Cotroceni Palace

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Cotroceni Palace
Palatul Cotroceni
Cotroceni Palace Garden - Bucharest 07.jpg
General information
Architectural style Brâncovenesc style
Town or city Bucharest
Country  Romania
Construction started 1888
Design and construction
Architect Paul Gottereau
Grigore Cerchez
(the northern wing)

Nicolae Vlădescu
(the new wing)

Cotroceni Palace (Romanian: Palatul Cotroceni) is the headquarters and residence of the President of Romania. It is located at Bulevardul Geniului, nr. 1, in Bucharest, Romania. The palace also houses the National Cotroceni Museum.

History[edit]

The Cotroceni Monastery (1679-1682)[edit]

In 1679, a monastery was built by Şerban Cantacuzino on Cotroceni Hill in the first year of his rule on the place of an old wooden hermitage. The plans of this new monastery kept many of the traditional architectural elements found in the principalities of Romania at the time. The Cotroceni monastery was completed in 1682, and has since been visited frequently by many pilgrims and documented in various Chronicles.[1]

The royal palace (1883-1895)[edit]

Painting of Carol I sitting at his desk.

Cotroceni Hill was also the place of residence of many of Romania's rulers for a time until 1883, when King Carol I of Romania received the residences and ordered them demolished with plans to build a much larger edifice in their stead which would serve to house the future heirs to his throne.

Construction of this new royal palace was commissioned to begin in the year 1888, the project being placed under the direction of French architect Paul Gottereau.[2]


The north wing (1915-1926)[edit]

Early 1900s photograph of Cotroceni Palace, taken by Romanian photographer Alexander Antoniu.

During the rule of King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie, further improvements have been made to the royal palace. At the request of Queen Marie, the north wing of the palace was completed with the space that would be used to house the maids of honor and adjutants in duplex apartments of sorts. A gymnastics hall at the semi-basement was also built, taking up the space where it is assumed that a chapel would have resided on the ground floor. On October 1915, the space was refitted to accommodate central heating.

In 1925, Grigore Cerchez began his work on the Cotroceni Palace by adding a living room with a gazebo on the first floor. On the second floor, he added a small terrace on the northern face along with an additional gazebo. Cerchez continued to work on the two adjacent salons on the first floor of the north wing,[3] as well as the Grand Reception Hall that distinguished this part of the building, until 1926.[4]

In 1929, Grigore Cerchez has achieved the functional completion of the north-eastern corner of the palace, having created a loggia at the library's level. Above the library, a large storage area was built as an annex to the royal dormitory.[3]


The socialist occupation (1947-1948)[edit]

At the 30th day of December 1947, King Michael I was forced to abdicate by the communists.[5] At that point, the new government had control of the palace which was then uninhabited by the royal family.

On February 13, 1948, the new government held a meeting in which the destiny of the palace would be decided while an inventory of the royal goods was taking place. There were multiple requests for different functions the palace could serve, from a University of Medicine to a headquarters for the National Union of Romanian Students.[6] On May 26 that year, decree number 38 was issued, in which the Presidium of the Grand National Assembly of the People's Republic of Romania has decided that "all goods and estates that were found from the date of March 6, 1945 in the possession of the former king Mihai and other members of the former royal family shall be passed into the possession of the Romanian state."[7] Finally, on June 18, 1948, the Council of Ministers has decided that the Cotroceni Palace, its "five bodies, 150 rooms, park, the property of the state" would be placed under the administration of the Ministry of Interior. The same decree stipulated that other valuables found within the palace would be redistributed among various ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health.

After the new administrator of the palace has settled in, around 1,000 objects, including paintings, sculptures, icons, furniture, rugs, draperies, dishes, and other decorative items were missing. They were taken by the Ministry of Art and Information at the proposal of a special commission "to take objects of art from the Cotroceni Palace."[8] The majority of the remaining objects were redistributed to various institutions and organizations, including the press arm of the Ministry of Art and Information, the "Bee" Society (Societatea "Albina"), and the restaurant union "Ambasador".


The "Pioneers' Palace" (1949)[edit]

In April 30, 1949, a school children's program called the "Pioneers" was about to receive its first group ceremony,[9] which would mark a moment in the Cotroceni Palace's history in which it would be re-purposed for the use of these children who were preparing to become "dignified citizens devoted to their homeland and The Romanian Worker's Party."[10] It was around this period of time when the Cotroceni Palace took on another name — Palatul Pionierilor, known in English as The Pioneers' Palace (also known as young communists).

