In 1679 Mr. Stefan Cantacuzino raised the Cotroceni hill a monastery. In 1888, Prince Carol I of Romania built a palace monastery to serve as residence in Bucharest. Building plans were made by architect Paul Gottereau in classic Venetian style.
Later, Romanian architect Grigore Cerchez redesigned the north wing national romantic style, adding a large room with a terrace and two gazebos above the columns, one of which was a replica of the famous Hurez gazebo.
Cotroceni Palace is part of the Cotroceni National Museu, an institution specialized in presenting the medieval and modern history of the palace, and its evolution and transformation over time. Cotroceni Palace, the church and monastery reflect three centuries of history where political, military, diplomatic, religious and cultural aspects are directly interwoven with the general evolution of Romanian society. Unfortunately, in 1977, former President Nicolae Ceausescu converted the palace into a guest house and in 1985he ordered for the church built by Stefan Cantacuzino to be demolished.
Thus, over three centuries, a long line of remarkable personalities have made decisions and ruled Romania from here, starting with the founder of the palace, the rich prince Serban Cantacuzino. Among them, we should remember Constantin Brancoveanu, Nicolae Constantin Mavrocordat, Alexandru Ypsilanti, Gheorghe Constantin Hangerli, Alexandru Mourousis, Barbu Stirbei, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Carol I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and Ferdinand I.
By its content, the museum displays a rich variety of art belonging to Romania’s national values, as well as decorative arts from all over the world. Cantacuzinian space seems to be a space suitable for organizing presentations of works of art that highlights the exceptional value of old age. Among notable items on display there are richly carved tomb stones – an expression of admirable art of carvers and decorators, as testimony of the vigor the art of Cantacuzino and Brancoveanu architectural styles.
Currently the Cotroceni Ensemble proves that architectural design has a clear unity and artistic composition. The core of the ensemble is the monastery built in the late 17th century by Serban Cantacuzino, an exceptional piece of Romanian medieval art and architecture. It has undergone many changes over the three centuries of existence; some are remarkable in design and proportions, and others being totally inadequate. But they did not affect the initial conception of the building, its structure and general expression of volumes.
The interior architecture of the museum and the spaces within the buildings that are part of the Cotroceni ensemble is perceived as a stylistic conglomerate, at first leading to a slight confusion caused by putting together or overlapping several functional and aesthetic remodeling interventions. Until today, the most typical works are the initial construction of the monastery (late 17th century) and the royal palace (late 19th early 20th century), as well as the recent restoration and expansion of the whole.
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