A true symbol of the city, the Casino in Constanța (the biggest Romanian city on the Black Sea shore), although considered a historic valuable building, was abandoned for most of its existence. As restoration works were kicked off last year (in 2020), many people in Constanța find it difficult to believe that the famous art nouveau style building is finally going to be restored, and they even seem to refuse to believe that the restoration will finally happen until the can see with their own eyes that the works are 100% completed.
This kind of skepticism is mainly the outcome of the indifference shown by the local authorities in the past period, but also by the lack of accomplishment of the promises regarding the rehabilitation of this wonderful historic building. However, not only people of Constanța, but every Romanian across the country is now looking forward to the reopening of the Casino in Constanța.
The building of the Casino will finally be restored after years of disappointment
From unknown reasons to us, Constanța City Hall significantly delayed, and remained indifferent to the restoration of this wonderful heritage building, which it had under its administration until 2007.
In 2007 it seems that the City Hall leased the building for a period of 49 years to an Israeli company which at that time was managing a group of casinos. Nevertheless, the Israeli company gave up the project a bit later, due to the economic crisis that unexpectedly followed in 2008.
Subsequently, the building was transferred under the management of the Romanian Ministry of Tourism, afterwards it was transferred again back to the City Hall of Constanța, and in 2014 back to the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism.
It all looked like a game of ping-pong. 🙂
Even though many Romanians still find it hard to believe this can be easily observed from the social network postings – the rehabilitation of the most admired and photographed building on the Romanian Black Sea shore finally began in April 2020. In an utterly bizarre way, we would say, as it actually happened in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, the design of the future restoration was completed, the authorization for the construction works was received and the works, whose value was recently re-estimated at approximately 100 mil lei (approximately 20 mil EUR), were in the end started.
The execution phase involves extensive restoration works, both inside and outside of the building. After conducting numerous studies, specialists found that the structure and especially the foundation of the building is still in a pretty good condition, as it had been consolidated only a few years before the Romanian Revolution in 1989 (it seems that the consolidation took place in 1986). Engineers at that time were extremely careful, especially due to the previous experience of the big 1977 earthquake.
Now, the deadline for the completion of the works is 2022. After the restoration, the Constanța Casino will once again become an important cultural and entertainment center. According to the plans, the building will serve the purpose of hosting symposia, exhibitions, concerts and other types of events. For this it will have two available rooms: a multifunctional one with 200 seats, respectively a hall for festivities with 150 seats.
A bit of history of the Casino’s building
The building that we see now on the seafront is not the first building erected on that place. Initially, a wooden construction was built there, which was way back in 1880. The initial building operated from 1880 until 1902. We could say that the first building’s purpose was similar to a casino’s, as it served as place of entertainment for tourists. Unfortunately it didn’t live too long, as it was destroyed by a storm in the winter of 1891.
The current version of the building was designed by the Romanian architect Daniel Renard, and was inaugurated in 1910, in the presence of the Romanian Prince Ferdinand. Architect Daniel Renard was born in Neamț County to a Romanian mother and a Swiss father, and was educated in Paris.
Even though it was the largest building in its category in the country, the art nouveau building was quite severely criticized by many chroniclers at the time of its inception, who compared it to a porch or a tomb.
Even the leaders of Constanța Casino were not completely satisfied for a long time with the original project. In 1912, Baron Edgar de Marcay, who was the administrator of the building at the time, requested the construction of a restaurant in front of the building. The same architect, Daniel Renard, was appointed to carry out the project.
In spite of that, after years, the Casino would become a true symbol of the city of Constanța. Today, it is considered to be the most beautiful building in the city by most of the people in the city.
Constanța Casino building had originally a locker room, buffet, reading room, billiard room, performance hall and two gambling halls, where you could bet on roulette, blackjack and baccarat. We don’t know if there was a welcome bonus at the entrance to the casino, but gambling could be practiced in the famous building for about 38 years.
The activity was interrupted during both world wars, being used as a field hospital. Bad luck caused the building to be affected by bombing in both 1916 and 1941 – when it hosted Nazi troops.
During the communist regime, more exactly between 1951 and 1952, the casino was restored through works done by political prisoners. The remainings left behind by the prisoners were discovered later, when letters and inscriptions were found within the walls stairs of the building.
Later, in 1956, the casino was declared part of the national heritage. However, during the Communist period it was mostly used as a “House of Culture” which sustained the development of communist propaganda, under the close supervision of the Romanian security service (Securitatea). For a good part of time after 1990 (fall of the communist regime of Ceaușescu), the building was completely closed.
It was also used as the Constanța Aquarium (as of 1958), when it was known as the richest in the number of species owned. The exhibition of the aquarium included no less than 1,300 specimens of over 100 species.
The are many buildings in Romania built in art nouveau style, especially in Oradea, but the Casino Constanța is the only building that respects this style on both the outside and the inside.
According to authorities, as of next year (2022), tourists in Romania and around the world should be able to visit and take pictures with the newly restored beautiful historical monument.