Archives

Cotroceni Palace

, , , Posted by on

Bucharest is not only a modern city, but it is also filled with history. On every street and in every neighborhood you can find a building that tells stories, and one of them is the Cotroceni Palace. While you are in Bucharest, make sure you take a day to visit it; you will not regret.

The Cotroceni Palace is the home of the President of Romania, but even so a part of it is open for visitation since 27 of December 1991 when the National Museum of Cotroceni was opened. The building goes back to 1679, when one of the rules of Romania built a monastery. A church and other small buildings were added in the next two years, but not all of them are still standing today. In 1862, the first ruler or Romanian Principalities, Alexandru Ioan Cuza decided to make the monastery his home during the summer months.

Years later, in 1984, the church that was built near the monastery was demolished following the orders of the former communist ruler of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu. 5 more years and a revolution passed until the monastery became officially the residence of the President of Romania. Today, only the Museum of Cotroceni is open for visitation, but during certain times of the year visitors are allowed to take the tour of the Palace and see the building where the President lives. Yes, sometimes you can even catch a glimpse of the President while he is going in or out of the Palace.

cotroceni-palace-garden

In the Museum of Cotroceni the visitors have the chance to see not only an impressive example of old architecture, but also important art objects from the history of Romania. Dozens of famous paintings made by Romanian artists and not only can be seen there, as well as many objects that used to belong to the Royal Family of Romania. In a wing of the Museum the visitors can see parts of what was left of the old church Cotroceni, as well as religious paintings that were hidden during communism.

In the Museum you can find tour guides that speak many different languages, so you will have the chance to find out the story of the artifacts that are presented here even if you don’t speak the Romanian language.

If you are lucky, you might find one of the many international exhibitions that can be visited here in different times of the year, and you can attend various events like concerts, debates and conferences and book launches.

After you finish visiting the Museum, do not forget to go to the souvenir boutique that is waiting inside the building and get something that will remind you of the beautiful experience you had in Romania.

Triumphal Arch

Posted by on

Arcul de Triumf (the Arch of Triumph) is one of Bucharest most representative monuments. It is not just the preferred photo shoot scene of thousands of local brides, but also an important part of Romania’s culture and history. Located in the northern part of Bucharest, on the Kiseleff Road, this monumental arch marks the historical moment when Romania gained its independence, in 1878. The initial “Arc de Triumf” was built of wood and under its magnificent arch the victorious Romanian troops marched proudly. Since then two other arches were built on the same site, each one of them was a symbol of the country’s great triumphs.

The second “Arc de Triumf” was built in 1922, after World War I, and it lasted only 13 years as in 1935 it was demolished and replaced by the current arch. The one that stands to this day was built in September 1936, has a height of 27 meters, its foundation measures 25 x 11.50 meters and follows the plans of the genius architect Petre Antonescu. Ion Jalea and Dimitrie Paciurea are just a few of the famous Romanian sculptors that created the images that decorate the facades of the triumphal arch. Besides local sculptors, about 10 Italian artists contributed to its unique aesthetics. On every 1st of December, when Romania’s National Day is celebrated, a military parade is held under the “Arc de Triumf”.

The “Arch of Triumph” celebrates Romania’s participation in the World War I on the Allied side, as well as the fact that when the war was over all the Romanian lands were reunited in one country. This was called the Great Union and it was marked by replacing the old wooden arch with a permanent one in 1922 when the first Union parade took place under the Arch of Triumph.

The design of the Arch is also monumental. Among the great artists that worked on it we mention  Constantin Baraschi, Alexandru Calinescu, Mac Constantinescu, Ion Jalea, Dimitrie Paciurea si Costin Petrescu. On the south side Mac Constantinescu and Constantin Baraschi sculpted a symbolic image of the Great Victory. Identically located on the north side, there are the Manhood allegories created by Ion Jalea and Faith by Constantin Baraschi, as well as two other Victories created by Cornel Medrea and Dimitrie Onofrei. The pillars which sustain the 27 meters tall monument have interior stairs which lead to the superior terrace. The Romanian architect Victor G. Stefanescu was in charge with the technical review and supervision of the construction works which begun in April 1935 and took about a year and a half to be completed. The Inauguration ceremony was held on 1 December 1936, when the country celebrated 18 years since the Union of Transylvania and Romania took place. The momentum was marked by the participation of King Carol II, his mother Queen Mary, Prince Mihai, members of the Romanian Government and many important local and foreign guests.

Nowadays, the “Arch of Triumph” represents one of Bucharest’s most important symbols. Its interiors host a small museum which can be visited only on special occasions. The visitors can view 4 important exhibitions: the Great War of Reunification of the Nation (photography and film), the Heraldry of the Great Noble Families (bronze effigies, photography), the Arch of Triumph in Images (photography, layouts), the Great Union of 1918 (where there are photography and the 1:1 copies of the crowns and royal scepter) and the superior terrace can be accessed as well.

