Funny how some places draw you closer and closer as time goes by, starting with the first time you laid your eyes on them.
I remember when I first saw this castle. I think it was around 2007 or maximum 2008. I was going to Budapest and then to Viena; back then this was the main road for me to escape the country. The alternative would’ve taken about 8 hours only to get to the borders and maybe another 2 to get through it as that was the main crossing point. Going through Cluj though, and then Oradea, saved you at least one hour on the road and maybe one and a half on the crossing.
Traveling together with two of my friends, I was really happy and excited about buying my first DSLR camera so, exactly like now, I was hunting for shots all around me. So it wasn’t hard for me to spot the castle when I entered the village of Gheghie, coming from Cluj. The white walls of the castle were creating a very clear contrast on the black of the autumn forest. I remember I stopped the car and I managed to get some good shots with my 70-300mm TAMRON I had at the time. Manual focus. We die like real men. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my old photos though I’m sure I kept them on some old HDD somewhere. I even checked my old hi5 account to see if they are there but it seems this specific photo I didn’t upload. Who would’ve thought 10 years ago that I would need that photo for an article?
Ever since, whenever I passed by the castle I used to check it out and admire its beauty. The whole architecture of the place, with its green and lush park in front, must have been a sight for sore eyes back when it was a jewel. Now, the park that was in front of the castle grew so thick and lush that you can’t even see the building during the summer, from the main street. You would literally pass it by and not notice even one piece of the beautiful architecture that it possesses.
The castle was built in 1860 and was the investment of a bishop. The Vezsprem bishop, a city in Hungary. Back then, the area in which the castle resides was a part of the Austro Hungarian Empire. He only got to use the beauty for 19 years because in 1879 he dies and only later, in 1904, his grandson transforms the castle in a hunting residence. After the first world war, the grandson starts having money issues and he has to sell the place. So he sold it to a big entrepreneur of the time, native in my county, Prahova. The guy was Gheorghe Mateescu and he was the best thing that happened to the castle. Mateescu was the kind of guy the elders in the village still remember.
The ones that are still alive, tell stories about them being kids and receiving candies, money, clothes and books from the owner of the castle. He didn’t stay there all the time as he was involved in daily business in oil (that’s what we do in Prahova county – oil) but every time he came he was throwing parties in each of the 9 saloons of the castle. Everything was alive when he came to the village and the villagers were all involved some way or another in the life of the castle. Life was beautiful. Even when Gheorghe Mateescu lost his son to leukaemia, he was still staying close to the people in the village and even though he would not throw so many parties, he would donate a lot, especially to the children of the village (the elders still alive). Even the school of the village is donated by him.
Things went totally bollocks at the end of the second world war. The other son of Mateescu came home safe from the front but totally lost his mind over there. Mateescu died in 1952 and the castle was nationalised by the communists. Short after they transformed it into what they usually were transforming the majority of this kind of places: a tuberculosis sanatory. They had this fetish of poisoning the place with this disease. This functioned nice and dandy until 2006 when a son of the second wife of Mateescu claimed the place from the authorities.
While in the process of giving it back, some other relatives of Mateescu, the ones coming from the son that went nuts on the front, came and said that they are entitled to the place so everything stopped at that point.
It seems it is still on a hold as vegetation is taking over and the only soul that roams the place is a cow that you can spot in one of the photos.