History of Architecture

    Romantic Architecture
    Around the beginning of the 19th century, the romantic spirit started to protrude into the Romanian architecture through formal models, and as a catalytic impulse as well, resulting in two types of stylistic pursuits. On one hand, it ranges from an architecture based on formal influences from different stylistic manifestations of a romantic manner, specific to certain areas in Western and Central Europe (forms of neo-gothic, neo-romantic and other neo-medieval forms, various regional styles, especially German etc.), generically titled romantic architecture. On the other hand, the attempts to value in a romantic manner the local popular architecture can be observed as well. If the latter orientation of the romantic status towards creating a national architecture reaches a state of maturity in the following period (toward the end of the century), becoming a durable and self-sustaining direction of stylistic searches (to be further noticed: the neo-Romanian architecture), the "imported" romantic architecture represents, among the classicized architecture, an important starting point in the process of Westernization/modernization of the Romanian society, characteristic to the second half of the 19th century.  Unlike the classicist architecture, the romantic architecture manipulates a heteroclite morphological repertoire, formed of constructive and decorative elements from the medieval European architecture, following a syntax entailing a great compositional freedom, in the search of the picturesque. The result is a spectacular architecture, with a poetic atmosphere, which was adopted by many bourgeois mansions and residences and rarely by public buildings.
    The most representative examples worth mentioning: Sutu Palace in Bucharest (1831-1832), arch. Konrad Schwink and Vitul, designed in the German Rundbogen style), the interventions on Bistrita Monastery, Tismana, Curtea de Arges, Arnota, Antim, Negoiesti, Caldarusani etc., due to architect Shlatter (who played a very important role as a restorer as well, although in the spirit of times, he gives to local monuments an unusual "gothic" expression topica and the nostalgia of the palaces created by the German Romanticism); the former Military hospital and the Army’s Arsenal in Bucharest; the Palace of Al. I. Cuza in Ruginoasa; the Copou barracks in Iasi; the Liebrecht-Filipescu mansion (1866, arch. Luigi Lipizer, a genuine creator of style), The Filaret Meteorological Institute (1884), St. Iosif Cathedral (1883, arch. Schmidt), the Spanish synagogue and the Coral Temple (1865), the "Carul cu bere" restaurant (1875, arch. Zigfried Kofczinsky), the two Rieber edifices (finished in the first years of the 20th century), the Cretzulescu Palace, Grigore Cerchez Mansion, all in Bucharest; The Cultural Palace in Iasi (the beginning of the 20th century, arch. I. D. Berindei). A special mentioning is deserved by the royal Peles castle and park ensemble in Sinaia  (started in 1875-1880, arch. Doderer and Schultz; felicitously completed in 1896-1914, arch. Karel Liman), which imprints its picturesque style (in the spirits of an eclectic combination between German medieval vernacular, German Renaissance and other stylistic compositions of different types), on the entire town and even the entire area. The romantic spirit is to be found in funeral and interior architecture as well as in furniture. However, it mostly stimulated the landscape architecture: a great amount of parks and gardens for the elite mansions are to be set up (only some of which having been preserved, yet the documents account for a greater number), and also public urban gardens and parks. Romantic gardens, such as the Cismigiu garden (started around 1845, Carol Friederich Meyer) and the Kiseleff garden (Carol Meyer, 1843), as well as organizing the Bellu, Sf. Vineri, Ghencea cemeteries, originate in this type of architecture. Later, the Carol Park (Redont), organised for the great exhibition in 1906, represents the peak of romantic picturesque.
    In Transylvania, neo-medieval romantic architecture is more organically linked to the local architectural tradition and it is practised by local architects. The great neo-gothic architect is Antal Kagerbauer, author of the St. Petru (1846) and of the Cluj Hall (1843-1846), of the new wing of  Banffy castle in Bontida (1855), of the Miko Imre Castle in Ocna Mures and of many other funeral monuments, followed by the architects Ferdinand Hottner (the St. Elisabeta Asilum in Cluj), Samu Pecz (Szeky Palace, Cluj), Janos Bohm, Kalman Rimanoczy, Gotfried Orendi etc.
    Both the classicist and the romantic architecture considerably widen the formal sphere of Romanian architecture, releasing it from the narrow path of the local tradition but in different ways: if the classicist architecture adds to Romanian architecture the rigors and the rational order of the classical tradition (this tradition being almost inexistent on the territory of the former kingdom), the romantic architecture brings forth an imaginative surplus and a touch towards the charm of the past architecture. Both directions were proven to have been harnessed later.

Ana-Maria Zahariade