Miclăușeni - Sturdza Contribute to this monument

HML CODE
IS-II-m-B-04199
COUNTY
IASI
ADDRESS
sat MICLĂUŞENI; comuna BUTEA
SETTLEMENT
Miclăușeni

FAMILIES
ARCHITECT
CRAFTSMEN
CURRENT USE
cultural centre / convent
ACCESSIBLE
CONTACT
TEAM
2013: Raluca Bărbulescu, Florentina Matache, Carmen Vasile
Around the year 1410, the Miclăușeni domain situated nearby the Siret river was given by the leader of Moldavia to Miclăuș a high ranking dignitary of the period. The name of the lord was therefore transferred to the domain. In 1591, the descendants of Miclăuș sold the domain to Simion Stroici together with the nearby village.
 
Simion Stroici was the first builder to erect a manor on the domain in the beginning of the 17th century. Its ruins could still be visible during the first decades of the 20th century. Back in the 17th century, Stroici having no heirs, left the domain to the family Prăjescu, to whom he was related. One generation later, the domain passed into the possession of the Sturdza Ioan and Sandu brothers. Shortly after inheriting the domain and the fortune, in 1699, the Sturdza brothers split it. The Miclăușeni domain was given to Ioan Sturdza together with the village where peasants and slaves worked the lands of the domain.
 
In 1752, Ioan Sturdza rebuilt the manor, having a cross shape plan and two levels. He also added stables and other annex buildings. Preoccupied with the development of the domain, between 1821-1823, his son, Dimitrie Sturdza, built a church in the village near the manor that served both the community and the family. He endowed the church with precious religious items. 
 
Alecu Sturdza Miclăușanu, the son of Dimitrie, designed a surface of 42ha around the manor in a historical Victorian style english park. For this task ornamental, exotic species of trees and plants were brought to the domain. He also contributed to the extension of the large private library of the family housed on the domain. Even though Alecu was a close relative to the ruling Moldavian leader Mihail Sturdza, he supported the ideals of the 1848 Revolution, this in turn is suspected to have brought about his untimely death. He is buried together with other members of the family in the cemetery near the church on the domain. After his death, his wife Ecaterina took over the management of the domain.
 
George A. Sturdza, inherited the Miclăușeni domain in 1863. Six years later he married Maria, the daughter of writer Ion Ghica and moved in on the domain. George was the one that rebuilt the manor in its current castle like, neogothic style. For this audacious and costly endeavor he contracted a loan from the Romanian Land Credit and sold off parts of the forests on the domain.
 
Between 1880-1904, the new neogothic-style-castle-like residence was erected on the foundations of the old manor  by architects Iulius Reinecke and I. Grigsberg. The exterior is similar to the Royal Palace of Ruginoasa and the Palace of Culture in Iași and features spectacular sculptures of the family’s coat of arms and allegorical characters. Some of them are said to have been designed by Maria Sturdza, and excellent paintress. The interiors feature sculptured wood, high ceilings and richly painted walls and ceilings. Vegetal motifs with latin quotes wrap around the hallways and chambers. The domain also had an extensive library which was gradually enlarged and enriched by each generation of the family and also numismatic, archaeological, epigraphic and art collections.
 
Ecaterina, the only child and heir of George and Maria Sturdza, married  Șerban Cantacuzino in 1897. She became a young widow and never remarried, thus having no heirs. Later in her life, she adopted her cousin  Matei Ghica Cantacuzino but he didn’t seem to be interested in the domain and left the country during the Second World War.
 
In 1907, during the peasants’ uprising the Sturdza family was forced to give off parts of the land to the local peasants. A similar situation was encountered during the interwar period and the Agrarian Reform of 1921. 
 
During the Great War the castle was used as a hospital for the soldiers. Maria and her daughter Ecaterina worked as infirmaries. During this time George Enescu came to play his violin to the wounded on the domain.
 
During the following war, in 1944, when the front line was approaching the Miclăușeni domain, Ecaterina Cantacuzino fled taking with her the precious religious objects of the village church and sending parts of the extensive library to the Roman Episcopy. During the winter of 1944, the soviet army was camped at the castle, together with german prisoners. The castle was devastated by the soviet troops, which used rare books from the library as fuel to warm up. Parts of the library were saved, loaded in a truck, donated or sold off to ARLUS and the Universitary Library of Iași, another part was sold off and left the country. 
 
In the last years of her life Ecaterina Cantacuzino took up the monachal life and became sister Macrina. She decided to donate the entire domain to the Roman Episcopy to found convent. In 1947 her donation was put into effect, so the domain was not nationalised as other similar nobiliary residences of the area. However in 1953, the communist regime dissolved the monastery and the nouns were moved to Schitu Cozancea. In 1970, the remains of Ecaterina were interred in the cemetery near the village church in Miclăușeni.
 
During the communist period, after the monastery left the domain, the castle was misused as a military explosives deposit, then from 1960 it became the headquarters of the Placement Center for mentally disabled children, a special school for them functioning in the building. In 1968 a fire destroyed the attic and the original furniture pieces stored there. The water used to extinguish the fire damaged the painted walls and decorated ceilings. Another fire in 1985 further contributed to the destruction.
 
After 1989, the domain was reclaimed by the Mitropoly of Moldavia and Bucovina and in 2001 its legal rights on the domain were reinstated and the Placement Center was moved to Cozmești village nearby. In 2003, director Sergiu Nicolaescu shot several scenes of the movie "Orient Express" in the castle. At the same time, funding was granted by government decision for repair works and landscape design. During the following year additional funding from the World Bank was obtained by the owner.
 
The restoration and repair works were carried out between 2003-2005, but the funding was not enough for all the works needed to be done on site. The current owner wants to transform the domain: the castle shall be turned into a museum and multifunctional events complex, while other annex buildings into a daycare center for elderly people and a religious guesthouse. The monastery, having returned to its original grounds after 1989, currently manages and maintains the castle and domain.
 
arch. Raluca Zaharia