Descriptions of buildings
Author: ROUSSEV IVAN
In the 19th c. a tower was built in the central part of the city, on which a clock with a bell has been mounted. This was the most impressive clock tower among those in the other cities on the region. It was built in the late 1889 after the design of the city architect Sava Dimitrievich. It was 24 meters high. The clockwork has been installed and maintained by Oton Ivanov, a prominent figure of the National Revival Period.
Characteristic elements of the town’s architectural appearance at that time were the fountains. Some of the more famous Varna fountains built and used from the 17th up until the beginning of the 20th c. were: Sultan Mahmud cheshmesi (located in the upper part of the square “Musalla”, today Independence Square); Fountain of Bogdan (one of the most revered fountains, built in the late fall of 1646 with a donation from the Prince of Moldova Vassily Lupu, renovated in 1849 with funds granted by the Moldavian Prince Alexander Gika, located in the so called “Bogdan Area” (“Mussa square”) near the Metropolitan’s residence and the cathedral of “St. Athanasius”); The Fountain with the Sun (located opposite to the Town Hall and built in 1836 on the order of Sultan Mahmud II); Skele kapu cheshmesi,or The Fountain of the Harbor Gate (located next to the Harbor Gates of the fortress); Kum kapu cheshmesi (located on the inner side of the fortress gate called “Kum kapusu” (The Sand Gate) and built in 1837 on the order of Sultan Mahmud II); The Fountain of Todor (in the “Varush” neighborhood, built in 1751 by Todor “son of Vaycho, son of Dobre”; repaired by Shteryo P. Shishmanoglu, a descendant of Todor, in June 1899); The Fountain of Raicho; The Fountain of chaush (built in the late 18th c. by Nuhiaà Halilov – resident of the “Chaush zade” neighborhood); Chukur Fountain (built in 1840) ; The Fountain of Vasil Soulin; Penko Chorbadzhi Fountain; The Fountain of Hadji Yanako; Kenar Fountain (located on the “Chengene” marketplace); The Grandma Rada Fountain (built around 1850 by means of the famous Rada Kiryakova, one of the first midwives in the city); The Fountain of Dere Mahala (neighborhood); Dyubek Fountain (built in 1750 in the Armenian neighborhood); Sakali Fountain (built in 1770); Kush Fountain (1840); Tahmis Fountain; The Fountain of Hadji Nazar (1740); Musalla Cheshmesi (one of the oldest and most revered public fountains built on the square of the same name, restored in 1778); Mehkeme Mosque Cheshmesi (built in 1700 in the courtyard of the Mehkeme mosque); Pirli Cheshmesi (1740); Hadji Ali Cheshmesi (located in front of Hadji Ali Mosque); Kavakla Cheshmesi; Hanim Cheshmesi; Hadji Hanim Cheshmesi; Abdurrahman Mosque Cheshmesi (1839); Saat Alti Cheshmesi (the fountain below the clock), etc.
The Varna house was no exception to the style of house building that had imposed itself in the region of the western Black Sea coast during the period. It had two floors with stonework on the ground floor and wood siding on the second. Therefore, mainly the wooden appearance of the buildings stuck in the eyes of the foreigners who visited the city at the time. The siding was made of roughly shaped oak planks, about 5 cm wide, horizontally arranged, with the upper row overlapping the lower. This construction protected buildings against the penetration of rainwater and the permanent and strong sea winds. By the middle of the 19th c. the siding of the facades began to be replaced by wider horizontal girdles and vertical columns at the corners. The ground floor of the buildings accommodated mainly warehouses, while upstairs there were a drawing room, a living room, a bedroom, a closet, a lavatory, a washroom, and a balcony. The urban architecture of the Black Sea region, especially in larger cities like Varna, resembled the architecture of Constantinople.
The massive commercial storage buildings, the so-called “maaza” or "magazia”, appeared after the 1840s. They were built close to the piers of the port and could shape entire streets and neighborhoods. In today's streets “Genoa” and “Drazki” in Varna there are still preserved buildings of this kind, or rather a “memory” for them, because they have been repeatedly repaired and reconstructed over the years.
Impressive in the architectural appearance of the city in the 19th c. were the following private and public buildings: the house of Ianaki Flori, the house of Zeynet Bay, The House of The Bey (now housing the Ethnographic Museum), The Hospital of Paraskeva Nicolau, the Town Hall, the Spanish Consulate, etc. Here is the description of some of them:
The Town Hall: The building was built in 1860. Its main façade has a canopy entrance consisting of four rectangular columns, above which there is a rounded balcony worn by two decoratively shaped consoles. The façade ends with a gable. The windows on all facades are slightly arched and framed with stone frames with small ledge. Today the building houses the State Archives.
