Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneul Roman)
- In 1863 a group of men of letters founded a cultural society called Romanian Athenaeum, with the purpose of spreading scientific and cultural knowledge among the population.
- The site the edifice is on was at the end of the 17th c. and the beginning of the 18th c. the private property of the Vacaresti family and where a church was raised, then it became the property of the Romanian Equestrian Society, that wanted to build a riding school.
- After almost two decades from the founding of the Romanian Athenaeum the problem of building a construction was raised, so that the French architect Albert Galleron was asked to build it being helped by Constantin Baicoianu. They used the already existing foundation of the riding school, where from the round shape form of the Athenaeum.
- In 1886 began the construction of the present edifice; part of the money necessary for the construction was raised through the public subscription Daţi un leu pentru Ateneu (give one leu for the Athenaeum).
- The construction has a peculiar architecture – a Baroque cupola preceded by a monumental peristyle on the back side of a small park which assures its sight from Calea Victoriei.
- Behind the triangular fronton that reminds of the ancient Greek temples a cupola stands out, whose circular wall is equipped with round windows having each as exterior ornamental element a metal lyre painted in golden bronze.
- The construction has also characteristics of Neoclassical architecture. On each side of the peristyle there are two corner pavilions whose height is at the line of the frontispiece with the inscription of Romanian Athenaeum.
- Under the peristyle there are five medallions in mosaic that represent the five famous rulers of the country: Neagoe Basarab, Alexandru cel Bun, king Carol I, Vasile Lupu and Matei Basarab. The construction finishes with a rich decorated cupola.
- The central part of the edifice is 41m high and has inside the hall – at the inferior level – as well as the concert hall situated above the hall.
- The interior of the edifice impresses through the somptuousness of the lobby, with the 12 columns that support the central vault. Above the vault there is the concert hall of the Athenaeum.
- Four spiral staircases, with balcony-landings, lead to the upper-floor, representing an element of novelty in the edifice architecture.
The concert hall has 600 seats in the pit and 52 boxes.
- Above the boxes, surrounding the cupola tambour, excepting the place where the stage is, there is a 3m wide and 70 m long fresco, painter Costin Petrescu’s work of art. The fresco represents 25 scenes from the history of Romania.