Roman Athena, Temple of National Culture (Documentary)

The Roman theater was built in the Bishop’s Garden, a land belonging to the Văcăreşti family. On the recommendation of the French architect Charles Garnier, author of the Opera Garnier in Paris, the French architect Albert Galron designed the building plans, so that the riding school started by the “Roman Riding Society” could be used. The building was opened on February 14, 1888.

In 1935, on the initiative of George Enescu, funds were raised for the construction of an orgy concert, which is located in the background of the stage. The organ was built by EF Walcker & Co. Ludwigsburg Württemberg and opened on April 22, 1939 with a concert by Franz Schutz, director of the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna.

Round, dominated by a large dome, with a main facade in neoclassical style, the Athenaeum has the appearance of an Ionic temple, with six front and two sides columns. At the main entrance, the eight Ionic columns have proportions similar to those of the Erechteion Temple on the Acropolis.

Around the large dome of the building you can see the names of famous scholars engraved in the wall. Among them are Myron Kostin, Georgy Shinkai, Dmitriy Kantemir, Ion Hilide Rodiolsko and Timothy Sibario.

The facade is a perimeter 48 meters wide. Under the baristel are five mosaic medallions representing the five great rulers of the country: Neagoe Basarab, Alexander the Good, King Carol I of Romania, Vasile Lupu and Matei Basarab.

The total height of the building up to the top of the dome is 41 metres. Inside, the concert hall measures 28.50 meters in diameter and 16 meters in height, with 600 seats on the ground floor and 52 lodges.

At a conference in February 1888, Alexandru Odopscu declared: “Will not the enchantment of the spectator of national history with which we want to see the frieze covered around the circular hall of our future Athenaeum be a true miracle of collages?”

A few years later, on the circular wall of the Athenaeum was written in gilded letters: “A place dedicated to the great mural that will mark the main stages of Roman history.”

In 1901, the painter Ștefan Popescu made the premiere of the creation of this artwork. The offer was rejected, because the amount requested, at least 80,000 lei, seemed enormous.

In 1933, after 32 years, the decoration of the frieze began, accepting the project drawn up by the painter Kostin Petrescu. Begun in 1933 and opened on the evening of May 26, 1939, the fresco is 3 meters wide and 70 meters long, extending over the inn, around the drum of the dome, excluding where the theatre is located. Consists of 25 representative scenes from the history of Romania.

In 1940, Ion Antonescu, who took power in Romania, asked the painter Costin Petrescu to remove from the fresco the former King Carol II, which had become undesirable. In place of the previous king, Costin Petrescu painted an allegory of peasants representing the great provinces of Romania that were reunited: the Old Kingdom, Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina.

Between February 21 and 23, 1948, in the Roman Athenaeum, a conference for the unification of PCR with PSD and the formation of PMR was held. In preparation for the conference, the fresco at the Athenaeum, painted by Costin Petrescu, was covered in red velvet, to conceal the monarchy’s role in Romania’s history.

During 1966-1967, the Athenaeum did extensive work to introduce air conditioning, restore the roof, change seats, redistribute the lodge, and widen the windows. On this occasion, the red velvet covering the mural, which had been hidden from view for nearly two decades, was removed. Costin Petrescu also made the exterior mosaics at the Romanian Athenaeum.

In the antebellum period, the alleys of Athena Park were decorated with busts representing great Roman politicians, culture or artists.

Unfortunately, it was not preserved. After they were removed, one statue was placed in front of the Athenaeum, the “Runners,” made by sculptor Alfred Boucher in 1913.

The Roman Hall of Athens has been included in the list of historical monuments since 2004

Athens was unified, restored and modernized during the period 1994-2004 by many architects and engineers. It reopened in 2005, on the occasion of the 17th edition of the George Enescu International Festival.

On March 21, 2007, on the occasion of the celebration in Romania of the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, a plaque was placed on the wall of the Romanian Athenaeum marking the inclusion of this monument on the European Heritage List.

In the Roman theater, all the dedicated and young professional artists of the country performed, many world-class orchestras and soloists took the stage, and here, too, masterpieces of local musical literature were launched.

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