Keeping with the religious theme a while longer, this is Bucharest’s most important catholic church. It was built between the years 1873-1884 after plans by the Austrian architect Friedrich von Schmidt, who also designed Vienna’s City Hall. Its red brick exterior is a blend of Neo Romanesque and Neo Gothic styles, like the rose window and arched portal. It was restored and consolidated after every major earthquake of last century. During his visit to Bucharest in May 1999, Pope John Paul II attended here the Divine Liturgy in the oriental tradition, together with the whole hierarchy of the Greek Catholic Church of Romania. In the last years the church witnessed the development of a 20 floor business center right next door, building which will ironically be called “Cathedral Plaza” even though the church has fiercely opposed the building of the center, citing concerns of structural damage. It is not the first time a new glass office building appears overnight in an area of old houses, with no attention being payed to integrating the buildings architecturally. With the price of land in Bucharest’s center skyrocketing in the last decade and the construction rush that followed we’re bound to see this happening again and again.
Below: A protest banner photographed at another catholic church (Bărăţia) in downtown Bucharest. It reads “Save Romania’s values. Now, Saint Joseph Cathedral! Pray!”