Miclauseni Castle: Neo-Gothic Architecture and Troubled History
Hidden in a dense forest from Moldavia, Miclauseni Castle is a small Neo-Gothic monument with a history that goes back over one hundred years. It’s part of the legacy of one of the most important aristocratic families in eastern Romania, Sturdza, whose crest inspired by Saint George and motto ‘Utroque clarescere pluchrum’ (beauty shines everywhere) are engraved on the walls of this small castle.
The good old days
Located just some 60 km from Iasi, a major political and cultural center of the 19th century, the castle was built between 1880 and 1904 on the vast property that belonged to the Sturdza family since the late 17th century. Surrounded by an English-style park and a vast forest that still extends on tens of hectares today, Miclauseni Castle was famous back in the day for its precious art, books and religious collections.
The castle served as a residence for the members of the family until the Second World War when, during 1944, it was taken over by Russian troops. This moment marked the beginning of the castle’s most dramatic experience as the occupying army partially destroyed the residence. Still, the worst was yet to come. Just a few years later, the monument was nationalized as part of the communist regime violent confiscation of all private property. The monastery established here in 1947 on the wish of Ecaterina Sturdza Cantacuzino, who donated the entire property to the church, was evacuated. From this point on, Miclauseni Castle shared the sad destiny of most aristocratic properties: theft, degradation and indifference.
During the communist period that lasted up to the end of 1989, the monument’s preservation was completely ignored by responsible authorities who used it for one of its dreaded orphanages for disabled children. The castle’s art collections — weapons and medieval costumes, jewels, sculptures and paintings — simply disappeared. Only a thousands of books were recovered from the library of 60,000 volumes that was once one of the most important in the country. The members of the Sturdza family were passionate collectors of rare and old Romanian and European books, most in princeps editions. Sadly, the Second World War and the communist regime that followed were immune to such values. The Russian soldiers burnt many of the rare volumes from the library, some were used as wrapping paper while most were confiscated and never found again.
The last furniture and original decorations were turned to ashes in the fires from the castle’s time as an orphanage that was only relocated in 2001. The monument was partially renovated after 2004 and is open today to visitors who can also enjoy lunch or dinner in the restaurant from the park.
Miclauseni Castle is more than worth the trip from Iasi as it’s one of the few aristocratic properties from eastern Romania that survived, at least in part, the destructive strategy of the communist authorities against the former elites’ legacy.
Don’t miss a visit to the nearby Ruginoasa Palace, the place of romantic drama from the 19th century.
For visiting hours, check www.miclauseni.ro