Imge Credit Abublog

Tepes Castle in Bucharest

, Posted by on

If you ever find yourself simply walking through Carol Park and you have enough time on your hands to discover a less common tourist attraction, with a medieval appearance and gorgeously built out of red bricks, then be prepared to be surprised. Right in the center of the park there is the Water Tower that was built by the architects Stefan Burcus and V. Stephanescu in 1906, to commemorate 40 years from the coronation of Carol I, a moment when the Romanian authorities decided to organize the famous Romanian General Exhibition.

The Tepes Castle had a functional and utilitarian purpose. It was supposed to host a water reservoir, but it never fulfilled its purpose and it remained in history as the building that copied the architecture of the original Tepes Palace from Poenari, Arges County. Those who are interested in visiting this tourist attraction, it can be found on Candiano Popescu Street no. 6, Bucharest.

The Catle’s tower, measuring about 20 meters high and 8 meters in diameter, used to host a huge cylindrical iron basin with a capacity of 200 cubic meters and a 6 meters diameter. This was able to fill the inside of the tower entirely, leaving room only for a narrow spiraled staircase, which used to climb almost to the top of the building. The basin was constructed in the workshops of Oscar Maller and was assembled in the Palace’s interior.

From the Castle’s tower, from a special platform, one could admire Carol Park and Bucharest’s panorama. A powerful counterfort, completed by a wooden porch, holds the tower from crashing down, and in the right side there is a castellated stone wall, finished in the corner with another tower of smaller sizes.

Sadly, short after Queen Elizabeth opened the Exhibition, accompanied by the notes of 100 thumpers and the gun shots of the Calafat Company, the water basin became unused and it remained this way until this day.

After the relocation of the Unknown Soldier at Marasesti and the inauguration on 30 December 1963, the mausoleum nearby (built on the site of the former National Military Museum), Tepes Castle continued to be used by soldiers who provided security for Carol Park.

In 2010, the Castle was included in the list of national historical monuments which meant respecting a set of specific rules, applicable to those buildings which were part of the National Patrimony.

Unfortunately, the access at the inside of the castle is permitted only twice a year, due to security reasons. The building hasn’t been repaired or restored since 1990. The only days when the Castle can be visited are National Heroes Day and Army Day (25th of October). Still, every visit is one that you will surely remember. Besides the unique architectural style, you will also enjoy a gorgeous view of Carol Park and you will also get to visit the Mausoleum and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Old Princely Court

, , Posted by on

The Old Princely Court was the first Royal Court built in Bucharest. Initially, it included a Palace, a church, spaces meant for servants and the royal gardens. We know only a few details about the Court’s founder, but according to historical researchers who have studied the history of Bucharest, it was built by Mircea cel Batran. Today, the Old Princely Court is an outdoor museum which hosts quite often cultural events, festivals and medieval art fairs.

The first Royal building in Bucharest, the Old Princely Court was constructed by Mircea cel Batran between the end of the XIV century and the beginning of the XV century. It is one of the most important historical sites from the Capital’s Old Town. In 1972 it was turned into a museum that has the same name and which is an original representation of the vestiges of the royal residences from the XVI-XIX centuries. Even now you can still see the foundations of the XIV century city and the stone walls of Bucurestilor city.

The Old Princely Court was the place where for a couple hundred years the nobles used to gather, where the history of a country that was mostly under the Ottoman’s threat was written. The Old Court was also the place where the first Romanian literature was born, where the national spirit regained its originality through art and culture.

According to historians, the Old Princely Court was located on a very tall hill and it was surrounded to the South by the very high bank of the Dambovita River and to the other cardinal points by very strong walls. The access into the Old Court was possible through two opposite gates.

The first gate which was located at the intersection of Smardan and Halelor Street had several names like the Upper Gate, The German Tower, the Royal Bell, and much later after the stone tower was ruined, the Red Tower. The second gate, the Lower Gate, was located in the place where Mosilor Street begins.

In the XV century, Vlad Tepes, the ruller of the Romanian Country, consolidated the city and turned it into his royal residence, an alternative to the one he already had in Targoviste.

The old Princely Court suffered over the years numerous restorations works, starting with second half of the XIV century, from Basarab cel Tanar and until Mircea Ciobanul, Matei Basarab and Constantin Brancoveanu.

After the fire from 1718 which destroyed almost the entire Bucharest and after the earthquake in 1738, the Old Princely Court was closed.

Nowadays, the Old Court is just a cluster of ruins – a few ancient Turkish baths and old walls that mark the limits of the former royal palace. The ruins of the Old Princely Court become a protected archaeological site, turned into a museum named “Old Princely Court Museum”. It is a very interesting and fascinating tourist attraction in Bucharest that offers a rich and unique cultural experience.

