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The Astronomic Observatory

The Astronomic ObservatoryThe „Admiral Vasile Urseanu" Astronomic Observatory is the only public observatory in the City of Bucharest. The building belonged to Admiral Vasile Urseanu, a passionate of astronomy, who, in 1910, had this building erected in the shape of a sea vessel in downtown Bucharest. „I built my house shaped as a yacht and with an observatory dome, so that while observing the sky through my telescope, I would also experience the feeling of floating on the sea ", Admiral Vasile Urseanu explained in his memoirs.

In his lifetime, the admiral used to organize evening parties and special social gatherings where he would invite his guests to observe the celestial bodies through the telescope installed in the dome of the building. It became the main attraction of these parties. After his death in 1926, his wife, Ioana Urseanu, tended the building for several years. In 1933 she donated it to the City Hall of Bucharest, who set up a picture gallery here. All the materials that reminded of the admiral's passion, astronomy, were moved to the basement of the building. However, in 1950, finally, the building found its true purpose and became the Astronomic Observatory. The equatorial and the telescope were once again installed in the dome and the observatory was opened to the public in early May.

Nowadays, the Astronomic Observatory is the place where astronomy classes are held. With a tradition that goes as far back as 20 years, these classes start every year in November, with one class being held every week. The courses are meant for beginners as well as for people who already have some knowledge in astronomy. The classes on the solar systems, the galaxies, astrophysics and cosmology are accompanied by astronomic applications and observations.

The „Vasile Pârvan” Museum of Archeology

The „Vasile Pârvan” Museum of ArcheologyCasa Macca (The Macca House) (located in 11 Henri Coanda St.) is nowadays a sanctuary for the Institution of Archeology – the „V. Pârvan” Museum of Archeology. The house has a beautiful history, in spite of its advanced state of deterioration.

In 1912, after the death of Elena Macca, wife of Col. Petre Macca (an intendancy officer during the War of Independence of 1877-1878), the „residential estate on Cosma Street” (nowadays Henri Coanda Street)) was assigned to the House of Schools (subordinated to the Ministry of Education).

The building style of the house has led to the assumption that its architect was I.D. Berindey - eclectic, featuring a wide variety of shapes and ornaments, lavished with elements of the art nouveau style. Inside, the rooms are arranged symmetrically around an imaginary axis that connects the ground floor to the attic through a central ellipse-shaped void, created at the first floor and serving as balcony. To get to the ground floor, you must pass through a vestibule that has a marble staircase. The painting on the ceiling is an allegorical representation, while the walls are decorated with painted stucco panels, each having a door with ronde-bosse figurative motifs.

Until 1931 the house was home for the Teaching Library., but N. Iorga, prime-minister at the time, assigned the house to the National Museum of Antiques (NMA). The museum existed since 1934, but until then, it had not had a permanent locale.

Out of the collections donated during the early years of the NMA's existence, a few remained in the property of the Institution of Archeology. Among these, the Egyptian antique collection (the largest in the country) of Mycenaean, Cypriot, Italiot and Attica pots, Roman rush candles and glassware, numismatic pieces and inscriptions. The current archeological heritage comprises important discoveries of archeological artifacts, still organized into research collections, classified according to topographical and chronological criteria, ranging from Paleolithic tools to late medieval artifacts such as epigraphic, architectural, sculptural and numismatic pieces.

The „Sf. Sava” National College

The „Sf. Sava” National CollegeThe „Sf. Sava” (Saint Sava) National College is the oldest school in the Țara Românească province. The school was founded in 1688 at the initiative of Constantin Cantacuzino, High Steward. Teaching was done in the Greek and Latin languages. The School at „Sf. Sava” sprung from the „Academia Domneasca“ (Royal Academy) that had run in the Sf. Sava Monastery ever since the late seventeenth century.

Three important personalities of those times reorganized Academia Domnească (the Royal Academy): Constantin Brâncoveanu in 1707, Alexandru Ipsilanti in 1776 and Ion Caragea between 1814-1817. Along with the Academy of the Phanar and the High School of the Constantinople Patriarchy, both in Istanbul, it ranked among the most important academies in the Balkans.

