Ruginoasa Palace is one of the most impressive monuments from eastern Romania. It has such a tormented history that one visit is not enough to imagine all the drama that once happened 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 monument was renovated by another member of the family, Costache Sturdza, whose complicated marriage marked the history of the place. He locked his beautiful wife here to keep her away from her lover, a well-known aristocrat of the time who, nonetheless, managed to kidnap her after killing the son of Costache Sturdza. The owner abandoned the house after this dramatic outcome.
In 1862, the residence was bought by Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the first prince of the United Romanian Principalities. He renovated and used it as a summer residence although he rarely came here. It was his wife, Elena Cuza, who spent most of her time here, decorating the palace following the latest European trends, while taking care of her husband’s two illegitimate sons.
Two years later, thousands of peasants came to the palace to thank the prince for implementing the agrarian reform that gave them ownership rights over the land they worked. Not so popular at a political level, Cuza was forced to abdicate in 1866. He died in Germany, but he was buried at Ruginoasa.
To add even more drama to the history of the palace, both his sons died young. The property from Ruginoasa was ultimately inherited by Maria Moruzzi, the descendant of the man who killed the ancestor of her father in law. To complicate the story even more, while pregnant, she married and divorced here, on 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, it faced serious destructions, and its renovation started only decades later.
From the early 80s, Ruginoasa Palace hosts the Museum Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Its restoration followed the original plans, and each of its rooms is now decorated with the original furniture or exact replicas, the only modern touch being the speaking hologram of the prince.
The small palace is one of the most popular attractions around Iasi, the former capital of the historical province of Moldavia. A visit here is an excellent way to uncover the history of this part of the country, less traveled than the rest of Romania.
Don’t miss the nearby Miclauseni Castle that also belonged to the Sturdza family.
For visiting hours, check www.palatulculturii.ro