Pimp my Mansion – Ep. 5 – Callimachi Văcărești Villa

It’s getting harder and harder to just get your drone airborne and go shoot for things. All these idiots, roaming around airports, shooting planes, either on camera or out of the sky, will get the regulations for drones so strict that the majority of us will just look at our “aircrafts” and wipe the dust off them from time to time.

My drone is not registered and I’m not following any kind of protocol when I prepare to get it off the ground. To be sincere I don’t even know why anybody would look at my flying escapades as at something potentially dangerous. I’m usually flying under 150 meters and I’m only using the aircraft professionally: for its camera in the sky. Pushing your drone to the height limits where one could endanger some other private or commercial aircraft is pure idiocracy.

Looking for places to fly

That’s how I found out about this villa and the stories behind it. Two Saturdays ago it was a very warm and shinny winter day. No cloud on the sky. No more snow on the ground. Only the dead vegetation reminded me of the season we were in so I decided to get a wider circle around my city and check out for more abbandoned, bourgeoise places. I know there are a lot in my county as even before the communists came to power this was a wealthy part of the country with all the oil, the farming and the overall rich lands around.

A fast search on Google pointed me to the “Callimachi Văcărescu Mansion“… or Villa… or farm. It depends how you want to call it.

Now a ruin, this place of once a great beauty, was constructed during the Romanian “Belle Epoque”, end of the 19th Century. It was meant to somehow copy the King’s Mansion in Sinaia, the Peleș Castle, keeping the proportions of course and not trying to look up to the King’s huge expenses while building his Castle. This was at first the summer place for the ladies of these 2 old lineage Romanian families but then it became a pretty used residence and personal farm which brought both money to the estate (in order to support itself) but also provided the best possible alimentary goods for the members of the families and their servants.

The lost perfume of the aristocracy

Digging on Google in order to find out more about the history of the place I stumbled upon a book, some memoires of one the latest descendant of the Callimachi family to live on the premises of the place: Ana-Maria. I just ordered the book as I’m writing these lines and I am sure I’m in for a good read. Still, from what I could find out in different excerpts of her book, this was a self sufficient holiday house, producing almost everything in the daily menu of an aristocrat from those times. That meant butter, cream and all possible dairy products, all sorts of cans with vegetables, pickles, all possible marmelades and canned fruits (both native of my area but also aclimatised exotic fruits could be found here). Apart from the normal poultry they were raising turkeys as well, a delicacy for the times as the turkey wasn’t really a final concept, easily breedable around these parts. They were also storing caviar and fois gras.

The place had dozens of daily workers, mainly from the small village of Mănești but alsi speciliased agriculture engineers that were tending to the crops on the nearby fields. On the premises of the place there were thrown both musical and thematic parties but also hunting ones at which also the Royalty participated. Fancy place in the middle of fucking nowhere, for these times.

The last heir of the place before the Communists took everything over, the daughter of Ana-Maria, gave the whole property to the Crown, hoping that this way it may stand a chance to be saved. Of course, this was only one of the many places that went over to the “State pockets”, being transformed in some sort of orphanage/special preparatory school. The irony is that even though in 1974 it suffered a huge fire on the roof and then in 1977 it was hit, like all the country, by a 7. something earthquake, in 1980 was looking still in one piece, as you can see above.

The final blows and its fatality came after 1990, so within democracy. Probably totally left to rot by the administration, with absolutely no destination and no organisation and no apparent distant relatives of the families to come and take it back, the ’90s were devastating for the place. Most probably it succomed to the local wood raiders, couples looking for a dirty place to fuck, children, weather, animals.

In May 2000, today’s owner, Alexandra Callimachi-Reininger came into possession of the place. One year before, there was some attempt to try and revive and reconstruct the place but after the ownership was given, the project was abandoned due to lack of funds. I found some nice rendering on youtube of this project and what it could’ve been:

For now, the place stays like this. Fences tied up in chains and only dependencies working, most probably for the few people who administers the domain. It would be a miracle to see something good come out of this place and see something close to its glory come back to us.

In a perfect world I would see this place, reconstructed, together with the places I’ve presented before on this series and with many others more, in a chain of privately owned, thematic museums dedicated to the lost aristocracy of the country. They were all filthy rich and involved in politics but the majority of them didn’t even think twice when it came to use their wealth in order to preserve the common high level values of what our nation stood for, in those dark times. I would have in these places high level restaurants, with the high level wines of the area, throwing private parties (like weddings and such) for money. In other countries this sort of projects would be supported in a big amount by the State, looking to find good entrepreneurs in order to put wheels into motion and take advantage of the inheritage of these areas.

But not in [still] socialist Romania…

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