The former Casino from Vatra Dornei, inaugurated as a museum, under the name Palatul Dornelor

After decades of ruin, the casino in Vatra Dornei is once again an architectural gem. The current owner, the Archdiocese of Suceava and Rădăuţi, renovated it through a project with European funds and reopened it to the public as a cultural space. The reopening took place on November 28, the day on which the 105th anniversary of the Union of Bucovina with Romania is celebrated. For the most recent museum center inaugurated in Suceava County, the Church uses the phrase “Palatul Dornelor, former Casino of the Baths”, and in five years the official name of the complex will be “Palatul Dornelor”. After the religious ceremony and the speeches of the officials, the solemn meeting of the Suceava County Council took place in the recently renovated complex and in the evening there was an inaugural concert and an artistic program organized by the Bucovina Cultural Center.

The building is surrounded by historical monuments, including the headquarters of Vatra Dornei Municipality.

The former Casino in the hearth of Dornei, considered the most beautiful building in Bucovina, experienced flourishing periods, but also full of trouble. The monument was built during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph, according to the project of the Viennese architect Peter von Brand. Property of the Romanian Orthodox Church Fund of Bucovina, the building was erected between 1896 and 1898 and inaugurated on July 10, 1899.

The Archbishopric of Suceava and Rădăuţi has also sent a brief history of this emblematic building for Vatra Dornei and for Bucovina:
“Strongly affected during the two World Wars, there were two attempts at rehabilitation, in 1926 and in 1960, the interventions proving to be minimal. In 1948, the building was nationalized, becoming the property of the state, and in 1988 it was decommissioned due to its advanced state of decay.
The rehabilitation works started on April 15, 2019 and were completed on November 15, 2023.”

Old fashioned charm
The casino was built in an eclectic style with some touches of the German Renaissance.
Architecturally, it resembles the Casino in Baden. Inside were three Murano crystal polychandes, first with candles, then with bulbs.
The casino included a theater, a library, a restaurant, a confectionery, and public utility spaces.
Among those who crossed the threshold of the Vatra Dornei casino were Emperor Franz Joseph, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but also politicians, officers, historians, poets or writers, including Lucian Blaga, Nicolae Iorga, General Gheorghe Argeșanu, Nichifor Crainic, A.C. Cuza, general Ion Antonescu, Emil Bodnăraș, Eugen Jebeleanu, Mihai Beniuc, Zaharia Stancu, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Chivu Stoica.

After the Union of Bucovina with Romania, on November 28, 1918, the land on which the casino was located entered the reconstitution of the Church Fund of Bucovina, on account of the war reparations that Austria had to pay to Romania.
The Archdiocese of Suceava, as the legal administrator of the Romanian Orthodox Church Fund in Bucovina, claimed the building in January 2003, it being retroceded together with two other buildings.

The former Casino from Vatra Dornei, inaugurated as a museum, under the name Palatul Dornelor

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