Recent refurbishment projects breathing new life into historical architecture across Romania

A public bathhouse, a bank headquarters turned into a hotel, and a palace set to become a cultural center are among the historical landmarks that have recently been refurbished in the country, following either public or private initiatives. We outline below some of the transformations.

Sibiu Public Bath

This 120-year-old architectural gem, hidden in an interior yard close to Sibiu’s Astra Park, has been refurbished in a project that kept the edifice open to all city residents. The Sibiu Public Bath (Baia Populară Sibiu), inaugurated in 1904, was designed by Munich Technical University architecture professor Karl Hocheder (1854-1917). Its architecture combines Baroque shapes with late 19th – early 20th century Jugendstil elements. It has been described as an almost faithful copy of the Müller Bath in Munich, as it is the work of the same architect. It offers visitors a pool, dry, wet and steam saunas, and various spa therapies. A gym is also available on site, and a social area is available at the underground level.

The Marmorosch Bucharest 

The historical monument building of the former Marmorosch-Blank bank in Bucharest’s Old Town, next to the palace of the National Bank of Romania (BNR), began a new chapter in its story last summer when it opened as the upscale Marmorosch Bucharest hotel after a refurbishment of more than three years and an investment of EUR 42 million. Operated by the Lithuanian group Apex Alliance Hotel Management, it is the first hotel in the country under the Autograph Collection brand of the Marriott portfolio.

The restoration works were aimed at bringing back the interwar design of La Belle Époque. The Art Deco and Art Nouveau architectural heritage of the building covers architectural and artworks, restored murals, specific furniture for the bank’s activity and many other bank references.

“The meticulous restoration has honored the building’s storied past, and we have worked to reawaken its rich architectural Art Deco and Art Nouveau heritage. This elegant hotel situated at a fantastic address in the city will appeal to both the corporate and leisure segment of guests who seek new experiences in the city,” Gerhard Erasmus, CEO of Apex Alliance Hotel Management, said at the time of the opening.

Photo: Mihai Georgiadi, courtesy of Marmorosch

Braunstein Palace in Iaşi

In downtown Iaşi, in northeastern Romania, a palace built at the start of the 20th century has gotten a facelift and is to host several cultural centers and exhibition venues. The Braunstein Palace, built on the site of several properties owned by entrepreneur Adolf Braunstein, served in time as a hotel, bank, and party HQ. During the communist period, it was nationalized and hosted a store.

After a refurbishment project amounting to RON 22.8 million (approximately EUR 4.63 million), financed through the European Regional Development Fund, the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Program, it is to host the French, German, and Italian cultural centers, according to plans of the Iaşi City Hall.

The ground level of the palace can host an art gallery, while the underground offers various leisure time areas and annexes. The cultural centers are to be hosted on the first and second levels, while temporary exhibitions can also be set up in the hallway, according to Agerpres.

Teleki Castle in Posmuş

The Teleki Castle in Posmuş in Bistriţa-Năsăud county, has seen four years of rehabilitation works under an EU-funded project and is now open to visitors. The castle, administered by the Bistriţa-Năsăud Museum Complex, reopened with a weekend festival that combined contemporary arts, theater, film, music, and many other activities geared toward getting the community involved in protecting and reviving the cultural life around it. The refurbishment of the Baroque-style castle, dating to the 18th century, was done under a project amounting to RON 22 million (EUR 4.4 million).

The House of Religious Freedom in Cluj-Napoca

One of the oldest and most significant 15th-century townhouses in Cluj-Napoca, the House of Religious Freedom was this year among the winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards in the Conservation and Adaptive Reuse category.

In 2018, after a decade-long restoration process undertaken by the Hungarian Unitarian Church, it reopened as a “cultural center dedicated to the ideals of religious freedom and tolerance.” It houses permanent exhibitions, a center for conferences and interconfessional research, guest rooms, a bookshop and a restaurant serving traditional dishes of different Transylvanian ethnic groups. Funding for the project was made available by the Government of Romania and the Government of Hungary.

The restoration addressed the issue of the structural damages, while remarkable architectural features from the 15th -19th centuries were discovered and restored. Among them is the 15th-century staircase with recessed stone handrails and Gothic archways, according to a presentation of the project.

Nopcsa Castle in Săcel

Nopcsa Castle, named after the Transylvanian noble family Nopcsa, has been undergoing revamping since 2019. The historical monument, located in Săcel, in Hunedoara country, was erected at the end of the 18th century.

The local authorities plan to open the castle to visitors starting next spring, Costel Avram, the public administrator of the county of Hunedoara, said, quoted by Adevarul. “During winter, it will be heated to prevent damage. At the same time, we plan to set up a rose garden on a nearby plot. After consulting the builders, we will decide what happens with the old building remaining in the monument’s yard.”

The castle was the residence of Franz Nopcsa (1877–1933), a paleontologist who researched the dinosaur fossils in the Ţara Haţegului.

Constanța Casino

After landing on Europa Noastra’s list of seven most endangered sites in Europe in 2018, the Constanța Casino, an iconic place in the seaside city, has entered a process of consolidation and refurbishment. While it is not completed yet, the revamped façade was unveiled this summer. The north-facing exterior wall of the edifice has been completely renovated, the protective panels were taken down, and the building was partially exposed to those wanting to see it.

The Ministry of Development committed RON 90 mln (EUR 18.4 mln) to the renovation of the casino, done while maintaining the building’s original Art Nouveau style.

The building was erected at beginning of the 20th century and opened its doors in 1910. Daniel Renard, the Swiss Romanian architect who designed the building, chose the Art Nouveau style to reflect Romania’s modernization during the reign of Carol I.

(Opening photo: Constața Casino from Ministerul Dezvoltării, Lucrărilor Publice şi Administraţiei Facebook Page)

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