The historic peasant cemetery of Cotorca, Buzau county

In the middle of the Baragan Prairie, of southeast Romania, there is a historic peasant cemetery conserving Wallachian style stone crosses from the 19th c to the early 20th c. The place is an extraordinary time capsule and a testimony of a long gone way of life, traditions and culture of the rural communities in the plains at the foot of the Great Bend of the Carpathian Mountains.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Constantin D Rosenthal – an exhibition at the National Museum of Art in Bucharest

The 19th c painter CD Rosenthal has been an important figure of the 1848 Revolution in Wallachia, which has put the basis of the modern national identity of what a few decades later will become Romania. He was a Hungarian Jew, which made his contribution even more momentous in the pivotal moments that are at the origins of this modern nation state in southeast Europe. This video is a review of the commemorative exhibition of his works taking place this season at the National Museum of Art in Bucharest (MNAR). He was a recorder of those events and protagonists, in an era before the mass media, painting his friends, the revolutionaries, who were young local aristocrats, and other people who, like him of cosmopolitan background, came to identify themselves with the political movement that aimed to set up this new national state. One such personality was the Scottish woman, Mary Grant, the model for his most famous painting, ‘Revolutionary Romania’. The exhibition is an excellent breviary of a pivotal moment in the history of this country, which conditioned its cultural and political evolution ever after, including the outlook and directions of its architecture.

Vernacular architecture in Southeastern Romania (Baragan Prairie)

The architecture of the peasant houses from the Baragan Prairie of southeast Romania, got contoured starting with the first decades of the 18th c, representing a sui generis synthesis between the type of houses from the Transylvanian Alps and the Great Bend of the Carpathians, encountered among the local Romanian and Hungarian (Szekler) communities, and from what is now central Bulgaria, in regions such as Plovdiv, which in that period were representing the core of the Ottoman culture and power in the northern Balkans. In this video I am charting that process of architectural coalescence between the vernacular architectures to the north and the south of the Baragan Prairie, which we can still admire and examine today in the villages of southeast Romania.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

The Tulip Period and the Wallachian Style

The Wallachian style in art and architecture, which is usually known as Brancovenesc (an incorrect term, in my opinion), was developed in the geopolitical and cultural context of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 17th century, culminating with the first decades of the 18th century, a period in the cultural history of the Ottoman Empire, called the Tulip Period. It is an era of Europeanisation of the Istanbul’s empire’s elite, and experimentation with new artistic models, and their synthesis in what will become the Ottoman Baroque and Rococo. The Wallachian style is a repercussion of those major trends in the special cultural conditions of Wallachia, with its Byzantine heritage, and its political autonomy as an Ottoman vassal, at the frontier of the sultan’s realm. In this video I articulate the broader phenomenon of the Tulip Period, to its narrower and more peculiar manifestation as the Wallachian Style, highlighting its wide international and complex cultural context of those times. Only through such a broad perspective we can understand the meanings and manifestations of the architectural style of Wallachia, that principality’s most important contribution to the world culture.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

The comfort of the peasant houses in Wallachia

There is a stark difference between the comfort of the peasant houses in Wallachia, southern Romania, in the 19th c and the early 20th c, according to their level of wealth, which was tied to their social status as serfs, indentured or free, land owning peasants. That division was reflected in the location of these social sub-classes: the lowlands, the large arable, grain crop regions was the place of the serf and indentured villages, while the highlands, the Subcarpathian hills, was the area of traditionally free peasant communities. This video discusses the marked difference in the comfort of the houses inhabited by those peasant communities of Wallachia, before the breaking up of the large landowning estates, and modernisation of the country.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Ottoman world influences on the Wallachian style

A brief review of the artistic and architectural influences from throughout the Ottoman Empire into the making of the Wallachian style, the highly original Christian architecture with Islamic overtones of the Principality of Wallachia, the nowadays southern Romania, between the late 17th c and the early 19th c.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Considerations on the Wallachian architectural style (aka Brancovan)

The Wallachian style, is a highly original architecture and decorative arts design, which developed within the confines of the Principality of Wallachia, a Christian protectorate of the Ottoman Empire, during the period of stability and prosperity of this great state between the late 17th c and throughout the 18th c. It is a synthesis between local Byzantine traditions, together with Islamic ones, at which is added European Baroque and Renaissance elements. The style is usually named Brancovan or Brancovenesc, which in my opinion is incorrect, not properly and precisely reflecting its geographical and civilisational locus in Wallachia. This video details for you this important chapter of the arts and architecture of the early modern southeast Europe, which has been crucial for the development of the the later Neo-Romanian style, the national style of Romania.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Architectural tour in Targoviste

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Targoviste, renowned as the former capital of the former Principality of Wallachia and one of the seats of Vlad the Impaler, among many other fearsome medieval Wallachian rulers of the Medieval era, located north-west of Bucharest, 80km away, in the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps. The tour is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog on Sunday 11 September 2016!

I will be your expert guide in this excellently endowed in old architecture town. Targoviste contains a superb selection of period houses and public buildings, reflecting the styles and architectural evolution of Romania’s provincial towns since late Middle Ages. The locals are proud of the city’s heritage and legacy as a former princedom capital, somehow as Winchester is seen in England, if I may draw that parallel, with ample medieval ruins poignantly reminding its Read more

Clamshell doorway awnings from the La Belle Époque period in Ploiesti

Bellow are two wonderful clamshell house entrance awnings that I photographed in Ploiesti, the oil town 60km north of Bucharest. They date from the La Belle Époque period (late Victorian and Edwardian periods) and belong as an architectural “species” to the Art Nouveau current, constituting a part of what I call the Little Parish style built landscape of the urban areas of that period in Romania. The clamshell awnings are widespread in Bucharest, which make me consider them as one of the main architectural symbols of Romania’s capital, but also popular throughout the country before the Great War (which was then formed by the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia, without Transylvania). Ploiesti was developing spectacularly in that era on the proceeds of the newly emerging oil economy and as an important regional market town. The clamshell awnings are a superb reminder of those times of economic boom and architectural finery.

Clamshell doorway awning from the La Belle Époque period in Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Clamshell doorway awning from the La Belle Époque period in Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Clamshell doorway awning from the La Belle Époque period in Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Ethnographic veranda pole

Ethnographic veranda pole, early 1930s Neo-Romanian style house, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

There was a certain trend within the Neo-Romanian architecture for using ethnographic motifs, which unfurled at its highest intensity between the late 1920s and the late 1930s, transcending its mature and late phase of development, expressed especially in wood carvings decorating structures such as verandas, stair balusters, balconies, doorways, etc.  The wooden veranda pole in images presented above and bellow is such an example, of exquisite quality, inspired from the peasant art of regions of southern Romania (Wallachia).

Ethnographic veranda pole, early 1930s Neo-Romanian style house, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)