The house of Ianaki Flory: It was built in 1865, designed by an Italian architect. This is the largest and most beautiful building in Varna, built before the Liberation in 1878. A fountain was built together with the house. The basic plan of the building is almost symmetrical. All exterior walls are shaped by wide stone frames around the windows, surmounted by a small cornice or pediment. The large volume of the building is sparingly decorated with shallow relief forms, which make it look austere, monumental and with a strong emotional effect. From 1888 to 1898 the building was used as a girl’s high school, from 1900 to 1910 – for the Naval Academy, and later – as a school for deaf and blind children.
The house of Zeynet Bey: It was built in 1850 by an unknown builder and was owned by the wealthy merchant Zeynet Bey Pashaolu. Designed for both a home and a shop. The house is a two-storied building, as the first floor has by a high stone plinth and an orderly colonnade under the jetty on the side of the yard. The second floor has a timber-framed structure with richly profiled wood siding. Today the building is known as the “House of Architects”.
State Secondary Girls' School “Maria Louisa”: It was built in 1893–1900, and was fully furnished and opened for the school year of 1898–1899. A project provided by the Belgian Minister of Education was used for this purpose. The construction of the building is symmetrical, with the central entrance and a monumental three-armed staircase placed in the main axis. The central part of the façade has a rich architectural design. The building is surmounted by a main cornice, plastically enriched by consoles. The appearance of the side façades is analogous to that of the central one, but with more frugal means. Today the building houses the Regional Historical Museum of Varna.
State Secondary Boys’ School: The building was inaugurated on September 18, 1885. It was built by Gencho Kanev from Tryavna, who was at the same time in charge of the construction of the Cathedral of The Holy Assumption. During the construction of the school Master Gencho was using a revised German project of the Czech architect P. Kupka. The architecture of the building bears the distinguishing marks of the neologic style. The building has two floors with a central staircase in the axis of the main entrance. Today it houses the City Art Gallery.
The “Assaretto” building: The building was constructed in 1893–1894 by the French architect A. I.Pierre on the order of the Swedish merchant Paykurich and it was designed for casino and gambling house. In 1911 it was bought by the Italian consul Count Assaretto who used it for housing, as a consulate and a gambling house. The building was built in neoclassical style. The architectural scheme is axial with a centrally located vestibule and staircase. The building is oriented towards the sea and the “Primorski” boulevard. Today it houses the Naval Museum of Varna.
The Officer’s House (Military Club): The construction of the Military Club began in 1897 on the project of the military engineer Todor Boyadzhiev. It was officially opened and inaugurated on December 31, 1899 for the first New Year's officers’ ball. This is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It consists of a ground floor and two other floors. Its architecture is an eclectic mix of different styles - baroque, renaissance, Roman classics. The execution of the intricate details was made with great professionalism.
The “Mother” House (Sailors’ Club): The building was constructed by the charitable society “Mother” as a Vocational Girls’ School under the name “Diligence”. Designed by the French architect A. I. Pierre. It was inaugurated on December 19, 1900. Originally it had one floor, but in 1914 an additional storey was built. This is a renaissance-style building with a symmetrical tripartite composition.
The Cafe-Restaurant of Abut Halbuni: The building was constructed in 1906, designed by the architect Gero Gerov. It had been ordered by the Egyptian merchant Abut Halbuni. It has a simple plan consisting of a high ground floor, first floor and an attic floor. The architectural composition is symmetrical with three axes and the entrance is located in the middle and raised with steps. The building is exquisite. It impresses with its stone carving in an Arab-Moorish style and sharply stands out among the surrounding buildings.
The Sea Garden. By decision taken on June 21, 1891, the Municipal Council of Varna assigned the architect H. Martiné, who was then developing an overall plan of the palace Sandrovo (Evksinograd), the task to prepare a plan of the Sea Garden of Varna. According to the proposal of the Municipal Council, the plan of architect Martiné had to include the area up to the French cemetery (where the Pantheon is located today). The implementation of the plan began in the spring of 1892. The construction of the garden was done by the Czech Anton Novak, who had had his professional training at the palaces Schönbrunn and Belvedere in Vienna and was invited and appointed for that purpose by the municipality of Varna in 1895.
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Кацарски, Г., Е. Пасков. Архитектура, архитекти във Варна. Изд. МС, Варна, [б.г.]; Кацарски, Г. Архитектура на Варна. – 10 книги за Варна 2004, Варна, 2005, с. 127–162.
Мичев, И. Старите чешми на Варна. Описания от XVII–XX в. Изд. „Зограф”, Варна, [б.г.]; Русев, И. Варна през Късното Средновековие и Възраждането (края на XІV в. – 1878 г.). – В: Русев, И., В. Плетньов. История на Варна. Т. ІІ (VII в. – 1878 г.). Изд. „Славена” – Варна, 2012, с. 416–418.
Облаков, Хр. Архитектът аристократ Дабко Дабков. Изд. МС, Варна, 2009.
Русев, И. Варна през Късното Средновековие и Възраждането (края на XІV в. – 1878 г.). – В: Русев, И., В. Плетньов. История на Варна. Т. ІІ (VII в. – 1878 г.). Изд. „Славена” – Варна, 2012, с. 418–419.