Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bucharest, Romania - The Romanian Athenaeum

The Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneul Român) is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest 
and a landmark of the Romanian capital city. 
Opened in 1888, the ornate, domed, circular building is the city's main concert hall 
and home of the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and of the George Enescu annual international music festival.

The Romanian Athenaeum is an architectural jewel, 
the uniqueness and merits of which have been acknowledged by the fact 
the building was classified a historical monument in 2004 and as part of the European patrimony in 2007. 
Located on the Victory Avenue, the Romanian Athenaeum is a tourist sight, 
the importance of which does not come down exclusively to 
its being one of the most eye-catching architectural marvels of the capital, 
but also to the fact it is home to one of the oldest and most important cultural institutions in Bucharest, 
a major contributor to the artistic scene of Bucharest: the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The Romanian Athenaeum was built between 1886 and 1888, 
designed to accommodate the specific activities carried out by the back then called the Romanian Philharmonic Society
The saying “Daţi un leu pentru Ateneu” (Give one leu for the Athenaeum) dates back to those times
since the building was erected at the initiative of Constantin Esarcu 
who made a public appeal for the raising of the necessary funds. 
The athenaeum was built on the already existing foundations of the riding school laid by the Romanian Equestrian Society.

The chief architect was a Frenchmen, Albert Galleron, 
who designed the building by following the useful guidelines provided by a team of Romanian architects. 
The circular shape of the structure is owed to the already laid out foundations,
but, instead of being a drawback, this feature ensures the originality and singularity of the edifice. 
The facade is guarded, so to say, by 6 monumental 12 meters high columns, 
and the entire structure is over-topped by a monumental dome which rises to 41 meters above the ground level.
Five medallions, each of them rendering the figure of a historical prince of the Romanian Principalities, decorate the peristyle.

The Romanian Athenaeum used to accommodate in the course of history a wide range of cultural activities, 
including exhibitions of paintings and sculptures, 
but given the fact the structure excels by its extraordinary acoustics, 
it became obvious the venue should be put to use chiefly to capitalize this wholesome feature. 
In time, the athenaeum was the launching and affirmation platform for countless figures 
who have contributed to the history of the Romanian music, 
and it was included in the concert tours of numerous international artists. 

At present time, the Romanian Athenaeum is one of the chief venues 
involved in organizing the celebrated George Enescu International Festival. 
It is, furthermore, opened to tourist visits. 

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