“Bucharest: A Novecento portrait. The Story of a Century in 555 Anniversaries” is an exhibition aiming to tell the story of Bucharest in the 20th century. It will be on display from March 11th to April 30th at Grand Hotel Continental with special guests Emanuel Bădescu and Adrian Crăciunescu.
“The city lives through many souls. We have a city that introduces itself, a city carrying a message, whose details change with almost every generation. The city speaks through the voices of people of all ages, thus having more voices synchronized with attitudes, deeds, and projections of the future. The current project wishes to map the human geographies of the 20th century. The maps that overlap do not belong exclusively to the past, but rather to an on-going present whose last words wish to define a potential prognosis for a medium term. If the first map is connected to the symbolic geography of a living organism, to the messages continued and multiplied through adds, facades and public spaces – streets and gardens –, the maps that will follow are constantly moving because they are connected to the humanity that evolved here and has been consuming them for over four generations. The people of the streets represent a barometer of human civilization through what they are as attitudes, fashion, life projections and especially what they consume every day and at every age. But the city-man has a home-life very differentiated by a professional and cultural calendar, always enriched and diversified through accumulation and multiplication. His story and Her story, on the axis of a vertical time, from the 1900s to the 2000s, from grandparents to grandchildren, does not have a consistent precedent in Romanian history. The history of habitation, the spaces of the house and its accessories all have their own story. But there is also an axis of the horizontal time, that of ages repeating with every generation: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senescence. Finding out how the faces of these ages looked like from 1900 to 2000 is an anthropological challenge, and Bucharest can be an interesting case study for Romania’s cultural history. This journey through the 20th century is not about detailing the evolution of urban society, but about showing, generally, changes in behavior, life-style, interests and even type of dwelling and interior design.”
Dr. Adrian Majuru
Grand Hotel Continental is a chic hotel built in the 20th century and inspired by the style of other fashionable edifices in Paris. The story of the hotel starts with Grand Hotel Broft. Some of its most famous guests were Prince Napoleon and the famous French trader Jobin. After the defeat of the Ottoman army in 1877, Osman Pasha, the army’s ruler, was held prisoner in the chambers of the 104 apartment of this hotel before being deported to Russia. Legend says that Osman Pasha would sit the window of his apartment to salute the young, victorious, and soon to be king, Carol I, who was marching with his troops on the street outside the hotel, a march that determined the change of the name of the most important boulevard in Bucharest to Victoria’s Street.
In 1885, Hotel Broft was closed down and reopened after one year as Grand Hotel Continental, a hotel that survives up to this day. The hotel’s days of glory start at the beginning of the 20th century, when it hosted guests of the local and foreign aristocracies and became the meeting place for Bucharest’s intellectual elite. Renowned writers, mathematicians, actors and musicians met at Continental Restaurant, soon to become the most fashionable restaurant in the city.
Having gone through so many years of history, the hotel was not spared from events such as the 1940 earthquake that caused major damage to the building. Later on, the hotel was closed down during the communist regime period of formation (1948 – 1974). Things got better in 1979 when Grand Hotel Continental was reopened as a hotel. In 1989 the building is returned to the Menachem Elias foundation. In 2005 the hotel was closed down again for restauration works and reopened after 4 years in its current state, when it was also included in the Patrimony of the Romanian State.
Grand Hotel Continental is not only a halting place for travelers, but an extraordinary experience as well, a mirror to the past. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and you can almost hear the carriages crossing the Mogoșoaia Bridge, king’s Carol I army marching by the hotel, or Osman Pasha’s steps in apartment 104. Grand Hotel Continental is more than a hotel, is a place frozen in time, where you can experience history.