Testimonials in stone and burnt bricks of some romantic ages, placed in a particular charm of nature’s areas, the Bacau County palaces over which unfortunately the mist of oblivion has settled for a long time and hence the ignorance, bring the traveler thirsty of beauty or novelty a lot of distinction, unexpected architecture and, in particular, traces of a past where the good taste mixes with the local traditions.
The local authorities currently try through a dialogue with the owners to open them to the tourists.
Stirbei Palace of Darmanesti — a construction unique, victim of hypocrisy and carelessness
In one of the several woods close to the town of Darmanesti, presiding at over 600 meters over the Valley of river Uz, rises as the locals say ‘The palace of the Romanian aviation princess’ Marina Stirbei — the first Romanian female who has ever flied a plane and the first female military pilot in our country.
The locals tell how the princess Marina was landing, to the surprise and joy of the ones in the area on the airfield developed on a sloping lawn right in front of the palace’s main gate, after which she shared gifts to the children who were staring to the flying machinery touching down.
Likewise, the princess remained in the memory of the locals also because she has transformed rooms of the palace into a recovery hospital for the wounded from the battles which took place in the nearby mountains during the two WWs.
The palace was erected by her parents, Gheorghe Stirbei and Elisabeta Baleanu, who wished to spend their summer holidays in that beautiful area, with the help of some Italian and German craftsmen, following the plans of architect Nicolae Ghika Dudesti.
It’s a huge stone and red brick construction, disposed on four floors (a basement, ground level and two stories, G+1 partially in the semi-circular patio’s area), with an L ward with only ground floor and a storey, as well as other two ground body buildings, attached to the latter.
The main entry is allowed through a large stairs patio. The main building’s chambers destined to the formal reception area, the grand parlour, the living-room, the studies, the greenhouse, the main staircase are up to 10-meters in opening. Here too is possible the access to the opened, semi-circular patio. The lateral body building with smaller rooms, on two stories, is the palace’s administrative area. The facades, a plaster, brick and stone masonry game, display windows with false brick frames and balconies with wooden decorative elements. The pedestal is high, made of quarry stone. The roof of the entrance tower, as well as of the two lateral elements is made of ceramic tile framing.
Concomitantly to its historical, architectural value, the Darmanesti Palace would find a well-deserved place in a history of the technique too, as at the Stirbei residence is still operating the oldest water inlet in Moldavia’s region, carried out in 1908 by German engineers.
The palace lays in the very core of a garden crossed by alleys shaded by oaks, beeches and firs, with three artesian wells.
For 40 years, after 1906, when the construction was finalized, the life of the inhabitants has had two landmarks: the arrival of the prince’s family and its guests in May and the departure with the first signs of the autumn in September.
Prince George Stirbei was killed by the typhus during the WWI. Princess Elisabeta yet remained the locals’ core of attention as they loved her dearly. After WWII, the three princesses — Elisabeta and her daughters Marina and Sanda — were expropriated from their assets and banished, without being allowed to take their family properties. They succeeded to reach France eventually.
The palace was looted and the locals remember the ”horrendous day” when a bunch of aliens led by a ”bodily strange, stunted man, with physical impairments at his feet and malice in his eyes’, has put out on the lawn where the small airplanes had landed or taken off, hundreds of books, some wrapped in leather, furniture, curtains and other goods from the house and put them all on fire ‘singing and dancing as if in pagan processions’ around the flames which ‘rose to the top of the trees’.
The mirrors’ crystal was shattered by unskilful hands, the same with the canvas paintings or the vintage furniture. Au scăpat, ca prin minune, impresionantul șemineu de la parterul castelului, rafturile bibliotecii de lemn sculptat, în care încă se mai păstrează călimara prințului Știrbei, câteva scrinuri și lăzi de zestre, trei oglinzi de cristal și un tablou scorojit.
The ruining of the building furthered on the communist authorities transformed the Stirbei residence into a pneumophthisiology hospital, and subsequently the palace became a school camp, closed before 1989.
In 1994 a restoration plan was approved and was immediately cancelled, once with the palace being claimed by the Stirbei family.
The palace was claimed after the year 2000 by the Stirbei family heirs, who have gained in court the property rights, yet subsequently sold the building and the park to a businessman.
After more than 60 years, the local authorities have initiated some ambitious projects to introduce the palace in the tourist circle of this area of a ”spectacular delight for the eyes and odour too’, as the mayor of Darmanesti, engineer Constantin Spiridon, says.