The retrofit was to take place in four stages, during which the building would allocate rooms for a bigger library and centers or workshops for chess, miniature aircraft, automobiles, radiophony, photography, painting, choreography & dance, history, and ceramics.[11]

In addition to the retrofits, the palace was also to be used as a cinema and auditorium.[11] The Pioneers' Palace, however, was not inaugurated until June 1, 1950 — approximately one year after it was meant to be inaugurated.[11]

Modifications by the socialist regime (1949-1976)[edit]

Staircase at the Cotroceni National Museum

After the abdication of King Michael I, the new government has made several well-documented changes to the palace:

At the ground floor

  • Hanging lamps from the principal entrance were unmounted.
  • Plaster ornaments — as well as the anthropomorphic gable over the stairs of honor — were either detached, forced down, or broken.
  • Stucco marble pilasters and boards were covered with clay and paint. They were also perforated for the mounting of electrical chords or piping for heat.

At the first floor

  • The neo-German-style living room and the Golden Salon were destroyed.
  • All of the Ruse stone columns from the White Salon (known also as the Cerchez salon) were painted with dark ash polyvinyl paint.
  • All of the space within the new living room (planned by Grigore Cerchez) and kitchen were transformed.

At the second floor

  • All of the spaces used by the children of the royal family — as well as the loggia area towards the principal courtyard — were emptied of any finishes.
  • The dormitory of Ferdinand I was completely destroyed.
  • All of the spaces between the Ferdinand I's dormitory and Maria's painting salon, save for the cherry wood stairs, were abolished.

At the third floor

  • The spaces on this floor have all been modified radically.[12]

In 1976, during the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu, the Cotroceni Palace once again changed its purpose after its transfer to the State Protocol (Protocolul de Stat). Its new function would be as a residential building — a guest house.[13]

Vrancea earthquake (1977)[edit]

In 1977, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck Vrancea County and damaged several buildings in Bucharest. The Cotroceni Palace was among these buildings, and suffered such extensive damage that a project had to be commissioned for restoration and consolidation.[14]

Present day[edit]

Since 1991, Cotroceni Palace has been the residence of the Romanian President. The National Cotroceni Museum is located in one wing of the palace open to the public.

Coordinates: 44°26′02.79″N 26°03′42.01″E / 44.4341083°N 26.0616694°E / 44.4341083; 26.0616694

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mănăstirea Cotroceni" [Cotroceni Monastery] (in Romanian). Ziarul Lumina. 2009. 
  2. ^ "Manastirea Cotroceni" [Cotroceni Monastery] (in Romanian). CrestinOrtodox. 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Ansamblul de la Palatul Cotroceni" [Assembly of the Cotroceni Palace] (in Romanian). Revista Constructiilor. 2010. 
  4. ^ "Vă mai amintiţi de: Grigore Cerchez" [Do you remember: Grigore Cerchez] (in Romanian). Adevărul. 2010. 
  5. ^ McClure, Tammy L. (2005). My Enemy My Friend: Kadish for a Wehrmacht Officer. iUniverse, Inc. p. 76. 
  6. ^ Gură, Nicoleta Ionescu (1998). Palatul Cotroceni de la reşedinţă regală la palat al pionierilor [The Cotroceni Palace — From the royal residence to the pioneers' palace] (in Romanian). Muzeul Naţional Cotroceni, Colocviul Naţional de Istorie şi Istoria Artei Decorative. 
  7. ^ Căzănişteanu, Constantin (1994). Palatul Cotroceni în anii 1948-1949 [Cotroceni Palace during the years 1948-1949] (in Romanian). Muzeul Naţional Cotroceni, Colocviul Româno-American - Cotrocenii în istorie, 15-17 iulie 1993, Bucureşti. p. 137. 
  8. ^ Căzănişteanu, Constantin (1994). Palatul Cotroceni în anii 1948-1949 [Cotroceni Palace during the years 1948-1949] (in Romanian). Muzeul Naţional Cotroceni, Colocviul Româno-American - Cotrocenii în istorie, 15-17 iulie 1993, Bucureşti. p. 138. 
  9. ^ "Pionierii" [Pioneers] (in Romanian). Liceul Teoretic de Informatică. 
  10. ^ Broşura "Palatul Pionierilor Bucureşti" (in Romanian). p. 2. 
  11. ^ a b c Fond C.C.al P.C.R. - Secţia Organizatorică [Case of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party - Organizational Section] (in Romanian). file no. 83/1949. A.N.I.C. 
  12. ^ Vlădescu, Niculae; Badea, Petre (2009). Palatul Cotroceni/Cotroceni Palace, Ediţie îngrijită şi prefaţă de Doina Uricariu [Cotroceni Palace, edition maintained and foreworded by Doina Uricariu] (in Romanian). Bucharest: Universalia. pp. 73, 74, 81. 
  13. ^ Vlădescu, Niculae; Badea, Petre (2009). Palatul Cotroceni/Cotroceni Palace, Ediţie îngrijită şi prefaţă de Doina Uricariu [Cotroceni Palace, edition maintained and foreworded by Doina Uricariu] (in Romanian). Bucharest: Universalia. p. 8. 
  14. ^ "Palatul Cotroceni" (in Romanian). Sector 5 City Hall in Bucharest. 

External links[edit]