In March 2018, leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute listed the most threatened heritage sites in Europe for 2018: the Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi in Albania, the Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria, the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, the David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage in Georgia, the Constanta Casino in Romania, the Prinkipo Greek Orphanage on Princes’ Islands in Turkey, and the Grimsby Ice Factory in the United Kingdom. So much has been said about the status of the Constanta Casino, but who is going to give it a facelift? Business Review had a chance to see inside one of the most beautiful buildings of Romania and see its current situation.
According to an investigation conducted by Capital, the last time when Constanta’s Casino got a facelift was in the 80s. The same investigation reveals that in 2014, the beautiful building was passed from the Constanta City Hall’s administration to the National Investments Agency within the Ministry of Development. Also, it appears that several bids were submitted for its restoration, but each and every one of them was disputed. That is why, once again, the Casino is in the spotlight, due to having been nominated as part of the 7 Most Endangered programme in 2018, submitted by the ARCHÉ Association.
As Europa Nostra presents, built in 1910, the Constanta Casino has become a landmark of the Black Sea shore. Daniel Renard, the Swiss-Romanian architect who designed the building, opted for a lavish expression of Art Nouveau to reflect Romania’s modernisation during the reign of Carol I. Following many years of alternating commercial and state held responsibility for the building’s care, during the 2000s, the Casino was abandoned. It remains so to this day due to local authorities’ inability to find funding and launch a rescue and restore operation. There have been several transfers of administrative rights from the Municipality of Constanța, the last of these to the National Investments Agency within the Ministry of Development. The main danger to the building comes from the corrosion and rusting of its structural metal parts. Sea storms and winds have shattered most of the windows facing the sea. It is very likely that the roof will collapse if this process continues.
But things are about to change. “There are several institutions involved in the facelifting process of the Constanta Casino, and the restoration will start soon. What we don’t know is how long it will take to return it to its initial architectural form. But I’m confident it’s going to be stunning, no matter how long it takes. Also, I think the community – the municipality but also the tourists – should be asked and should ask what will be the purpose of the building and what the plans are after the facelift is completed. This is something that we, the municipality, can contribute: say what we want to have inside the Casino – maybe a functional theatre, maybe a restaurant, maybe an art gallery, maybe a conference space or just a museum, but we should decide because it represents our city. And what’s more, the purpose of the casino must be lined up to the times we are living in and it should have a long-term development plan,” explained Victor Maxim, the founder of Discover Constanta Association for Business Review.
But what is the current status of the building? Take a look at our photo gallery. At this moment, Constanta’s Casino can’t be visited. The building is closed for the public, with some exceptions – a few events take place inside, as a reminder for the authorities that the Casino can attract all kinds of visitors.