Boangiu, Gabriela: Identity, Cultural Memory and the XIX Century’s Architecture in Craiova city and Bucharest, Romania

Between Craiova city and Bucharest – the capital of Romania – there are many resemblances regarding their XIXth Century’s architecture. Bucharest was called at the time “Little Paris” because of its “à la française” architecture. Craiova is the second town, after Bucharest in the south of Romania and its architecture keeps its characteristics on the main old streets of the city. The present study tries to highlight, in a comparative manner, the main characteristics of old parts of the cities as they are valued today by local people, administration and cultural tourists. I indent to present a map that highlights the presence of old houses – most of them considered historical monuments of the material patrimony of Romania, both in Craiova and Bucharest.

Craiova was called “the town of the 1000 millionaires” because of its high society members – aristocrats that were the owners of houses, commercial buildings, and land in the city and in the rural parts of Oltenia (Lesser Wallachia). Many Italian and French architects were employed by these aristocrats to build their houses in Craiova. This is how it is explained the French architecture influences on the XIXth Century’s architecture of the city. The earthquake from 1977 changed the configuration on the main street in Craiova – Unirii Street; many of the aristocrats’ houses got ruined. But there still are some of them that remained intact: The Art Museum, Minerva Restaurant, and many others. The ruins are still alive in the memory of the ’40-’50 generations, they remember and talk about the image of the old town as they kept it in their memories. The commercial center of Craiova got renovated and recuperates in part its own old charm from the XIXth Century’s atmosphere – reconstructed architecture, statues and pictures on the walls of the buildings representing chariots and old fashion clothes.

In both cities, Craiova and Bucharest there are guided tours organized by local people, were the history of towns is presented. The history of old architecture and the lives of Romanian aristocrats become alive during a stroll in the city. The history of old pubs and their picturesque names is also part of the city stories –The Gentle Lamb, The Passed Out Female Dog, The Golden Boot.