According to him, talks are currently underway with the owners to purchase the property by the town hall.
”The natural gems offered by the Nemira, Ciuc and Berzunti Mts., cut by the delightful valleys of the Uz and Trotus rivers, the natural reserves and with wild areas yet, the ancient traditions among which the Bears’ Game unique in the entire world, treasures passed on from generation to generation, next to the hospitality of the inhabitants, those who have a gourmet recipe that makes you lick your fingers, would capture, by introducing the Stirbei palace into the tourism circuit, a jewel whose karats would be a milestone and a core point of attraction for the worldwide tourists’, mayor Spiridon says.
The Cantacuzino — Pascanu Waldenburg Palace reunites romanticism and science
In Lilieci village, Hemeiusi commune, some 8 km off the Bacau municipality, in the very middle of an important Dendrology Park rests a posh building, known in the era it was erected, 1864 — 1867, under the name of ‘The Red Palace’, due to the colour of the unplastered bricks used to the walls’ construction.
The building presents a ground level, a level and a partial semi-basement, and has ‘elements’ in its structure and décor belonging to 19th century’s Western Europe”, says the Bacau-based architect Doru Anghel.
”We encounter thus a blend of Gothic, Baroque elements (tower, fronton, windows’ frames) with Oriental elements such as the side entrance with rich decorated columns and chapiters , décor elements on the façade’, the architect specified.
The palace belonged to the related by marriage families of Costache Pascanu, the treasurer of Moldavia, and Grigore Cantacuzino. Lucia Cantacuzino Pascanu, the hereditary heir of this building, married to a Schonburg — Waldenburg prince of the William the Conqueror family. The two have settled in the ‘Red Palace’ of Hemeius, where they had Cristian Adolf, a graduate of the Essen Forestry Academy from Germany as a guest. The latter has dedicated a great part of his life to transform the Hemeius estate in a unique something. Rare species of trees and shrubs were purchased and acclimatized, and the roses’ collection was deemed to be one of the most valuable in Europe.
Due to its scientific value, the state requisitioned the Hemeius estate in 1919, leaving only the palace to the Schonburg — Waldenburg — Cantacuzino family’s property, from which, after 1944, the princes have fled abroad.
The building was used by the Russian Army which has devastated it on the inside, then after the Russian troops withdrew, it was a shelter for a children orphanage, subsequently entering under the foresters’ administration.
The long of the time, the estate has suffered from degradation, especially following the 1977 and 1999 earthquakes. Since 1955, both the palace and the park became the property of the branch of the Forest Management Planning and Researches Institute (ICAS), the Hemeius Forest Researches Station, respectively.
In the year 2000, the Bacau branch of Romsilva initiated a restoration project of the palace, willing to transform it in an edifice dedicated to the culture, once with the introduction of the Dendrology Park and the former stalls in a permanent tourism circuit.
“We have commenced the restoration following the initial plans, but thinking that the indoor large spaces, completely ruined, to be dedicated to the chamber concerts, the art exhibitions, the scientific events, including the most representative permanent hunting shows with trophies harvested the long of the years by the sport hunting’s enthusiasts of the Trotus Valley area’s woods, very rich in high quality game”, says engineer Viorel Ghelase, the Romsilva Bacau manager.
Unfortunately, after 2005, the works were put off. The palace is currently under conservation, after a great deal of the outdoor finishes were completed, as the ICAS owner did not have the necessary funds. Hence, the tourists who drive on the Bacau — Piatra Neamt road still dream of the promises of pony rides on the alleys of the Dendrology Park which, on rd 50 hectares has, besides a valuable collection of trees and shrubs specific to the area, over 1,300 species of exotic plants from various regions of the world and the largest collection of roses of Romania in terms of variety.
The Ghika Palace of Comanesti
Bold people, endowed with the gift of the research or revolutionary spirit, defenders of the culture and economic progress, the Ghika family members have scored, through Prince Dimitrie, the area of the Comanesti town too. Being at the head of this town, architect Albert Galleron, the one who has subsequently conceived the plans of both the Romanian Athenaeum and the National Bank of Romania’s building, envisaged and completed in 1890 the Palace of Comanesti.
The building is placed in a beautiful public garden, and the edifice consists of two stories, made of bricks and stone, in the style of the Eclecticism of those days which dominated the end of 19th century’s spirit of Western Europe.
