In 1865 the Cultural Society Romanian Athenaeum was founded and after 20 years enough money were raised to start the construction. A big part of the funds were gathered by public subscription, under a famous slogan, still remembered today: "Give a 'leu' for the Ateneu".
The building was designed by a French architect and on the 14th of February 1888 it was officially inaugurated, although work continued until 1897. The style of the building is neoclassical with some romantic influences. The inside is even more impressive than the outside. The circular wall of the concert hall is decorated with a 75-square meters long and 3 meters wide fresco, illustrating the most important moments of Romanian history.
Even though the building survived the World War 2, important restoration work has been made in 1992, saving the building from collapse. The total cost of the restoration was 9 million Euros.
The Romanian Athenaeum is a true sanctuary of culture. Some of the names that performed on its stage are Herbert von Karajan, Dinu Lipatti, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Erich Kleiber, Igor Strawinsky, Richard Strauss, Paul Robeson and many others. Since 1953, the State Philharmonic George Enescu activates at the Athenaeum.
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