The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest and a landmark of the Romanian capital city. This building was one of the reasons why Bucharest received the nickname of Little Paris.
The Romanian Athenaeum was built between 1886 and 1888, designed to accommodate the specific activities carried out by the back then called the Romanian Philharmonic Society (an institution founded in 1868). The inside of the athenaeum (the concert hall) has a capacity of almost 800 seats under a dome with a height of 16 meters and a diameter of 28.5 m. The project of the Romanian Athenaeum was carried out by the French architect Albert Galleron, together with the Romanians Grigore Cerchez, Constantin Olanescu, Ion Mincu, Ion Gr. Cantacuzino. The style of the building is neoclassical, but in it are found the elements of eclecticism and 19th-century French architecture.
If the basic utility of the Athenian is that of a concert hall, it also has a symbolic function, to represent the greatness of the cultural heritage of Romanians and to evoke the glorious past of some important historical personalities. Both in the hall and on the outside are the names and representations of the personalities that the era has retained as memorable, along with the names of the arts and scientific fields. Under the triangular pediment supported on six majestic ionic columns are the mosaic portraits of five rulers: Neagoe Basarab, Alexandru cel Bun, Vasile Lupu, Carol I and Matei Basarab. The golden mosaic recalls the Byzantine heritage of the country and suggests a true cult of dynastic figures.
The Philharmonic has held concerts there continuously since 1888, but the Athenaeum has also hosted conferences, painting exhibitions, symposiums.