The façade owns a tower on its north side where initially stood the family’s coat of arms and a clock ruined unfortunately after the year 1946. To the West there lays the second façade of the building endowed with a balcony which offers a pleasant view of the mountains and of the Trotus Valley. The ground floor opens with an impressive hallway where a ceramic fireplace is still preserved, and on the wall two wooden moose heads are mounted, hunting trophies brought by Nicolae D. Ghika, and a huge Venice mirror too.
From this hallway is the entrance to a large room, with the ceiling standing on columns. The bright windows open the view to the mountains also offering an astounding view of the park. The room’s ceiling is garnished with moldings finished with floral ornaments. In this room an original tiled stove of the palace and a library still exist where, in the inter-war period, cultural activities were organized supported by Princess Ioana Ghika next to the young local women.
The access to the floor is guaranteed by a wooden staircase, a nice piece of work which due to the large mirror offers the ensemble a feeling of grandeur. The windows lighting the wooden stairs have had stained glass which was partially destroyed after 1960.
Guarded by two massive columns which support the floor’s loggia, the entrance in the palace is made on stone stairs with stone-paved terraces too.
Urged by biologist Grigore Antipa, Dimitrie Ghika and his son Nicolae have covered several expeditions to Africa and North America from where they brought cca 60 species of unknown plants until those times, which they acclimatized in the garden around the building or preserved them by putting them next to the hunting trophies captured during some hunting in the area or in the exotic countries’ expeditions, in an ad-hoc museum organized in the very core of their residence of Comanesti.
The end of the WWII also meant the end of the palace’s glow. According to the locals, the owners have loaded a train from the local station, which used to borrow from the palace’s architecture and was connected through a secret tunnel, the valuable objects they had. But the train has never reached its destination, and very valuable objects have vanished.
During the communism years, the palace received several destinations, among which receiving centre for the war orphan minors, a vocational school, a general school, a headquarters of the Pioneer’s House. Just in 1979 restoration and development works began, and from 1989 it operates as a Museum of Ethnography and Arts under the name of ”Dimitrie N. Ghika”.
Declared a historical monument, the Ghika Palace of Comanesti was the object of a trial between the authorities and the heirs of the family who were settled abroad and claimed the estate.
The Ghika Palace of Dofteana — awaiting for the sunset charm
The Ghika Palace of Dofteana commune was erected in an area of a particular picturesque at the end of the 19th century by Nicolae Ghika, the governor of the National Bank of Romania, a member of the boyar family who gave 10 rulers to the the country.
Placed on the Trotus Valley, the grandiose building has been designed in the Romantic style from the 19th to 20th centuries’ border.
The construction was thought by an Italian architect, and materials from abroad were used, as a four-storey castle, semi-basement, ground floor, a floor and a French roof, and two asymmetrical towers. The one from the right of the main façade has a winding staircase leading from the semi-basement to an outdoor patio disposed on the top of the construction. On the facades, balconies and terraces are placed opening themselves to the near mountains and to the lake from the Dendrology Park, a collection of over 660 species of trees stretching on 24 hectares.
The wooden panels, the monolith fireplace and a U-shape interior staircase are the few décor elements in the palace, except from the spectacular appearance.
The edifice has had a troubled history after its owners had to flee the country at the end of WWII. Between 1941-1944, the Wehrmacht — German Army Command — was set here. On retreat, the German troops took with them the most valuable art objects from the castle. Then came the Russians and took what was left and valuable too, after which in 1949 the entire estate was nationalized and became a state property. Then the palace became a TB hospital, a children house and a child rheumatology sanatorium, subsequently.
Devastated by the people and fire, the sumptuous building of marble and red brick stayed, as appearance, still in front of its unhappy destiny, unveiling even today to the passer-by an enchanting view to whom the troubled past has not altered its charm. At the Ghika palace of Dofteana the movie ”Domnisoara Christina” was shot, probably the first Romanian ”horror”, after a book by Mircea Eliade.
The Dofteana palace is currently the property of a local businessman, who has bought it from the town hall, because no heir of the former owners claimed it. Five years ago he started restoration works. Unfortunately a terrible fire destroyed the building and daunted the owner.
”These are our historical monuments … so full of material value and historical sense, with their surroundings devastated, with their contents deserted, with the centuries’ skate on each and every one, so different and genuine as regards their types. Where will you see them, to recognise them, to respect and rise them, if you’ve got the power, from their ruin and forsaking”, historian Nicolae Iorga wrote around year 1935.
The words of the scholar regarding the attention we should give the national heritage are currently valid too, urging the officials and owners to draft the salvation of such buildings from the dust of oblivion and ruin.AGERPRES