The National Bank of Romania (BNR – Banca Nationala a Romaniei)

The National Bank of Romania was formed in 1880 but for a given period of time it had performed its activity in various rented spaces situated on Lady Street. So it made it its main preoccupation to build an edifice of its own where it could operate.

The site chosen for the construction of the NBR Palace was located right in the heart of what was back then the commercial center of the town. Today, this area is known as the historical center, as remnants of past edifices can still be found here.

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The construction work took from 1884 to 1890 and the result was a neoclassic edifice, constructed after the plans developed by the French architects Cassien Bernard and Albert Galleron. But the project underwent some alterations under Nicolae Cerchez, who had a double specialization in engineering and architecture.

The project had to be thoroughly considered as the edifice had to comprise special sections, as are needed in a bank: the space designated for the public relations department, the offices of the bank clerks, the director and all the other officials of the institution, the treasury room, the technical department, as well as all the other annexes necessary in a bank.

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The space had to be adequately divided so that the movement inside the bank (the flow of clients) would not be detrimental to the effectiveness of the business (in terms of security measurements and valuable asset protection). After the construction work was completed, the site – the intersection of several streets (Lady Street, Smardan Street, Lipscani and Victoria’s Path) – had been transformed into a real financial center as several other banks had made offices in this location.

The 1900s brought about an idea: to create the Museum of the National Bank of Romania. The plan was put into effect, in as much as on the 3rd of May 1997, the Museum came into being. The museum is found on the ground floor of the National Bank Palace and it is organized as follows: there are 2 lateral naves, 2 alveolar rooms and an armored room.

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As it is probably obvious, the museum revolves around a single theme: the evolution of the Romanian monetary system – how it had changed throughout time. Likewise, the museum also presents briefly the history of the National Bank (how it came into being, the founders and the way in which it had been transformed in time).

All this information is revealed through the impressive collection of currency and the documents found within the museum. These consist of coins which have belonged to ancient Greek colonies (which were located in Left Pont), to the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Geto-Dacians, as well as other foreign currencies which used to circulate in the Romanian territories.

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But the largest collection, and the one which carries the most importance for the Romanian population, is the one comprising the Romanian monetary issues, together with medals, banknotes, official documents and other type of valuable assets.

In the side naves there are 10 enormous exhibitions in which one can admire different types of coins and banknotes, in a chronological order. There are also 8 panels on which there are several papers displayed (maps, drawings, and texts) all relevant in determining the evolution of the coinage system.

The Marble House of the National Bank consists of several pillars and on them, tourists can admire a great collection of coins and medals, all made out of gold, which reflect the currency which was used in various historical times (from the ancient time to the present day).

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One of the Alveolar Rooms is the Gallery of Governors where various portraits of the governors of the National Bank, as well as different documents (both originals and copies), and photographs which capture different stages of the bank’s activity, are found. These again are displayed in chronological order so that visitors can accurately depict which were the coins used at particular times.

But besides the actual coins and banknotes, there are also molds on display – so you can actually see how the coinage has been done with the help of these patterns – and some of the publications of the National Bank. These publications are either those currently issued under the name of the N.B.R. or they date back from the interwar period.

The architecture of the edifice is impressive and due to this design, the Palace has been declared a protected monument.