The House with Lions

This beautiful seafront building was constructed according to the plans of the Romanian architect Ion Berindei, between 1895 and 1898. Details of the exterior structure, the size and the framing of the windows, the entrance, and the symbolism of lions are reflections of the Italian neo-classical style. The house belonged to the Armenian merchant Dicran Emirzian, which was a prominent member of the Armenian community who had, in the center of Constanta, a luxury goods store called – “La Luvru”.

The main facade facing towards the Diana street is represented by the four columns of colossal size, with high stone pedestals. At the top of each column, a lion made from stone is placed. Because of this, a special architectural effect was achieved, thus giving the construction the originality and personality which makes it be remembered by visitors and passerby.

The south-western side (from the port) and the eastern side are integrated in maintaining the architectural balance through two balconies arranged marginally on the first floor. Some elements of expression have been suppressed or damaged over the years for various reasons. The building underwent major transformations and degradations between 1974 and 1977 when it was used as the headquarters for the mining company “Dobrogea”

Throughout its history, after Dicran Emirzian decided to move his residence elsewhere, the House with Lions was the residence of an art magistrate, Lazar Munteanu. As the legend has it, a walk in front of the House with Lions, and some paintings in the room of Lazar Munteanu planted inside Krikor Zambaccian’s soul his love for art. He was one of the most representative Armenians from Constanta. Krikor Zambaccian was an art collector and critic, a correspondent member of the Romanian Academy, a beauty lover who invented the concept of art consignment. His collection of modern Romanian and French art was donated to the state,and it currently resides in the museum that bears his name in Bucharest.

After the First World War, the House with Lions became, for a short time, a bank headquarters. Documents from the time indicate that this happened in 1921. Later on, the House was occupied by Emirzian Bebi, Dicran’s son, until 1941, when he moved to Bucharest. The building then had several tenants, and in 1950 it was nationalized. In the 1970’s, the House with Lions went through a restoration process, being transformed into a famous restaurant at the time, which worked until the first years after the 1989 Revolution.

Nowadays, the famous House with Lions, which for several years has been privately owned, is closed because it needs major repairs in order to be functional again. The paradox is that this building is owned by the man known as the most important businessman of Constanta and one of the most powerful investors in Romania, yet the building still remains in a degrading state.

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