Built in 1899–1902 by Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino (known as “The Nabob”, former mayor of Bucharest, leader of the Conservative Party, and one of the richest men in Romania ever), the architectural ensemble was designed by architect Ioan D. Berindei.
The Cantacuzino Palace can be found at 141, Calea Victoriei (Victoria Road), Bucharest. After G. G. Cantacuzino died in 1913, the palace was inherited by his son, Mihail G. Cantacuzino and his wife, Maria (also known as Princess Maruca, born Rosetti-Tescanu); after the premature death of her first husband, Maruca re-married in 1939, becoming the wife of George Enescu, Romania's greatest composer. In the 40’s, the palace hosted the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and since 1947 the Institute for Romanian-Soviet Studies.
After the death of George Enescu, in 1955, his wife donated the domain to the Museum and to the Composers’ and Musicologists’ Union of Romania, to be dedicated to the memory of the musician. Thus, on the 19th of June 1956, George Enescu Museum was opened. The museum gathers documents and pictures referring to the composer’s life and work. Among other exhibits, there also is the violin the composer received as a present when he turned 4 year old. There are regular classical music concerts hosted by the palace (many of them being organized by the Polish Cultural Institute), and this is a good time to visit the building (for otherwise, the main hall of the palace is not included in the regular museum visit).
The palace was set in French Baroque style with Art Nouveau elements. The façade’s richness in sculptural decoration is notable. On the top of the entrance, the circular fronton bears the princely coat of arms of the Cantacuzino family. The facade is dominated by the main entrance; above it there is a giant shell-shaped porte-cochére and two stone lions guard the stairs and the door that mingle harmoniously with the statues and other ornaments in the Baroque style, and wrought iron balconies surround the home's tall windows.
For the decoration of the building, the architect collaborated with several recognized artists of the time. The mural paintings were made by George Demetrescu Mirea, Nicolae Vermont, Costin Petrescu and Arthur Verona, the sculptures and the ornamentation are made by Emil Wilhelm Becker, while the artfulness of Krieger House in Paris can be admired in the interior decoration (tapestry, chandeliers, lamps, stained-glasses).
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