Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, newly well-to-do residents of Buzescu, Romania, a small town not far from Bucharest, have shown off their wealth by building manors so flamboyant and overtly peacockish that some literally have giant dollar and Euro signs pinned to their resplendent porticoes. Here, trading silver and other precious metals brought an unexpected infusion of cash into what was once a small farming community, and that cash was funneled into ornate metal roofs, florid iron—or stainless steel, in some cases—fences, and sprawling balconies and colonnades. As a pair of American Mormon missionaries living in Bucharest observed, on an excursion to the region, "The metal roofs are works of art. The more ornate they are, the richer the owner." And as another visitor writes on Flickr: "Through fields of vast flat nothingness you drive, with little to please the eye, until suddenly, out of nowhere, a rash of gaudy palaces, most still with the plastic on and exposed wires greets you like a smack in the mouth." View some of the truly amazing architecture, above.
· Buzescu, Romania [Linerud Mission]