With the arrival of the new snow, all the statues in the city have received white blankets to protect themselves from the cold. Such is the case of the statue in today’s photo, one of the four statues located in University Square, representing Gheorghe Lazăr (June 5, 1779 – September 17, 1821) a Transylvanian-born Romanian scholar who founded the first Romanian language school in Bucharest in 1818. The statue was executed in 1886 by the sculptor Ion Georgescu.
Believe it or not we used to celebrate Christmas during communism although not officially of course (for those who don’t know, the communists are atheists). Christmas came packaged with New Year Celebration and they were officially known as “The winter holidays”. We decorated the Christmas tree with whatever we were able to find and on December 24th, “Father Winter”, Santa Claus’ identical twin, arrived with presents. I remember when Father Winter (a colleague of my parents) came to bring me presents when I was about 5 years old. I was so nervous that I forgot the poem I was supposed to recite. However, he was nice and left me presents nonetheless. By and large I had a happy childhood during communism despite the lack of some basic needs. I realize now that it was thanks to my parents who tried to shelter me from life’s reality.
The picture above is from Romană Square. The next two are taken on Magheru Boulevard where the city hall reused some of last year’s decorations (cost cutting in the economic downturn I think). The last one is showing the University roundabout.
A few steps away from University Square, behind a little square with a fountain, lies the building of the School of Architecture. The building is a hybrid, with an old wing and two new ones. The old wing, which appears in today’s photo, was designed by architect Grigore Cerchez in 1912 in the tradition of Brâncovenesc style, an architectural style developed in Wallachia (historical province of Romania located south of the Carpathians mountains) during the reign of Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714), style which that mixes Eastern and Renaissance motifs, with richly ornate pillars and in this case a heavily decorated facade. This building was dedicated to Ion Mincu, which is considered to be one of the greatest Romanian architects. The two new wings of the building were added between 1963 and 1968. Initiated by the society of Romanian Architects in 1892, the School of Architecture became a state institution in 1897 and reached the university statues in 1904. Today Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning, to name its official title, has departments of Architecture, Urban Planning, Restoration and Interior Design.
Roughtly about two months ago I saw work being done on the southeast corner of the University Square, the one with Colţea Hospital and the Ministry of Agriculture building. Knowing that the little park was renovated only about two years ago I asked myself, as I’m sure many of my fellow citizens did, “Why are they renovating this corner again?”. Turns out they were repairing the fountain and installing a giant bronze violin, a work of artist Ioan Bolborea made after a project by the Italian artist Domenica Regazzoni. Domenica Regazzoni has a series of violins, the one installed in Univeristy Square being “The broken violin”. Sculpture aside, I really like this little corner of peace right in the heart of such a chaotic city as Bucharest. It’s a great place to sit on a bench and watch the world go by.