Bellu Manor

Bellu Manor is a mid-19th century old Romanian style architecture monument, which belonged to the family of Baron Alexandru Bellu. Originally Aromanians from the Macedonian Pindus, from the town of Pella (birthplace of Alexander the Great), the family settled in Romania around 1780. Apparently, the buildings of the initial complex date back to about the same time — only perhaps a few decades later. The residence in Urlaţi was closest to the Bellus’ hearts.

In Wallachia, the Bellu family made a fortune and became related to important local families of boyars (nobles), such as the Cantacuzinos, Văcărescus, Câmpineanus, Sturdzas, and other old Romanian families. Thus Alexandru Bellu’s grandfather, who lived in the 1900s, married Irina Văcărescu; the family later concluded a matrimonial alliance with Eliza Ştirbei, daughter of Prince Barbu Ştirbei — and the examples may continue.

Alexandru Bellu (1850-1921), one of the family’s last important members, was a man of culture, a lawyer, coin collector, and photographer — one of the forerunners of Romanian photography (his photographs of Romanian peasants were reproduced in the album “La Roumanie en images”, published in Paris, in 1919).

Endowed with a refined taste and a good friend of famous Romanian painter Nicolae Grigorescu, Alexandru Bellu collected various porcelaine items, paintings, silverware, and furniture pieces from all over the world. All the items that are currently exhibited in the Museum are special and have priceless value. Some of them date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Bellu and Grigorescu were such good friends, that they had come to influence each other in everything they did. There seems to be even a serious question about the latter’s “Oxen cart”: was it actually Bellu who photographed it first and then Grigorescu painted it, or did Grigorescu paint it and Bellu was inspired by it upon admiring the work? Hard to tell, as this seems to be a dilemma that not even specialists have been able to sort out.

Although he spent much of his life in Urlaţi, Alexandru Bellu was buried at the cemetery that bears his name now, in Bucharest. His uncle, Barbu Bellu, Minister of Justice during Prince Alexandru-Ioan Cuza’s reign, donated 20 hectares of land to the capital (just like the Văcărescu family), part of which was used for the cemetery. It is here that the collector’s body was buried upon his death. In 1926, his last descendants donated the whole complex of buildings, park, and vineyards that they owned in Urlaţi to the Romanian Academy.

The Bellus loved culture. Many of the family members would collect art items, valuable coins, and bibliophile books. The house hosts an important mix of art and decorative items, which are valuable both in historical and ethnographic terms. Visitors can find here many pieces of ceramics, hand-woven fabrics, Romanian carpets of the 18th and 19th centuries, stone-carved columns, doorframes, and window frames from the same periods, rare luxury edition books, 19th century paintings, faience, furniture from various epochs, icons, chandeliers, candlesticks, Oriental and Far East art items, icons and weapons of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Bellu collection also includes the paintings: “Portrait of a Man” by Pavel Dincovici, “The Peasant Woman” by Eugen Maximovici, “The Old Beggar” by Theodor Aman, as well as several mid-19th century lithographs by Carol Popp de Szathmary.

“The collection contains a number of exceptional items: three 18th century paintings, several decorative art items, silverware, and very old books dating back to 1511”, mentions the director of the Prahova History Museum.

Location: Urlaţi, Prahova county, Romania

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