Romanian architecture

Pre-Modern styles

During the middle ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 in Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 there were two types of construction that developed in parallel and different in point of both materials and technique. The first is the popular architecture, whose most spectacular achievements were the wooden churches
Wooden Churches of Maramures
The Wooden Churches of Maramureş in the Maramureş region of northern Transylvania are a group of almost one hundred churches of different architectural solutions from different periods and areas. They are Orthodox churches. The Maramureş churches are high timber constructions with characteristic...

, especially those in the villages of Maramureş
Maramureș may refer to the following:*Maramureș, a geographical, historical, and ethno-cultural region in present-day Romania and Ukraine, that occupies the Maramureș Depression and Maramureș Mountains, a mountain range in North East Carpathians...

, Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

 and Apuseni Mountains
Apuseni Mountains
The Apuseni Mountains is a mountain range in Transylvania, Romania, which belongs to the Western Carpathians, also called Occidentali in Romanian. Their name translates from Romanian as Mountains "of the sunset" i.e. "western". The highest peak is "Cucurbăta Mare" - 1849 metres, also called Bihor...

, where the tradition is still carried out today. In Maramureş, in Surdeşti
Sisesti, Maramures
Şişeşti is a commune in Maramureş County, Romania. It is composed of seven villages: Bontăieni , Cetăţele , Dăneşti , Negreia , Plopiş , Şişeşti and Şurdeşti ....

 village, the 54 m high church tower built during 1721–1724 is among the highest of this kind in Europe. The second consists mainly of monasteries, as well as princely seats or boyar mansions. Unfortunatelly, most of the old lay edifices were destroyed by time, wars, earthquakes and fires.

In mediaeval architecture, influences of Western trends can be traced, to a greater or lesser extent, in all the three lands inhabited by Romanians. Such influences are stronger in Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

, and weaker in Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

, in forms absorbed by local and Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 tradition. In Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

, Western elements in architecture were even fewer; there, from the 14th century architecture was based on the local adaptation of the Byzantine model (the Princely Church in Curtea de Arges
Curtea de Arges
Curtea de Argeș is a city in Romania on the right bank of the Argeş River, where it flows through a valley of the lower Carpathians , on the railway from Pitești to the Turnu Roşu Pass. It is part of Argeș County. The city administers one village, Noapteș...

 and the Cozia Monastery
Cozia Monastery
Cozia Monastery, erected close to Călimănești by Mircea cel Bătrân in 1388 and housing his tomb, is one of the most valuable monuments of national medieval art and architecture in Romania....


There are monuments significant for the Transylvanian Gothic style preserved to this day, in spite of all alterations, such as the Black Church in Braşov
Brașov is a city in Romania and the capital of Brașov County.According to the last Romanian census, from 2002, there were 284,596 people living within the city of Brașov, making it the 8th most populated city in Romania....

 (14th–15th c.) and a number of other cathedrals, as well as the Bran Castle
Bran Castle
Bran Castle , situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73...

 in Braşov County
Brasov County
Brașov ; ) is a county of Romania, in Transylvania, with the capital city at Brașov. The county incorporates within its boundaries most of the Medieval "lands" Burzenland and Făgăraș Land.-Demographics:...

 (14th c.), the Hunyades Castle in Hunedoara (15th c.).

Transylvania also developed fortified towns
Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania
Saxon and Székely Transylvanian villages were often organised around a fortified church. With its more than 150 well preserved fortified churches of a great variety of architectural styles , south-eastern Transylvania region in Romania currently has one of the highest numbers of existing fortified...

 extensively during the Middle Ages; their urban growth respected principles of functionality (the usual pattern is a central market place with a church, narrow streets with sides linked here and there by archways): the cities of Sighişoara
Sighişoara is a city and municipality on the Târnava Mare River in Mureş County, Romania. Located in the historic region Transylvania, Sighişoara has a population of 27,706 ....

, Sibiu
Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, Romania with a population of 154,548. Located some 282 km north-west of Bucharest, the city straddles the Cibin River, a tributary of the river Olt...

 and Braşov are remarkable examples in that sense. Building greatly developed in Moldavia, too. A great number of fortresses were built or rebuilt during the reign of Moldavia's greatest prince, Stephen the Great (1457–1504). Suceava
Suceava is the Suceava County seat in Bukovina, Moldavia region, in north-eastern Romania. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1388 to 1565.-History:...

, Neamţ
Neamt Citadel
Neamţ Citadel is a medieval fortress located in north-eastern part of Romania, near Târgu Neamţ, Neamţ County. It was built in 14th century Moldavia during Petru I of Moldavia's reign and expanded in the 15th century...