In 1818, following the initiative of Gheorghe Lazăr, classes started to be taught in the Romanian language at all levels. At the time, the college was structured into three levels: “little humanist” (gymnasium) (with a term of study of four years), “complementary studies” (with a term of study of three years) and „special courses” (higher education with a term of study of three years). In 1864 Reigning Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza came forth with the initiative of splitting the Academy. As result the academic branch was converted into the University of Bucharest, while the secondary education branch was organized into what would later be known as the „Sfântul Sava” National College.

Many of those who attended the courses of the Royal Academy stood out through their prodigious ecclesiastical, cultural and political activity. Some were illustrious representatives of the church, highly cultivated men, engaged in the great political tumult of the 18th and early 19th centuries, metropolitan bishops of Ugrovlahiei (Grigore de la Colțea, Grigore de la Căldărușani, Neofit), bishops (Chesarie de la Râmnic, Chesarie de la Buzău, Ilarion de la Argeș). Others became prominent figures in the country’s political life, at the same time conducting a valuable cultural activity: Nicolae Văcărescu, Grigore Brâncoveanu, Constantin Câmpineanu, Ștefan Bălăceanu, Iordache Golescu, Constantin Golescu, I. Riyos Neroulus etc.

The Victoria Passage

The Victoria PassageThe Victoria Passage, also called the „Imobiliara” or „Bossel” passage, connects Academiei Street to Calea Victoriei. The building at no. 48-5 Calea Victoriei which is crossed by the Victoria Passage, was built by a company named „Imobiliara“ after 1906. The ground floor now hosts the auditorium for the plays of the "Ţăndărică“ Puppet Theatre, but in the past this used to be the hall of one of the old and famous cinemas in Bucharest– the „Select“ Cinema. Stepping back even further in time, it is in this same place that we find the Bossel Hall, named after Friederich Bossel, a Transylvanian Saxon upholsterer, who bought the house in 1839. Bossel changed the building structure, transforming it into a one-storey inn. For three decades in a row, starting with 1849, it was the place where the “most noble balls and the only theatre performances in Bucharest that matched those of the National Theatre” (Gh. Crutzescu) were organized. For this reason, the people of Bucharest used to call it the “Little Theatre “.

Attached to the Imobiliara building, at no. 52, is the Resch House, built in 1855 by Joseph Resch, a jeweler who had arrived from Vienna in 1837 and whose company contributed to the formation of an entire generation of jewellers. The house has its own historical milestones. Ulysse de Marsillac, the French journalist who had fallen in love with Bucharest, lived and died here. In 1885 the house was sold to Grigore Eliade nicknamed Cârciumărescu, believed to be an „uneducated but smart and enterprising“ character. He changed it into the „English Hotel “ and it was on this occasion that the (then) elegant English Passage, linking Calea Victoriei to the Academiei Street, was built.

Halfway through the 19th century, Donat Hugues, a Frenchman, opened the first hotel on the Mogosoaia Bridge, next to the Resch House (at no. 54) – the Hugues Hotel. Together with its famous restaurant it was known as one of the most luxurious and expensive places in the Capital. Mihai Eminescu occupied a room, somewhere at the back of the hotel, in 1868. As surprisingly as it may seem, both buildings – Resch and Hugues – have been preserved up to this day, save for a few alterations, and constitute the oldest buildings on Calea Victoriei.

1940 was the year when the Fu-Chang restaurant was established, in a basement of the Imobiliara Passage. It was the first Chinese restaurant in Bucharest. Because of its position, sheltered from the bombing, in 1944 it became a luxury locale, frequented by the Capital's rich. The restaurant remained opened until the 50s. It was here, in the Passage, that the "Mercur” pub opened in 1933. The residents of Bucharest also called it the "Mer-popou" and it was renowned for its meat specialties and for the best tripe sour soup in the city. In the early 50s, records mentioned the existence of a perfume shop operating in the basement at the center of the Passage, "La Panaitopol" where the "distinguished" men could purchase the “Paciuli” cologne, imported from India, so in vogue at the time.