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BUCHAREST, 555 YEARS OF EXISTENCE

BUCURESTI_555_MOver five centuries of history, culture and Romanian identity: this is the city of Bucharest where our ancestors built modern Romania, through the spiritual and institutional strengthening of the individuality and unity of the Romanian people. Nowadays, Bucharest appears as one of the biggest cities of the continent where the last years’ architecture and the vibrant living style of its citizens have transformed Romania’s capital into a landmark on the European map.

The first written reference of Bucharest dates from September 20th, 1459, when the site was mentioned as one of the residences of ruler Vlad Tepes. On the occasion of the celebration of 555 years since the first certification of the city and official establishment as the formal royal residence, Romfilatelia dedicates to the “city of Bucur” the anniversary postage stamp issue Bucharest, 555 Years of Existence, which illustrates one of the symbolic facets of the city: its modern architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The postage stamp issue consists of six postage stamps illustrating symbolic buildings of modern Bucharest, erected between the 19th and the 20th centuries, and the stamp of the souvenir sheet on which is represented the Zodiac Fountain in the Carol Park.

On the postage stamp with the face value of lei 3.30 is presented the National Bank of Romania Palace.

Built on the place of an inn from the 17th century, the building is an architectural landmark of Bucharest’s urban modernization in that period, identified with the work of many architects trained in France. The construction of the Palace began in 1883 and ended in 1900.

The building was made in the French Renaissance style, also taking elements of French Classicism; the “structure and the materials used are fully consistent with the latest techniques of the end of the 19th century” (N. Lascu). Thus ,the use of traditional elements, such as the masonry and arching of the central area of the basement, is completed with the consistent use of new building materials, especially metal. The roof is dominated by five domes inspired by those of the Clock Tower of the Louvre Palace. The exceptional interior impresses both through the decor elements (such as the fireplaces, chandeliers, circular windows and mural paintings), and the monumental stairs.

Another jewel of the Capital is the current Palace of the Patriarchate, depicted on the postage stamp with the face value of lei 4.30.

The history of the place begins in the mid-17th century when the Metropolitan Hill is mentioned (nowadays the Patriarchate Hill) as being covered with vineyards owned by the ruler of the country and harboring also a monastic complex.

The Patriarchal Palace was built between 1656-1658 by ruler Constantin Serban Basarab, knowing several changes over time. Among them is that from 1907 when the former palace, which was the headquarters of the Assembly of Deputies whose chair was, according to the custom, the Metropolitan Bishop, is replaced with the new building, architect Dimitrie Maimarolu’s work, the first building made of steel concrete in Romania.

The facade of the building, made in Neoclassical style, is 80 m long, and the body of the entrance is off-hook with a peristyle consisting of 6 Ionic columns. The dome of the building, rebuilt after the 1940 earthquake, is similar to that of the Athenaeum. The facade is decorated with pilasters on two levels, and the corner bodies are nicely decorated and dominant.

On the postage stamp with the face value of lei 4.50 is depicted another outstanding work of the architect Ion D. Berindei – the Toma Stelian House, belonging to the Minister of Justice of that time.

Subsequently donated to the Romanian state, the house became a museum of art, according to the owner’s desire itself. The collection of art of Minister Toma Stelian gathered over 500 paintings and some dozens of sculptures belonging to famous Romanian artists.

Starting with 1950, the building had served as the headquarters of the Writers’ Union. Rebuilt after the 1977 earthquake, the house achieves a different look, the facade becoming sober.

Originally, the building boasted elements specific both to the symmetric Classical style, and architect Berindei’s characteristic repertoire, such as the windows with parapets, the outstanding cornices, or the entrance marked by a glass and wrought iron awning. The interior of the house is elegant and opulent, the walls being decorated with themed paintings and fine antique accessories.

On the postage stamp with the face value of lei 6.00, is represented the Palace of the Faculty of Medicine, building that hosts the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila” in Bucharest. Built in the French Neoclassical style between 1902-1903 by Swiss architect Louis Blanc, the 3-floor architectural monument is made of stone.

The monumental main entrance is surrounded by Ionic columns, and the basement, built of stone, is in fact the high pedestal on which the 3-floor building is erected. The main symmetrical facade consists of a ground floor in bonding, with arched windows.

The jutty-built main building presents a richly ornamented portico and pediment. The taken corners of the facade shelter the stairs giving access to the upper floors. The park facade of the palace is symmetrically deployed to the two massive volumes of the heads covere dwith domes, and has five arches. The main entrance has a carved stone portal.

The building is among the most beautiful in Bucharest, but also among the most valuable thanks to the role it had since the beginning of the 20th century in the evolution of Romanian medical education.

On the postage stamp with the face value of lei 5.00 is depicted the Kretulescu Palace, a historic building erected in the early 20th century, belonging to the Kretulescu family.

After the construction of the first building around 1700, the building will undergo many radical changes over time, many architects putting their own vision on it. The nowadays image of the Palace is due to the Romanian architect Petre Antonescu, who reconstructs the building at the request of the heiress Elena Kretulescu, in French Renaissance style. There can also be seen ceilings with engraved wooden ornaments or stucco designs that mimic the colour and texture of the wood.

If in the interwar period, the building housed the Museum of Religious Art, nowadays it hosts the headquarters of UNESCO in Romania – the European Centre for Higher Education.

On the postage stamp with the face value of lei 9.10, is depicted the National Geology Museum found in the building previously designed to accommodate the Geological Institute of Romania. It was  founded in 1906 by order of King Carol I, in order to fulfill the role of a national geological service.

The building is among the architectural landmarks of Bucharest from the beginning of the last century; built by the architect Victor Stefanescu, in the Neo-Brancovenesc style, it boasts inside the solid oak furniture and a spiral staircase leading to the balcony that surrounds the library with a waist. Since its establishment, the Institute hosted a dynamic research activity, an early museum being organised since its opening in one of the rooms on the ground floor, which contained collections of rocks and minerals.

The official opening of the Geological Museum took place in April, 1990, and was arranged in 22 rooms. The giant heritage museum contains today about 85,000 samples.

On the postage stamp of the souvenir sheet with the face value of lei 9.10, is represented the Zodiac Fountain, a historic monument found when entering the Carol Park. Inaugurated in 1935 by King Carol II, on the occasion of the celebrations held for the Bucharest Month, the Fountain preserved unchanged its name and appearance. It is a symbol of the cultural evolution in the interwar period, but also of the importance given to green places in that time.

Creation of architect Octav Doicescu, the fountain consists of a circular bowl, in the middle of which stands a stone cup with black mosaics representing the Zodiac signs.

Romfilatelia thanks the Bucharest City Hall, the photographers George Avanu and Lucian Tudose, and Mr. Cornel Constantin Ilie, historian, for the documentary and photographic support granted in the accomplishment of this postage stamp issue.

Issue date: 2014-09-20

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