Sturdza Castle (Castelul Sturdza)

Sturdza Castle has been erected by Gheorghe Sturdza and his wife Maria during 1880 and 1904 in Miclauseni. The neo-gothic castle is at present a part of the historical monuments which are under the patrimony of the Moldova and Bukovina Metropolitan Church. The ensemble  which comprises this castle also contains two other monuments: the Church of the Annunciation which dates from the 18th century (1787) and the parc which dates from the 19th century.

The castle was built in the place of an old mansion which dated from the middle of the 18th century. The beautiful neo-gothic construction took inspiration from the architectural design of the eastern feudal castles, as well as from the Palace of Culture located in Iasi – the most important city located in the northeastern part of Romania. The architects behind the castle were Iulius Reinecke și I. Grigsberg.

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One of the walls of the castle comprises an inscription which in a few words depicts the historical evolution of the palace. The short description informes the reader about the origins of the castle, its founder, as well as about the other modifications and improvements whcih have been brought to the palace in the years to come.

During the time of Gheorghe Sturdza, the castle sheltered an immense collection of valuable items. These referred to books and documents of relevant significance, medieval costumes, items of weaponry, jewelry, paintings, busts sculptured out of Cararra marble, silverware, as well as archeological, epigraphic and numismatic pieces. Just to make an image of the value  of the literary works encountered here, you should know that the library comprised 60.000 books, many of them being rare books and first editions.

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In the First World War, the castle housed a military hospital, while during WWII it was used for incarceration purposes, many German prisoners having been stationed here during this period.

Unfortunately, the castle was badly devastated during the war and one of the most relevant damages inflicted by the Russians was when they took the books from the library and used some of them as fuel while selling others to several stores where these were used for packaging purposes. None truly understood the value of the grand library and thus ruined what could have been an important legacy to the Romanian people.

Along with the books, gone were the exquisite pieces of furniture and the personal collections of the Strudza family.

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Ecaterina Cantacuzino, the daughter of Sturdza, had remained a widow in the later part of her life, and due to the fact that she had no children, she decided to become a nun and donate the castle with all its adjacient edifices to the metropolitan church with the promise that the ensemble will be properly arranged as a nunnery.

But in the second half of the 20th century, the communists closed the monastic abode and transferred the complex to the state.

The scope of the castle had shifted greatly, being transformed into a military warehouse for explosives and later on into a center for mentally disabled children. By this time only a small number of original furniture items remained, but these had subsequently perished due to a fire that turned the entire attic (where the furniture was stored) into ash. The water used to annihilate the flames infiltrated into the walls and this contributed extensively to the slow but sure deprecation of the construction.

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It was not until 2001 that the castle was given back to the metropolitan church. But it took another 2 years until any type of reconstruction work was initiated. The government intervened in 2003 when it gave an ordinance according to which the castle was to be subjected to a refurbishing project.

The reconstruction was meant to convey the castle with its original look. Some parts of the construction were severely damaged and the contractor turned to old photographs in order to recapture the decorative elements which were no longer distinguishable on the facade.

While the neo-gothic architectural design predominates, there are also Baroque elements noticeable. In terms of structure, the castle consists of a downstairs, uperfloor and garret.

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The facade of the edifice is definitely impressive. The decorations include sculptural elements in alto-relievo, some being the blazons of the Sturdza family. Among these coats of arms, one can find the representation of a lion with a sword and an olive branch. There are other symbolic depictions as well, the majority of them created in the Art Nouveau architectral style. The castle comprises several gothic towers, medieval armors, and Latin inscriptions on the walls.

The Sturdza Castle is a valuable piece of architecture as the elements which adorn the palace are representative for specific styles, mainly for the neo-gothic and baroque styles. Besides the architectural importance, the castle is also representative for the Romanian culture due to the historical importance it carries, having been linked to several events that have marked the history of the country.