Eco Housing Is Slowly Taking Over Bucharest

Posted by on

While Romania has long had a small to irrelevant eco housing market, these last couple of years have seen the emergence and growth of eco-friendly constructions and even some large scale projects which will set Romania on the right track when it comes to its carbon footprint.

The carbon footprint is described as the entire amount of pollution produced by a person’s interaction with the environment. This includes things like energy consumption, travel, clothing, electronic devices and all actions that result in carbon emissions. While some people consider cars as the main culprit when it comes to carbon emissions, housing is by far and away the most polluting aspect of modern life. While heating and maintenance are direct contributors to a person’s carbon footprint, constructions, particularly for buildings that use a lot of concrete are much more pollutant, as remarked during an eco-friendly housing conference that was part of the Belgian Week festivities in Bucharest.

The consensus of the conference was that while only small steps were registered, the Bucharest housing market is slowly but surely meeting international standards in terms of eco conscious buildings. These standards are not just a way to ensure efficient energy consumption within homes but also a set of codes that should limit the effect of human habitation on the surrounding environment through things like waste or resource depletion, said Didier Balcaen COO for Central and Eastern Europe within Liebrecht & Wood.

With these advances in mind, the Belgian company has announced plans to build a residential quarter in one of Bucharest’s marginal neighbourhoods. With a huge 190 hectare plot which has an opening towards the Frumusani Lake the project should involve 5.000 units, both individual homes as well as condominiums with a small number of floors. Due to the size of the project building might not advance extremely fast with a rate of approximately 500 units per year over a period of ten years. The project will also include a number of infrastructure investments such as roads, a water cleansing station and a waste management station as well as other required infrastructure buildings. The total cost of this immense project is estimated to be around 500 million euros. Planning elements are still being resolved with a start date for construction being announced for 2016. The project will be aimed at middle to high class customers with the smallest prices per unit starting at 70.000 euros.

Bucharest Palace of the Parliament

, , Posted by on

The Palace of the Parliament, also known as People’s House (Casa Poporului), is a wonderful tourist attraction for those who are visiting Bucharest. It has a rich history and many hidden secrets, which might not be mentioned by your tour guide. Are you curious to find out what those are? Keep reading about this very extravagant and expensive administrative building.

The construction work for the Palace of the Parliament started in 1984 and the initial estimates for completing the building were for 2 years, but the deadline was afterwards extended until 1990. Unfortunately, the building hasn’t been completed not to this very day. Even though this is one of the most admired and talked about construction in the world, out of its total 1,100 rooms only 400 chambers and 2 meeting halls are finished and suitable for use.

This is one of the most expensive buildings on the planet and it includes 4 underground floors and 2 fallout shelters, especially designed by Nicolae Ceausescu who was much scarred of a possible nuclear war. In a way, his worries were justified, considering that the project started during the Cold War.

The Ex-Dictator was worried about something else as well, maybe more than the atomic bombs- the people’s revolution. This is why he included underground tunnels, which were designed to get him safe to the Otopeni airport, from where he could have escaped from the rage of his people.

The engineer, Traian Popp, who worked on the construction site, claims that there really exists a tunnel which connects the basement of the Palace of the Parliament and the subway, somewhere between the stations Izvor and Politehnica. Still, there is no secret subway that goes to Otopeni, says Popp.

For completing this enormous project, on the construction site there were between 20,000 and 100,000 men who worked sometimes even in 3 shifts to get the work done. Plus 200 architects who were initially coordinated by Cezar Lazarescu.

Only a few tourists know the sad story of the chief architect. His house was demolished to make room for the new boulevard Victoria Socialismului, just like the neighborhood Uranus was also demolished, and 57,000 families were forced to move out. Cezar Lazarescu could not live with the idea that he lost his house and this lead to his death, caused by a stroke. His place as a chief architect for the project Palace of Parliament was taken by Anca Petrescu.

The workers from the site also left numerous stories behind them. Some might seem funny while others might give you goose bumps. There are many messages left on the walls of the building saying: „Maria + Casa Poporului“ or  „AMR (days left) 197, 196, 195 “. The documents confirm that many workers died here, on the greatest construction work that Romania has ever had. The records show that 27 people died as a result of a work accident, but there are also rumors about killed workers, to keep the secret about some hidden tunnels or secret rooms.

Anca Petrescu, one of the chief-architects denies these rumors claiming that when a worker died, the military prosecutors conducted a thorough investigation looking to identify a responsible for the accident. This means that the disappearing of an employee wouldn’t have been lightly dismissed. But above of the endless rumors and legends, the Palace of the Parliament remains an important tourist attraction. It is the world’s largest administrative building, after the Pentagon, measuring 84 m high, 360,000 m2 square area and having 23 different wings.

