The shameful one…

I almost got hit by a car trying to pass over the road between the small cities of Pașcani and Târgu Frumos. Those are two small settlements, somewhere in the Romanian Moldavia area, two small dots on the map that nobody from the aeroplane would even notice.

Somehow this road is quite crowded at certain hours, a scene that you can see pretty much everywhere in Romania, as people tend to migrate in the morning and evening, going back and forth on their way to work in the bigger cities. The tragic thing is that doing this commute on a two lane road most probably doubles your chances of dying or getting seriously injured in the process.


There it was. A small chateau (or what is left from it) that I’ve been passing by 3-4 years now, everytime my work was bringing me around these parts. I usually spend my nights in Iași city, a place I have been talking about here here and [here](
) while in the morning I proceed to the meeting I schedule always with a client in Pașcani. I’ve been dying to get inside the premises as this place holds a spicy history, seeded with tales of great national achievements and sexual escapades as well.


Ruginoasa or “The rusty one”

That’s the name of the village this chateau is placed in, which also gives the name of the place: “The estate of Ruginoasa”. The place was built in the middle of the 19th century and as it was pretty badly damaged during WWII (as it was on the battle front lines) the architecture we now see is not the original one, though they tried to recreate it as closely as possible. It still lacks some important elements from what we know it looked like back in its glorious times. This small chateau is part of the story that helped shape modern Romania and it all started when the estate was bought through auction, by Ioan Alexandru Cuza, a good looking gentleman from Moldavia.


As the former owner, Costache Sturdza, a guy coming from a very rich and traditional Romanian family loaned some money and had financial issues, the estate was confiscated and later sold. At the time of buying, the new owner, Cuza, was on the top of his career as he was the elected ruler (as much as “elected” meant something back then) in both of the Romanian provinces, Moldavia and Țara Românească. He united almost the entire country by running for the ruler in both of them leaving all the European Powers (who all had interests here) jaw dropped. So he had money…
His wife, Elena Cuza, was coming from a wealthy family as well and she was filthy rich. Some historians say that really SHE was the richest in the family and her money bought all sorts of things. Including the decorations in some parts of the chateau (which unfortunately was closed on the inside by the time I reached it) which were brought from Paris. All sorts of tapestry and furniture, part of it very high-class Ludovic XVth furniture level. Some of it is still here (don’t know exactly how it survived the bombings and the ruin).


Cuza was the kind of guy who liked life and this was part of the profile which pushed him on the orbit. The Free Masons lodges that activated in both of the provinces propelled him and helped him win the elections as all of them were businessmen and were seeing great prospects in the scenario where the country was united. They needed a handsome man, coming from the people’s roots which were able to govern with an iron fist and pass some revolutionary laws, for the time… for the place.


… or “the shamefull one”.

The name of the place started changing since the guy here. He loved to party and he loved women. This place (and we should mention he bought it a “countryside” residence) offered everything he needed in order to satisfy his lust. Hidden from the eyes of the curious people, in the middle of nowhere (even now it is pretty remote), with the high trees and the high stone fence, Ruginoasa became for a period of time the “residence of decadence”.


Cuza was taken down from the throne by a coalition which forced him to empower his own agreement when he has taken the throne: to leave it for a foreign king after 7 years. And so he did…

So the money stopped, the fame stopped, the interest stopped. Cuza went into exile and soon after died. Probably broken hearted as the parties couldn’t go on anyway. His earthly remains were brought to Ruginoasa, being buried near the estate, on the right of the church of the domain.


His bones are not here anymore, in this cript close to the church but they were moved to a famous church in Iași. Now, the small church neighbouring the estate is only presenting the former grave while the toilet in the back of the yard is looking at it as a clear message that Romania is still in that feudal age.

The estate, after his death, had a very tragic destiny and it slowly moved from the hands of Cuza’s wife to a totally different family.

One of his sons committed suicide by hanging himself in the estate, after his mother wouldn’t approve of his relationship with a servant. The older son died of a cruel disease and as Murphy’s laws are very much in place everywhere in the world, his surviving wife had an adventure with the son of the guy who plotted to bring Cuza down from power: Ionel Brătianu, the son of Ion Brătianu. So ironically, the son of the plotter, survived the plotted and his children, enjoying the estate and the domain as if it were his.


Now the estate is only a museum. There is no inheritance and maybe only the raven that roams all over the garden, having their nests high up in the old trees, may have some real memory of the times this place was full of life and joy as it represented Romania’s first unification (even if only partial) and also hosted the last “Romanian King”. After Cuza, the dynasty of Hohenzollern took the throne and in the span of 4 kings’ lives we had gained the Independence and made the Big Unification.

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