Romania’s Peculiar Way in the Landscapes of Bucharest, 1806–1906
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Beginning with the middle of the nineteenth century, Bucharest was the hub of an emerging nation-state, finally turning into the capital city of a kingdom (in the century’s last quarter). This advancement implied the necessity for the town to adapt to a new status and to represent Romania before the world. To this end, broad-based investment projects were necessary; in the first place, the city had to be bestowed with edifices of public institutions. The forms of these buildings, and the designs of grand boulevards, were primarily rooted in the fascination with Paris of the time of Prefect Haussmann. Foreigners’ accounts of Bucharest testify to the image of a ‘Little Paris’ getting anchored at the time. However, the premises for this nickname are traceable in earlier period: an elitist snobbery about ‘Parisian’ salon life was taking shape in the early nineteenth century, whereas the incipient national ideas fell back on the French revolutionary tradition. The overwhelming French influence on the local elites finally raised increasing resistance as potentially damaging to the Romanian identity. This turn triggered certain political as well as architectural projects that were supposed to bring the country’s modern life to its presumed roots or ‘authentic’ tradition.
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