Mixed Style Houses: Little Paris & Neo-Romanian

Mixed Little Paris and Neo-Romanian architectural style houses, dating form the 1890s & 1900s, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The city of Targoviste in southern Romania contains an excellent selection of period architecture houses, reflecting the styles and architectural evolution of Romania’s provincial towns in the last century and a half. Some of the most interesting examples are those displaying mixed styles, such as the buildings presented in the photomontage above and the slide show bellow the text, exhibiting a delightful synthesis between the Little Paris and the Neo-Romanian architectural designs. That picturesque architecture has been created by the local skilled builders and craftsmen, who transposed in vernacular the prestigious and fashionable styles of their time. The usual occupants of this type of dwelling, which in the high density and land scarce area of Bucharest are known as “wagon houses“, were the families of the the small merchants and state employees (policemen, clerks, teachers, etc.) that constituted the emerging provincial middle classes of Fin de Siècle Romania.

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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.

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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 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.

Mackintosh Chair Motif on Romanian Provincial Art Nouveau Doorway

Romanian 1900s provincial Art Nouveau doorway, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Targoviste is the medieval capital of the principality of Wallachia, located some 80km north-west of Bucharest. The meaning of the town’s name in old Romanian language is that of  “market town”, a true reflection of its medieval and early modern economy, until the advent of the oil industry in the inter-war period that changed its character. The city, at the turn between the c19th and the c20th was a picturesque provincial town, very proud of its heritage and legacy as the former capital, somehow like Winchester in England, if I can draw that parallel. The Art Nouveau style has some echoes in the local architecture, elements of which being displayed by a number of houses in the city centre. The doorway above adorns the side entrance of one of those picturesque buildings. What struck me the most in this obvious provincial design was the suggestion there of a Mackintosh chair motif, namely the famous oval topped back of an Argyle chair designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the end of c19th. This doorway may date from the 1900s, most probably repaired a few times since then in various degrees of refinement, and it shows the possible diffusion of this motif in a near vernacular form to this quite remote corner of Europe. The doorway may also be a more recent creation in tone with the rest of the Art Nouveau elements embellishing that house. A proper dating of it can of course be confirmed only through archive research.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.