March 30, 2017

3003 ROMANIA (Bucureşti) - Cotroceni Palace

Between 1679 and 1681, Şerban Cantacuzino, Prince of Wallachia, has deforested a densely wooded area of the former Vlăsia forest, on the right bank of the Dâmboviţa River, on Cotroceni Hill, and erected a monastery on the place of an old wooden hermitage. The monastery was surrounded by walls and had a beautiful church built in a a style that anticipated the Brâncovenesc style. Inside the monastery, the prince raised also a royal residence.

Over time, the Cotroceni Ensemble has undergone several changes, but kept all the time both religious function as well as the one of princely residence. Barbu Ştirbey (1849-1853) restored and redecorated the palace, which became his summer residence. In addition, to facilitate links with Bucharest, the prince built a new road that cut the great domain of the monastery, thus separating the princely area from the one of the future Botanical Garden, of which beginnings date back to 1860.

Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the first ruling prince of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, decided in 1862, the year when the United Principalities have been transformed from a  personal union in an unitary state, and Bucharest become the capital city of the new born state, decided to use the princely houses in Cotroceni as the summer residence. At the beginning of his reign, Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen received the princely houses as a summer residence.

After 1881, when Carol become the first king of the Romanians, he decides to demolish the old princely houses, and to build a palace which would serve as official residence in Bucharest for the future heirs to the throne. Plans of the Cotroceni Palace were made by the French architect Paul Gottereau in classic Venetian style, and the palace was built between 1893 and 1895. Princess Mary and Prince Ferdinand (the future king Ferdinand) moved to Cotroceni in March 1896.

During the rule of King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie, further improvements have been made to the royal palace. Romanian architect Grigore Cerchez redesigned north wing in national romantic style, adding a large room with a terrace above and two towers with columns, one of which being a replica of the famous tower of Hurezu Monastery. Princess, later Queen Mary, left an unmistakable imprint, bearing the seal of his spirit with obvious artistic inclinations.

After the forced abdication of Michael I (December 30th 1947), during the communist dictatorship, much of the furniture was stolen or destroyed, and the books of the library were burned in the courtyard. Since 1949 it was renamed The Pioneers' Palace, being used for various activities by the Pioneers (a communist organization for the children). Severely affected by the 1977 earthquake, the whole ensemble was renovated, being constructed a new wing by the architect N. Vlădescu. The church was demolished in 1984, and rebuilt between 2003 and 2009.

Since 1949 it was renamed The Pioneers' Palace, being used for various activities by the Pioneers (a communist organization for the children). In 1976, during the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu, the palace was transfered to the State Protocol, being transformed in guest house. Since 1991, a part of the Cotroceni Palace has been the place of office for the Romanian President, and the old Royal Palace, built in 1895, houses the Cotroceni National Museum.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series Love Nature! Ceahlău National Park, about which I wrote here. The second stamp, depicting Anthericum ramosum (Anthericum ramosum) (0.50 RON), is part of the series Flowers' Clock II, about which I wrote here

Cotroceni Palace - Wikipedia
Palatul Cotroceni (rom) - Cotroceni National Museum official website
Palatul Cotroceni (rom) - Official website of the Romanian Precidency

Sender: Eugen Mihai (direct swap)
Sent from Bucharest (Bucharest / Romania), on 27.03.2017
Photo: Eugen Mihai

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