Hanul lui Manuc – Manuc’s Inn (1802)
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When in Bucharest, “Hanul lui Manuc” should definitely be among your top visiting priorities. Apart from its distinguishing appearance and uniqueness, Manuc’s Inn is one of the few remaining vestiges of Bucharest’s vanished caravansaries and of the patriarchal city. (see “Bucharest in the Pre-Modern Period: The Oriental City”)
The inn was built by the Armenian Emanuel Mârzaian, nicknamed by Turks “Manuc Bey”, a grain merchant, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Balkans in his times. Very clever and intelligent, speaking a dozen languages to perfection, Manuc was involved in both political and love intrigues being a real novel character. The ambitious merchant bought a piece of land that had been part of the Princely Court and decided to build a large inn that he wanted to differ from the existing ones, which were much more austere in appearance. Particularly distinguishing Manuc’s Inn, and conferring it the open and welcoming look, are the arcaded open galleries running around the courtyard on both levels. The arched arcades supported by carved wooden pillars originate in the rural Wallachian domestic architecture, and where quite common in Bucharest up to the half of the 19th century.
Once inside the large courtyard, one can easily imagine the tilt carts and the “mixture of costumes, merchants arrived from everywhere, townspeople, clergy, peasants and gypsies, all moving around, talking, negotiating, dealing, arguing“. (see a picture of Manuc’s Inn in 1841)
The glazed veranda above the entry gate, an architectural element widely spread in the Balkan-Ottoman influence area, is the finest of such original structures in the city. Manuc’s Inn is the only shingle-roofed building in central Bucharest -once very common, this type of roof was forbidden by the City Hall after the Big Fire of 1847.
Re-opened and brightly refurbished, Manuc’s Inn is considered “the last caravansary of South Eastern Europe”.