Romania - Expo Paris 1900

Romania at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1900
Architect(s) : Formigé

The Romanian palace was situated, not on the quay, on the Rue des Nations where, squeezed between a high curtain of trees and the rolling pavement, it was difficult to judge its truly monumental ensemble. The types of Romanian architecture from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that most inspired Mr. Formigé, the author of this palace, are the churches of Argesu and the three hierarchs of Iassy and Horezu.
On the façades were reproduced various motifs inspired by the architecture and decoration of the religious monuments of Romania. The main door was the porch of the church in Horezu. The windows imitated those of the church of Stavropoleos, the colonnades at the ends were inspired by both the pronaos of Horezu and that of Argesu; finally, on the main façade, the arch of the large tympanum, whose curve was of powerful effect, was borrowed from the church of Argesu and was further enriched by the corbelled cornice of the church of the three hierarchs in Iassy. The latter church also provided the design of the frieze that formed a rich belt around the entire monument.
In the hall, surmounted by a 30-metre high dome, was a staircase leading to the galleries of the first floor, which ended in two elegant pavilions, crowned by two belfries.
Part of the ground floor of the pavilion was reserved for the exhibition of rock salt, the deposits of which are one of Romania's riches. The various varieties of salt were represented by blocks of different sizes, among which was a globe 2 metres in diameter resting on a pedestal 1.5 metres high, also made of salt.
On the ground floor were also exhibited the instruments and processes of letters, sciences and arts, mechanics and metallurgy, and minerals with their industrial derivatives, from petroleum, paraffin, ozokerite, to fossil wax, the beautiful black amber of Wallachia, alabaster, earth coal, lignites, etc...
In the galleries on the first floor were the exhibitions of various industries, military engineering, social economy, education and teaching, where one could admire a collection of remarkable publications of the Romanian Academy, which included more than 110 volumes, one of which, richly bound, was intended for the President of the Republic. A retrospective exhibition completed the series of collections in the pavilion. Also on display were religious fabrics and embroideries belonging to the Bucharest Museum and coming from various convents in Romania, products of Romanian typographic art from the beginning of the fifteenth century (psalters, gospels, liturgical books, in Slavic and Romanian languages); finally, a magnificent handwritten gospel, with illuminations, by the Queen of Romania (Carmen Sylva), whose execution is a marvel of art, and which His Majesty has offered to the cathedral of Argesh.
The Romanian government had also sent the famous treasure of Petroassa to be added to these collections. This solid gold treasure, enriched with gems, is one of the rare specimens of barbarian silverware in Europe and most likely belonged to Athalaric, King of the Visigoths. In view of the considerable value of this treasure, it seemed preferable not to leave it in this pavilion, which is difficult to guard, and it was placed in the Louvre in the Galerie des Bijoux anciens for the duration of the Exhibition.

©Louis Rousselet - L'Exposition Universelle de 1900