Banca Națională a României

The BNR Palace (Banca Națională Română – The National Bank of Romania) is probably the most well-known building from the historic center of Bucharest. Situated on Lipscani Street, the Palace was constructed towards the end of the 19th century, starting with 1883 and being finished in 1900. The land on which it was raised on, stood before the Șerban Vodă inn, which has been passed on to the state in 1863. At that time, the inn was almost abandoned, having lost the charm and happiness that surrounded it before.

The two architects of this project were Frenchmen Cassien Bernard and Albert Galleron, and the official beginning of the construction work came in 1984. The buildings that stood here were demolished one year earlier.

The Palace was finished later than it was projected, because of the war between Serbia and Bulgaria and the total cost of the constructions, which exceeded the expectations of the Bank. The foundations were laid following the plan of N. Cerchez. Once finished, the building was named by architect Ion Mincu „the most beautiful building in Bucharest”. It was impressive through its’ imposing stature, its’ distinction and massiveness. The architecture was specific to the French Renaissance period and it can be observed in the interior and exterior of the Palace. The mural paintings were realized by G.D. Mirea, Nicolae Grigorescu and Eugen Voinescu.

The first major change regarding the interior of the Palace came in 1915, when the gallery that was at the first story of the building was replaced by large office spaces. The Palace was occupied by the German army between 1916 and 1918, and needed restauration in 1920, especially because the National Bank had bigger political and economic duties, as a result of the Union in 1918. In 1923, the National Bank buys 2 buildings situated in the vicinity of the Palace: the Zaharia building and the building of the Modern Theater.

The most important changes of the Palace come at the end of the 1920s. Among these are: the heightening of the 3 secondary wings with a new level in order to build more office spaces, changes in the gallery from the 1st floor, and the living quarters were reduced to a minimum. These changes weren’t sufficient though, and in 1940, because of the lack of space, the National Bank starts building a new Palace, on Doamnei Street, in which it will move starting with the year 1950.

The BNR Palace is in somewhat of a contrast with the look of the historic center of Bucharest – it’s a grand, imposing structure that is hidden between narrow streets.

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