The Palace of Ruginoasa: Intrigue and Betrayal
The Palace of Ruginoasa is one of the most impressive monuments from eastern Romania. With its Neo-Gothic look appearing mysteriously in the clearing of a large park, Ruginoasa has such a tormented history that just one visit is not enough to imagine all the drama once hidden behind its walls.
The history of the palace of Ruginoasa begins in 1804 when one of the descendants of the old Sturdza family hired foreign architects to build a luxurious residence on the large family property, followed a couple of years later by a family church in the nearby of the palace. A few decades later, the place was renovated by another member of the family, Costache Sturdza. He locked his beautiful wife at Ruginoasa to keep her away from her mistress, a well-known boyard of the time who, nonetheless, managed to kidnap her after killing the son of Costache Sturdza. The owner soon abandoned the house after this dramatic event.
In 1862, the house was bought by Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the first prince of the united Romanian countries. He renovated and used it as a summer residence although he rarely came here. It’s his wife, Elena Cuza, who spent most of her time here, decorating the palace following the latest European trends.
Two years later, thousands of peasants came to the palace to thank the prince for implementing the agrarian reform that gave them property right over the land they worked. Not so popular at a political level, Cuza was forced to abdicate after a supposed complicity of his mistress, the mother of his two sons. He died in Germany, but he was buried at Ruginoasa. Both his sons died young, and the palace was ultimately inherited by Maria Moruzzi, the descendant of the man who killed the ancestor of her father in law. She brought more drama to the story of the palace as she married and divorced here, in the same day, one of the future political leaders of modern Romania.
At her death, in 1921, the palace was transformed into a hospital, but during the Second World War, the palace faced serious destructions, and its renovation started only decades later.
From the early 80’s, the Palace of Ruginoasa hosts the Museum Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Its restoration followed the original plans, and each of its rooms is decorated with the original furniture or exact replicas, the only modern touch being the speaking hologram of the prince. Located close to Iasi, the most important city in eastern Romania, a visit to the Palace of Ruginoasa is an excellent way to uncover the history of this part of the country.