Hanul Gabroveni: The Phoney Restoration

The phoney Hanul Gabroveni and the sketch from 1923 which inspired the renovation. The real Hanul Gabroveni was in fact on the other side of the road. Photo courtesy rezistenta.net. Click for the original.
The phoney Hanul Gabroveni and the sketch from 1923 which inspired the renovation. The real Hanul Gabroveni was in fact on the other side of the road. Photo courtesy rezistenta.net. Click for the original.

The newly renovated Hanul Gabroveni – set to become a cultural centre this summer – was presented to the press yesterday, and judging by the heaps of uncritical positive coverage in the Bucharest and Romanian press this morning none of the hacks present appear to have brought up the slightly awkward fact that this particular han is not, and indeed never has been, Hanul Gabroveni.

The good people at Rezistenta Urbana (who we are happy to admit we do not always agree with, and we would suspect they feel much the same) have – unlike the so-called journalists at yesterday’s presentation who simply copy/pasted verbatim the official press release – done some proper reporting and recently posted this enlightening article on their Facebook page. We reproduce it here with their permission:

The building which, according to a list of historic monuments from 2004, is currently known as Hanul Gabroveni (Gabroveni’s Inn) never in fact previously held that name, not from its construction until 1976, when the first list of historical monuments in Bucharest was compiled. Indeed, in the 18th century the site of the so-called Hanul Gabroveni (which has two addresses: Strada Lipscani 86 and Strada Gabroveni 51) was actually home to two entirely separate buildings: one facing Strada Gabroveni (which belonged to the family of merchant Tudor Hagi Tudorachi) and another on Strada Lipscani.

Some time before 1871 the building became a commercial gallery, and was known as Pasajul Comercial. Before 1900 it was extended, with an upper floor being added above both the north and south parts. After the building was nationalised in 1950 it became the property of CENTROCOOP which treid – on numerous occasions – to have it demolished. The building was eventually abandoned, although some emergency repairs were carrie dout in 1998, only for the building to suffer a fire in 1999.

The building became associated with the name Hanul Gabroveni – which was in fact on the other side of the road – only after 1977. The real Hanul Gabroveni had long since become the Hotel Universal (in 1900, in fact). As such, the actual name for what is today being touted as the 18th century Hanul Gabroveni should in fact be Hanul Hagi Tudorachi, dating from some time in the mid-19th century.

You can read more about the history of the building here: http://www.academia.edu/628189/Pasajul_Comercial

To sum up:

1. The actual Hanul Gabroveni was on the other side of the road to the phoney one, and was where Fire Club is today.
2. The city council is intentionally falsifying history.
3. The the facade of the Hanul Gabroveni which is not Hanul Gabroveni was renovated ad hoc from a sketch dating from 1923: nobody has any idea whatsoever how the original actually looked.

All this because the nobody actually bothered to take an interest in what building was actually here before. The exterior of the new building (which will host an arts organisation, ArCuB) is disappointingly banal, and is designed to fool the easily impressionable with no regard for the actually history of the area. It is no doubt assumed that the public at large has little idea of the actual facts, and that given how nobody in the mainstream press will tell them any different, the authorities can get away with whatever they like.

It goes without saying that the idea to restore the building was a good one; however, from no doubt good intentions what we have ended up with is kitsch and false history. A pity.

And how much did it all cost? Around 30.3 million lei (about €7 million): all public money.

  • Thanks Lindsay. Although it appears as though along way I recall the night time. Hoping you and your Mummy nicely.

  • Mr Rearguard

    ”And how much did it all cost? Around 30.3 million lei (about €7 million): all public money.”……………..Blimey, so they must have paid around two thousand euro per bag of cement? Looks jerry built if you ask me. I bet the plumbings none too clever.