, Hotin, Soroca
Soroca is a Moldovan city situated on the Nistru river about 160 km north of Chişinău. It is the administrative center of Soroca District.- History :The city has its origin in the medieval Genoese trade post of Olchionia, or Alchona...

 and others were raised and successfully withstood the sieges laid in the course of time by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, by the kings of Poland and Hungary.

It was during his time that the Moldavian style
Moldovenesc style
Moldovenesc style or moldavian architectural style is a type of architecture developed in Moldavia during the 14th and 19th century.The period of maximum flowering of this style was in the period of Stephen III of Moldavia.The moldavian monasteries which belongs to the UNESCO heritage are made in...

, of great originality and stylistic unity, developed, by blending Gothic elements with the Byzantine structure specific to the churches. Among such constructions, the monumental church of the Neamţ Monastery
Neamt Monastery
The Neamţ Monastery is a Romanian Orthodox religious settlement, one of the oldest and most important of its kind in Romania. It was built in 14th century, and it is an example of medieval Moldavian architecture...

 served, for more than a century, as a model for Moldavian churches and monasteries
Painted churches of northern Moldavia
The Churches of Moldavia are eight Romanian Orthodox churches in Suceava County, Romania in northern Moldavia, built approximately between 1487 and 1583.Since 1993, they have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site...

. The style was continued in the 16th c., during the rule of Stephen the Great's son, Petru Rareş
Petru Rares
Peter IV Rareș was twice voievod of Moldavia: 20 January 1527 to 18 September 1538 and 19 February 1541 to 3 September 1546. He was an illegitimate child born to Ștefan cel Mare...

 (1527–1538, 1541–1546). The main innovation was the porch and the outwall paintings (the churches of Voroneţ, Suceviţa
Sucevita Monastery
Sucevița Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox convent situated in the Northeastern part of Romania. It is situated near the Suceviţa River, in the village Sucevița, 18 km away from the city of Rădăuţi, Suceava County. It is located in the southern part of the historical region of Bukovina...

, Moldoviţa monasteries). These churches of Northern Moldavia have become famous worldwide, due to the beauty of their painted elegant shapes that can be seen from afar.

The 17th century, the zenith of the pre-modern Romanian civilisation, brought about a more significant development of outstanding lay constructions (elegant boyard mansions or sumptuous princely palaces in Moldavia and Wallachia, Renaissance-style lordly castles in Transylvania), as well as the expansion of great monasteries. The latter were endowed with schools, art workshops, printing presses, and they were significant cultural centres. To this period belongs the church of the Trei Ierarhi Monastery
Trei Ierarhi Monastery
Biserica Trei Ierarhi is a seventeenth-century monastery located in Iaşi, Romania. The monastery is listed in the National Register of Historic Monuments and included on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site....

 in Iaşi
Iași is the second most populous city and a municipality in Romania. Located in the historical Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life...

, raised in 1635–1639, a unique monument due to its lavish decoration with carved geometric motifs, coloured in lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color....

 and golden foil, all over the facades. The architectural style developed in Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

, especially under the reigns of Matei Basarab
Matei Basarab
Matei Basarab was a Wallachian Voivode between 1632 and 1654.-Reign:Much of Matei's reign was spent fighting off incursions from Moldavia, which he successfully accomplished in 1637, 1639, and 1653 - see Battle of Finta...

 (1632–1654) and Constantin Brâncoveanu
Constantin Brâncoveanu
Constantin Brâncoveanu was Prince of Wallachia between 1688 and 1714.-Ascension:A descendant of the Craioveşti boyar family and related to Matei Basarab, Brâncoveanu was born at the estate of Brâncoveni and raised in the house of his uncle, stolnic Constantin Cantacuzino...

 (1688–1714), is of a remarkable stylistic unity. The Brancovan style is characterized by integration of Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 and Oriental features into the local tradition. Some examples are the Hurezi Monastery in Oltenia
Oltenia is a historical province and geographical region of Romania, in western Wallachia. It is situated between the Danube, the Southern Carpathians and the Olt river ....

 or the princely palace of Mogoşoaia
Mogoşoaia is a commune in the west of Ilfov County, Romania, composed of a single village, Mogoşoaia.In late 17th century, Constantin Brâncoveanu bought land here, and, between 1698–1702, he built the Mogoşoaia Palace....

, both of which are lavishly decorated, with beautiful stone carvings, stucco work and paintings.

The 18th century (the Phanariot rule) brought to Wallachia and Moldavia elements of Oriental influence in urban civil architecture, where the number of religious constructions decreased relatively. In Transylvania, the Baroque dominated both religious (the Roman Catholic churches in Timisoara and Oradea) and lay architecture (Banffy Palace in Cluj and Brukenthal Palace in Sibiu).

