The Cantacuzino Palace – George Enescu House

141 Calea Victoriei, sector 1, Bucharest

Photo credits: Mihai Oroveanu Collection

Built in 1901 – 1903 for Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino aka “The Nabob”, mayor of Bucharest, prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, what is today the Cantacuzino palace shared the architectural know-how of Ioan D. Berindei and the expertise of other renowned artists of the time: D. Mirea, Nicolae Vermont and Costin Petrescu (mural paintings), architect Emil Wilhelm Becker (sculptures and sculptural decorations) and the Krieger House in Paris (interior design elements such as tapestry, chandeliers, lamps, stained glass). The façade distinguishes for the richness of sculptural decorations, while above the entrance the circular pediment features the coat of arms of the Cantacuzino family.

With the Nabob’s death in 1913, his son Mihail and daughter-in-law Maria (Maruca, née Rosetti-Tescanu) inherited the palace. Maria became, after her husband died prematurely, the wife of George Enescu, the couple living between 1945 and 1946 in the house, originally designed to serve as an administrative space, behind the palace.

The headquarters of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in the 1940s, the building turned in 1947 into the Institute for Romanian-Soviet Studies. After the death of George Enescu in 1955, Maruca donated all buildings on the domain to the Romanian state to establish a museum in memory of the great artist. Indeed, in 1956 the George Enescu National Museum opened in the Cantacuzino palace.

The Belle Époque ambiance can still be felt in the museum’s cosy rooms, three of which are open to visitors. The permanent exhibition displays photographs, manuscripts, various documents, diplomas, medals, drawings, sculptures, musical instruments, costumes, furniture, decorative art, personal objects, a cast of Enescu’s hands and his death mask.

Since 2007 the George Enescu National Museum is a European Heritage site.