Sunday, July 2, 2017

Bucharest, Romania - The CEC Palace

The Savings Bank Palace (CEC Palace) is one of the one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest. 

The institution of this historical savings bank was set up in 1864 by order of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, 
but given its rapid development, it soon became obvious the specific activities carried out by the savings bank 
could not be any longer accommodated by its former headquarters. 
This is why the authorities decided the construction of a new headquarters 
able to comply with the amplitude of the institution’s operations.

The construction works started in 1897, an event attended by King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth themselves, 
and the building was inaugurated in 1900. 
The French architect Paul Gottereau was in charge with the design, 
and he successfully lent a prominent French Renaissance style to the building, 
such that at present the CEC Palace is, without overstating, one of the most graciously beautiful buildings in Bucharest. 
The work of Paul Gottereau was complemented by the contribution of Ion Socolescu, 
a Romanian architect in charge with the execution of the works. 

A unique feature of this structure refers to the glass and metal dome 
(the main dome, and the largest of all the other cupolas which over-top the four corner sections of the building) 
set on top of the main hallway. 
The overall picture of the CEC Palace exudes, first and foremost, elegance and balance. 
The interior of the palace is embellished with pictorial works by Mihail Simonide. 
However, its aesthetic qualities aside,
 the CEC Palace is said to feature one of the most solid bearing structures of all the buildings in Bucharest, 
a reputation put to test, amongst others, during the 1977 earthquake, 
when the glass dome was the only element affected, with little and insignificant damage to the rest of the building.

Since the opening, the building was used by CEC Bank (the former state savings bank). 
In 2006 CEC Palace was sold to the municipality of Bucharest to host a museum.

Because the palace is still used as headquarter of CEC Bank, it cannot be visited entirely. 
You can only visit the CEC Museum located in the main hall of the building 
where you can admire the beauty of the interior 
and also some of the original documents of financial transactions from the early years of the bank, 
a collection of bank products since the 1880s until today, 
"piggy banks" and safes, postcards, badges, stamps, commemorative medals, etc.

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