Modern styles

In the first half of the 19th century, urban life grew considerably and there was a Western-type modernisation policy, due to which the architecture of the Romanian lands became a combination of Romantic and Neo-Classical elements. In the second half of the century a national tendency developed, to use to a great extent elements and forms of the traditional local architecture. Ion Mincu
Ion Mincu
Ion Mincu was an architect, engineer, professor and politician in Romania.He promoted a Romanian style in architecture, by integrating in his works the specific style of traditional Romanian architecture...

 (1852–1912) was founder of both trends and of the Romanian school of architecture. His works, the Lahovary House or the Central Girls School in Bucharest, are among the most prominent achievements of this movement. It is due to an opposite trend that they designed houses and administrative buildings in the spirit of French eclecticism (the Justice Palace
Palace of Justice (Bucharest)
The Palace of Justice , located in Bucharest, Romania, was built between 1890 and 1895.Located on the banks of the Dâmboviţa River, it houses the Bucharest Court of Appeal and the Sector 5 Court. Its last major restoration was between 2003 and 2006....

, the Central Post Office) or by adapting classicism (the buildings that now hosts the House of the Men of Science, or the Cantacuzino Palace in Bucharest).

That was the time when the Romanian Athaeneum, one of the capitals most famous buildings, was erected in the same style (1886–1888). All those French-looking buildings raised around 1900 were a reason to nickname Bucharest "Little Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Other important architects, like Petre Antonescu
Petre Antonescu
Petre Antonescu was a Romanian Brigadier-General during World War II. In 1941, he became Head General-Secretary of the Department Ministry of Defense. He served as the Chief of Staff, 4th Army, from 1943 to 1944. From 1944 to 1945, he was the General Office Commanding the 1st Guard Division,...

 (1873–1965), Horia Creanga
Horia Creangă

 (1893–1943) and Duiliu Marcu
Duiliu Marcu
Duiliu Marcu was a Romanian architect. He studied at the Bucharest Superior School of Architecture and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he graduated in 1912.-Design:...

 (1885–1966) stood out by their commitment to simple and functional forms.

In the first decades of the 20th century, Romanian towns and cities still had a contrasting aspect, exhibiting a sharp difference between the downtown sumptuous buildings and the almost rural outskirts, while the villages remained, architecturally speaking, mainly unchanged. Nevertheless, the first signs of town planning appeared in some urban districts (the first two- or three-storied blocks of flats or one-family houses on two levels).

Industrialization brought some engineering feats such as the King Carol I Bridge
King Carol I Bridge
The Anghel Saligny Bridge was built between 1890 and 1895 in Romania over the Danube and Borcea branch of the Danube, and when it was completed it then became the longest bridge in Europe and the third longest in the world...

 (later renamed Anghel Saligny Bridge). Built between 1890 and 1895 in over the Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, when it was completed it then became the longest bridge in Europe and the third in the world.

Industrialisation and fast urban growth, forced especially in the last two decades of the communist epoch, introduced in architecture long-series typified projects and pre-fab technology in the construction of 8–10 storeyed blocks of flats, which resulted in huge living quarters, levelling up the Romanian townscape. Unfortunately, nationalism, characterizing the last Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

 stage of Romanian communism, did not reflect in Romanian architecture. Traditional urban central areas and rural towns were destroyed, and replaced by conglomerates of blocks of flats, while the same ruler imposed the erection of monumental public buildings of a dull eclectic solemnity. Proof of this intrusion of politics in the life of the city stands the huge palace built on Ceauşescu's order in Bucharest, now the Parliament House, whose construction necessitated the demolition of several quarters downtown. As in so many other domains, the post-revolutionary Romanian world will be bound to find again in architecture the way that best answers its needs for functionality and outlook.

See also

  • Constantin Brancoveanu
    Constantin Brâncoveanu
    Constantin Brâncoveanu was Prince of Wallachia between 1688 and 1714.-Ascension:A descendant of the Craioveşti boyar family and related to Matei Basarab, Brâncoveanu was born at the estate of Brâncoveni and raised in the house of his uncle, stolnic Constantin Cantacuzino...

  • List of buildings in Bucharest
  • Horia Creangă
    Horia Creangă

  • Károly Kós
    Károly Kós
    Károly Kós was a Hungarian architect, writer, illustrator, ethnologist and politician of Austria-Hungary and Romania.- Biography :...

  • Ion Mincu
    Ion Mincu
    Ion Mincu was an architect, engineer, professor and politician in Romania.He promoted a Romanian style in architecture, by integrating in his works the specific style of traditional Romanian architecture...

  • Toma T. Socolescu
    Toma T. Socolescu
    Toma T. Socolescu, was a major Romanian architect. Romanian architecture pillar from the early 20th century until World War II, he will be particularly active in his region : the Prahova County, and especially the City of Ploiești...

External links

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