Casino de Constanta is located on the Black Sea coast in Romania. It overlooks the ancient port in the city of Constanta, which is the oldest city in Romania, founded in 600 BC. The city is also the largest one in the region with 300,000 inhabitants, and it attracts many tourists in the summer.
The casino is located at 2 Elizaveta Boulevard. It was built in 1904 by order of King Carol I, and the official opening to the public took place in August 1910.
The casino swiftly became a symbol of the city. Theatrical performances and sports games have been held there since 1880.
Initial plans for the casino were in a constant state of flux. Architect Daniel Renard was originally appointed, but when the liberal government was voted out of power, the new conservative government appointed Petre Antonescu, who changed the design and laid a second set of foundations.
When the liberals were back in power, Renard was reappointed and had to lay a third set of foundations to continue with his original design. As such, the casino is unique in having three sets of foundations beneath it.
The press criticized Renard for the duration of the work and the final result. Nevertheless, the casino became an attractive destination for tourists and many residents. A pedestrian zone was designed around the casino, and it became very popular with couples because of its romantic atmosphere.
Rich, seaside travelers visited the Casino Constanta, gambling and dancing the night away inside the symbol of the city. You were only allowed in if you were dressed in the latest fashion.
The Russian imperial family of Nicholas II Alexandrovich visited this place in 1914. During this visit, a royal gala took place, including diplomatic negotiations. However, the Grand Duchess Olga refused to marry the Romanian Prince Carol. Later, Olga and her entire family were murdered by the Bolsheviks.
The building survived two world wars. After World War I, in 1934, the casino was renovated according to the design of Renard once again. During World War II, the building was used as a military hospital. It then became a restaurant during the post-war communist regime.
Major restoration was carried out in 1988. However, in order to maintain and restore a complex casino structure, sizeable financial investment was necessary. Because none was forthcoming, the condition of the building began to deteriorate. As a result, in 1990, the building was closed to the public and left in poor condition.
Local authorities could not find the necessary funding for the reconstruction operation. A total of three tenders were organized, and all came to nothing. The third tender was rejected in 2017.
The casino was included on Europa Nostra’s seven most endangered sites list in 2018 as a vulnerable heritage site in Europe. It is also listed as a historic monument by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity of Romania.
The abandoned casino is guarded around the clock, and gaining entry is almost impossible without valid permissions. Nevertheless, this iconic place continues to attract visitors with its nostalgia and history.
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