The Jewish Community Museum in Bucharest

The Jewish Community Museum in Bucharest, formerly the Tailor's Guild's Great Synagogue. (©Valentin Mandache)

This impressive and well designed synagogue, one of the largest in Romania, was founded in the early part of the c19th to serve as the worship place for the Tailors’ Guild’s community, which had many families located in that area of Bucharest (Unirea Square, Mamulari St.) The actual architecture dates from 1908 – ’10, designed by the architect Julius Grunfeld in a style similar to that of other Victorian era synagogues from Central and Eastern Europe, containing motifs ranging from classical, Byzantine to oriental elements, with a series of discrete details inspired from local Romanian architecture. The building suffered extensive damage in the early 1940s, perpetrated by Romanian fascist gangs (the murderous national-socialist paramilitary organisation called ‘Archangel Michael’s Legion’). A public role for this edifice was again established only a few decades later in late 1970s as the Jewish Community Museum (official name “The History Museum of the Romanian Jews – Chief Rabbi Dr. Moses Rosen”), an excellent place to visit and find out about this once lively and thriving local community. The Jewish community of Romania has a long history, dating from the times when these lands were part of the Roman Empire two millennia ago and has also hugely contributed to the Romanian economic and cultural life, including of course the field of architecture. One of most famous representatives was Marcel Janco, an architectural designer of extraordinary talent, pioneer of the International Modernist Style, and a founding member of the Dada movement that initiated the surrealist art in Europe. The community suffered incalculable loses and tragedy during the Holocaust at the hands of the local fascist war time government, a fact only recently officially recognized by post-communist Romania.

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

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

Daily Picture 10-Feb-10: Travel to “America” Art Deco Panel

Travel to "America" Art Deco panel adorning a small mid 1930s house in Bucharest's Jewish quarter. (©Valentin Mandache)

My jaw just dropped when I discovered the fascinating mid 1930s Art Deco style panel in the image above! I was enthralled by its expressivity and  beyond the grave like message. It adorns a small run down house located on a cramped street from Bucharest’s Jewish quarter. The panel is very abstract, just like a cubist painting and depicts a travel theme (or rather longing to travel) by ocean going vessels to a large modern bustling city full of lights and high rise buildings bathed by glitzy reflector light-beams, symbols usually associated with US cities like New York and Chicago where many Romanian Jews were emigrating at that period in search of fortune and to escape from the perennial poverty and racial prosecutions suffered in their home country. The architectural decoration in this panel expresses a state of spirit and premonition among this community as in less than a decade, after the panel was put in place, it suffered the burnt of the Holocaust in wartime Romania.

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

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.