By far the most beautiful and imposing Art Nouveau building in Romania, the Constanta Casino has been criticized in its day for being “too ornate and flamboyant”.
The Casino was finished in 1910 by a French architect, on the spot of an older events hall, a small, wooden structure. During WWI it was used as a hospital and sustained some damage from German bombers targeting the nearby port.
It was last renovated in 1986 and in 1992 some minor repairs were done to the roof after a storm. Since then, a slow process of decay has started and in 2004 it was closed.
Until the fall of 2019 it was neglected. Rain water was infiltrating through the roof and walls in some areas and the plaster had been completely washed away from some walls, leaving them exposed to mold, moss and even a couple of ferns. It was full of pigeons that were nesting on the highly ornate chandeliers.
The hallway is dominated by the monumental stairway leading to the second floor and the intricate window that bathes it in sunlight. On the first floor there was a cafe, an ice cream shop and a restaurant that opened into the terrace that overlooks the sea. On the second floor there were several gambling rooms and the ballroom with its massive chandelier and red velvet drape that are still standing.
The window of the ballroom, laced with wrought iron, represents a seashell, part of the marine theme found throughout the entire building. On the opposite wall there was an painting identical in shape and size, ornate with the painting of a ship, the faces of Tragedy and Comedy (representing dramatic art) and the 12 signs of the zodiac. Recent renovation work has uncovered an identical window with the metal structure still intact inside the wall, which was covered up at some point in the 30s when the terrace facing the sea was turned into a game room.
The Casino is now under renovation that is planned to last until 2022 the earliest. Hopefully, it will be restored to its former glory.