In 1190, the Australian American business magnate Rupert Murdoch wanted to buy the building for 1 billion dollars, but his offer was refused. Today, the Palace of the parliament is evaluated at 3 billion euros.

The Union of Romanian Architects – a Unique Design Concept

Posted by on

The building of the Union of Romanian Architects became one of Bucharest’s top tourist attractions because of its architectural value. If the bottom floors look like a historic building, towards the top, it turns into a modern style skyscraper. Located at the corner of Boteanu and Demetru Dobrescu streets, right in the heart of the Romanian capital city, this architectural marvel combines vintage and modern architecture through a mixture of brick and glass.

Nowadays the Union of Romanian Architects’ headquarter, this controversial building has a long history. Built by Grigore Paucescu at the end of the 19th century, it was home to the Austrian embassy before WWI. In December 1989, the building was almost entirely burned down and destroyed as it was suspected to shelter terrorists. After December 1989, the house was split into two: half of it became the headquarters for the Romanian Academy, while the second half belonged to the Union of Romanian Architects. Built in the French Renaissance architectural style, the landmark retains from the former imposing building two facades that succeed to appeal to passers-by on the look of architectural gems.

 Modern House in old

In 2003, the construction of the new building began and was completed up to the 7th floor, but in a modern style, in accordance with the architectural rules of the neighborhood. The building was then measuring 28 meters and had 2 meters high windows. Being considered a historic landmarks, the lower part of the building could not be demolished. Consequently, it has been consolidated, and behind the brick walls a steel and glass tower was erected. This project signed by the architects Dan Marin and Zeno Bogdanescu has created some controversy as some argued the new construction appeared as a result of neglecting a historical monument.

Located in Revolution Square, the Union of Romanian Architects’ headquarter is one of the strangest buildings in the country. Those who have examined the expressions on passersby’ faces noticed that the building appeals to young people more than to the elderly. Nevertheless, foreigners visiting the Romanian capital city do not fail to take a snapshot, calling it “Jar”, “Glass Bud” or “Cyborg Building”. Beyond what some might think, this way Bucharest gained a different architectural attraction than the usual grey buildings one can find throughout the city.

Energy Efficient House in Bucharest

Posted by on

An energy efficient home built in the heart of a busy and diverse city is a true life changer. Through its numerous design qualities a solar home isn’t just a way to take care of the environment, but also a new approach to a healthier, more comfortable and modern lifestyle.

The EFdeN house is a sleek new solar home project that tries to bring technologies generally used in large modern buildings that are constructed in suburban or rural areas and implement them in homes that are located in densely populated areas within large cities. The EFdeN house is though out by a young team of Romanian students and architects as a new answer to a lifestyle question posed by Bucharest, the country’s capital city and one of the busiest capitals of the European Union.

 EFdeN-Solar-House

The EFdeN house strives to create a viable alternative to classic city living which currently means either living in a tight, uncomfortable apartment or in a house in the suburbs that requires daily commutes that last for hours.

The EFdeN solar home’s careful proportions and open planned interior creates a high quality space that can be easily built even on tight urban plots. Once built, the house already achieved an eco-friendly goal of reducing pollution by allowing its occupants to use mass transportation options such as bus routes, trams or the subway.

EFdeN Bucuresti 1

The house itself offers cutting edge energy efficient technology, reducing its carbon footprint while also helping out with lower bills. All this is achieved while creating a pleasant environment that offers a higher life quality than a conventional home or an apartment.

The large yet well-proportioned windows of the EFdeN home allows the house to be heated in colder season directly by sunlight, while for hotter seasons they can provide easy ventilation. The double-glazing also helps keep in warmth while heath recovery systems can bring in clean air without affecting the inside temperature.

EFdeN Bucuresti 2

The open planned interior design helps give off a feeling of space, making the proportions of the house seem that much larger. While strikingly modern, all interior elements try to combine functionality with great craftsmanship. They are generally built from renewable materials, the preferred one being wood. This adds to the eco credential of the house, further reducing its impact on the environment.

The efficient lighting is another key aspect that sets the EFdeN house apart from other energy efficient homes. The LED lights provide a warm and pleasant atmosphere while consuming substantially less electricity when compared to conventional lighting systems.

The key design element of the house and one of its most striking features both in terms of design and livability is the double height green room. A special room designed to recreate a missing element in urban living, an immediate, and easy to access connection with nature.

Depending on the overall design of the house this beautiful element can harbor anything from vegetables to decorative plants, a lawn or trees. It is meant to create a beautiful natural space that can be reached directly from inside the home, involving the owners in the life cycle of the plants or trees and creating an experience that a park or a garden simply can’t replace.

Featured Properties