The institute was founded by Doctor Victor Babes in 1887, and it is the oldest medical scientific institute in the country. Its organization followed the example of Pasteur Institute in Paris. Initially, it was hosted by the old Brancoveanu Palace on Calea Victoriei, but it was endowed with the actual building in 1899. Apart from laboratories, it hosts a museum, a library and three workshops.
Petre Antonescu designed this building in 1935. The architecture of the building is severe, conceived in 90 degree angles. The central wing is endowed with an ample set of stairs. There are tall pilasters along the facade. Above the entrances, between the pilasters, there are statues depicting the great jurists of the ancient times: Licurg, Solon, Cicerone, Papinian, Justinian. The statues were carved by Ion Jalea and Costin Georgescu. The reliefs on the side walls were done by Mac Constantinescu. The building is surrounded by a green area.
Alexandru Ioan Cuza signed the founding deed for Gheorghe Lazar Gymnasium in 1859. It opened in 1860; it had 4 classes, a dorm and 60 students. The actual building dates from 1890, it was designed by Architect Montaureau. The building has an interesting blue stripe facade, as well as a fine clock tower on the Eastern wing.
This building was raised (accomplished in 1892) after the plans drawn by Architect Mandrea. It was meant as a water reservoir which would help regulate the water flow in the city network. It has on the upper part a 750 c.m. water tank. However it was never used for this purpose, as only after the works were accomplished, they realized the water pumps in Grozavesti Quarter did not have enough power to lift the water all the way to the high tank. After the City Plant (Uzinele Comunale Bucuresti) was inaugurated in 1924, there was enough power to do that, but it was no longer needed, as the water network in the city had already been developed and was self-sufficient. Therefore, the structure was used from its completion in 1892 to 1936 by the fire brigade of the city, as it was taller than any other building in the city at the time (1892), with its 42 m. belfry. In 1963 it was turned into the Fire Brigade Museum, mostly interesting for fire brigade buffs. However the view from the top is interesting. If you go there, take your time to walk along the streets around this square. There is a cluster of early 20th century villas which are quite interesting.
Even the communist apartment buildings are different according to the time they were set in. In the 1950s they raised the "Russian blocks", i.e. generally 3 floor structures still boasting some (faint) mock-of-baroque decorations. In the 1960s and 1970s they came with the square like in "square" structure, wide windows, rectangular shape included. Tile designs were at their best, with green and yellow prevailing. The 1980s saw shortages of all kinds, and apartment buildings were grey, no tiles on the facade; the first one is a good example of that period.
The last image / building was one of the structures planted across Bucharest during the late 1980s by the communist city planners, in an intention to kill the idea of traditional flea market. They were supposed to host various state owned grocers', as well as megaorganized vegetable and dairy stands. As the 1980 also meant food supply shortages, with even the basics lacking from shops, these monstruous structures were often empty of anything. So people called them "circul foamei" (En. Starvation Circus), partly because of their round shape cupola that resembled that of a circus, partly as a hint to the mockery they stood for. Funnily, some of them were turned into malls after 1989. This one was not so "lucky".
There are a few very interesating old buildings lined along River Dambovita Quay. So why not take the sidewalk on the river shore, try to ignore the buzz created by the (too) nervous drivers and look to the buildings on the other shore?
I shall start with Natiunile Unite Square. There used to be two similar structures mirroring in Piata Natiunilor Unite. One of the twins collapsed during the 1977 earthquake and it was replaced by a typical, featureless concrete building. This one however still stands and it is well worth looking at.
Merchants used to have their shops on the ground floor, their sleeping quarters upstairs and to store their merchandise in the house cellar. This turned this part of the city in a very vibrant place. With Bucharest failing to turn into the stereotypical tourist cake (thank God for that), many of these houses have not - yet - been turned in drinking holes.
Lipscani Street is the axis around the central Old Town gravitates. The street is very interesting because it hosts many buildings in different architectural styles. Many of them are decaying (and so is the pavement), but do not let this put you down, just like in Casablanca ;)
Just a bit off the central University Square, there are streets few tourists ever visit. Hristo Botev, Armeneasca, Nicolae Golescu, Biserica Amzei, these streets host fine old houses and some of them preserve a peaceful break from the bustling city...
Located in the old part of the city centre, many of these buildings have a charm of their own. The traffic, the rush taking one to visit the "major spots" make us often ignore them. However, many of them are at least just as interesting as the Royal Palace or the Athenaeum are...
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