National Bank Palace, Bucharest (1890)
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In the context of the country’s national and political revival after the Union of the two Romanian Principalities of Moldavia and Tara Romaneasca (Wallachia) in 1859, the project of a National Bank became a first priority. The chosen site was Serban Voda Inn, located in the core of the city, itself bearing a 200-years-old trading tradition, but in an advanced state of decay at the time. The work was commissioned to two of the most renowned architects of the time, the French Albert Galleron and the Swiss Cassien Bernard (student and collaborator of Charles Garnier, the author of the Opera in Paris), who designed a Neo-Classical style edifice with an expressive façade, which still impresses by equilibrium and distinction. The old National Bank Palace is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest and a true emblem of the city.
In front of the Bank can be seen, protected by glass, part of the vaulted cellars of the former Serban Voda Inn (Prince Serban Inn). Beneath the streets, throughout the entire historical area of the city, lay deep basements, cellars and galleries, often communicating between them – reminiscent of the medieval Bucharest.