Masonic, Phoenician?… inscription on doorway pediment

The doorway assembly of a house in Spanish Mission style dating from 1932, with a unusual pediment inscription. Kiseleff area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found in one of my research days in Bucharest in one of the most well-heeled areas of the city an inscription decorating the pediment of an inter-war Spanish Mission style house (one of the very few such design buildings from Romania’s capital) rendered in an unknown script. I tried to identify the letters in various online and paper printed sources, but to no avail. My impression is that the inscription is rendered in a medieval European alphabet revived and used by the Freemasons, who were vigorously active in Romania before the communist take over. I have already identified and published in the recent past photographs and considerations on a couple of long forgotten Masonic signs rendered as architectural decorations in another upmarket area of Bucharest, articles which can be accessed here and at this link. Another theory would be that the writing is Phoenician, the letters resembling somehow that script, my reasoning being that the house should have belonged to someone with Spanish connections (Romania used to have a sizeable Jewish Ladino community before the Holocaust and postwar emigration), as the architectural style would  imply, a land so much linked with the ancient Carthaginian civilisation. Anyway, I very much hope that someone from among my readers would be able to help in identifying the meaning of this peculiar piece of architectural history,.

Masonic or Phoenician inscription? on the doorway pediment of a Spanish Mission style hosue (1932) from the Kiseleff area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

PS In February 2011 I received an email from one of my readers, Mr. Ion Musceleanu, who conveyed to me an interesting interpretation of this inscription, made by a specialist in ancient Indo-European linguistics, known to the online community under the nickname Teofil. He considers that the text is in Sanskrit Devanagari, a script derived from the Gupta type, encountered in northern India and Nepal; the first row is a numa (“Gold”, “Golden”, which seems to be slightly misspelt), while the second row means “Fortune”/ “Chance”, again slightly misspelt. I would like to thank Teofil for this interpretation, which hopefully would help deciphering this architectural enigma of Bucharest.

Prin aceasta serie de articole zilnice intentionez sa inspir in randul publicului aprecierea valorii si importantei caselor de epoca din Romania – un capitol fascinant din patrimoniul arhitectural european si o componenta vitala, deseori ignorata, a identitatii comunitatilor din tara.


Daca intentionati sa cumparati o proprietate de epoca sau sa incepeti un proiect de renovare, m-as bucura sa va pot oferi consultanta in localizarea proprietatii, efectuarea unor investigatii de specialitate pentru casele istorice, coordonarea unui proiect de renovare sau restaurare etc. Pentru eventuale discuţii legate de proiectul dvs., va invit sa ma contactati prin intermediul datelor din pagina mea de Contact, din acest blog.

Short Neo-Romanian style column inscribed with masonic symbol/ monogram

An attractive example of short and ornate Neo-Romanian style column, deorated on the capital with a stylised letter "G"; en of the 1920s - early 1930s mansion, Cotroceni area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The “G” letter inscribed on the column capital in the photograph above is very intriguing as it may be a masonic symbol representing the masonic gnosis in the form of the letter G shaped as a fragmented square, or it could be the more prosaic possibility that the letter is the monogram of the house owner. My inclination is toward the masonic connection as many among the Romanian elite of the era when the house was built were freemasons and some lived in the upmarket Cotroceni quarter. I documented a few weeks ago another architectural rendering of a masonic symbol discovered in this area, click here to access the article.


I endeavor through this series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.


If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.