If we look back at a plot of land’s history, it is possible to be surprised by all the transformations that it has gone through. You may discover that the soil was fruitful, that it held cattle, and that many different constructions were upon it. The land is still there after generations of humans have walked its paths and brought change to the region. Wars and climate change may have altered the shape of the land, but the soil is resilient and will be there long after our demise. The Sturdza Palace in Miclăușeni went from a simple plot of land to a series of inns to a ruin. Finally, the construction metamorphosized into a royal home, only to be abandoned during World War II. The palace’s rebirth happened around the year 2004 when financial aid was received to restore this once north-eastern gem of Romania. Check out the set of changes the castle went through over the years, and how you can enjoy it today.
The Romanian ruler, Alexander the Good, placed the village of Miclăușeni on the map when he gifted a plot of land to his governor, Miclăuș at the beginning of the 14th century. His heirs sold the property, and it was resold a couple more times until it reached in possession of the Sturdza family. The estate on which the palace is today belonged to Ioan Sturdza. He constructed an impressive inn with 20 rooms. The inn had the shape of a cross, and they later added horse stables on the grounds. Many generations of Sturdza heirs took care of the inn and made progressive changes to it. George Sturdza demolished the lodge and built today’s palace in its stead.
This impressive construction was finished in 1904 and has a late neo-Gothic style with baroque elements. The exterior walls contain the family’s coat of arms, an olive branch and a lion with a sword. There are small sculptures on the outer surfaces of the palace. In the interior, the walls were painted and imprinted with some of the family’s mottos, like “Utroque clarescere pluchrum,” which states that beauty shines everywhere. Indeed, beauty shone when the architects Iulius Reinecke and I. Grigsberg first displayed their creation.
Even though the palace was admired by many and considered of exceptional beauty, people ended up feeling sadness at the mention of the estate. Let’s see why that is. George Sturdza’s daughter, Ecaterina inherited the estate and married one of the Cantacuzino family bachelors. The Cantacuzinos were a very wealthy aristocratic family and left behind two architectural marvels, the Cantacuzino Castle and today’s George Enescu Museum. Ecaterina soon became a widow and managed the property by herself. The Sturdza family members were collectors of old books and rare manuscripts. Even their furniture was considered art. They also collected medieval clothing, sculpted marble busts, and oil paintings. Soon, everything they worked so hard to collect would be gone.
During World War II, Ecaterina saw that she had no choice; she had to abandon her home. She donated some of her books to the church but had to leave the rest of her collections behind. Russians took over the building and held German prisoners there. They burned the priceless book collection to keep warm, and even sold some books as wrapping paper for products. Not much was left in the palace after the end of the war. The few remaining items ended up in the houses of the villagers.
There is still much to be said about the Sturdza Palace. After the war, the building became a monastery and a children’s placement center for those with severe disabilities. Before its restoration process, which started in 2004, it couldn’t be visited and was almost like an empty shell. Today, it’s a vibrant place, waiting for visitors with open arms. The interior wood elements of the palace were fully restored, and select furniture was made to replicate that which was stolen. Only the walls remind us of the unfortunate events which lead to the building’s rebirth in the first place.
When it comes to groups, there are three packages that visitors can choose. One involves team-building exercises, the second a mini children camp, and the third a royal ball of sorts. This last package includes dressing up in costumes and having tea in the garden like former aristocrats. Reservations must be made beforehand, even if visitors only want to visit the inside of the palace. Arriving without calling first is only possible on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 6 pm. There are B&Bs around the castle, so visiting this historic building can quickly turn into a weekend trip.
The Sturdza Palace in Miclăușeni is the jewel of the village. After the palace’s rebirth, the locals have started talking about it joyfully again. There are so many stories encompassed in the mansion’s walls. Some are sad, others cheerful. Every occurrence of the past gave character to this surprising building. Come and see it for yourself.
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