Vatra Dornei Casino

The first casino built in Romania will be rehabilitated after 30 years

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The casino in Vatra Dornei is a construction built between 1896-1898 in the town of Vatra Dornei, located on Republicii Street no. 5, between the Balenary park and the river Dorna. The building, also called the Băilor Casino or the Central Pavilion of Baths, has accomplished several functions over the years: a gambling location, a concert hall, as well as a working club.
The building returned to the patrimony of the Archdiocese of Suceava and Radauti on October 14, 2004. The Archdiocese allocated 16.5 million lei for the demolition and transformation into a museum.
“We live in a beautiful paradox, by the fact that the beneficiary of the restoration of the building-historical monument in Vatra Dornei is the Archdiocese of Suceava and Radauti, and its usefulness will be to witness future generations by transforming it into a museum and cultural center of Romanian Orthodoxy. Byzantine and post-Byzantine heritage is an important one in our country and must be preserved and valued. Any effort to save the heritage, which deserves to be capitalized on tourism “, said Bogdan Gheorghiu, Minister of Culture when the rehabilitation project was started.
The casino in Vatra Dornei is the first Romanian casino. It was officially inaugurated on July 10, 1899.

The approval for the construction of a casino in Vatra Dornei was granted following the intervention of Mayor Vasile Deac to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. During the audience, the mayor convinced the monarch of the need to build a casino for the tourists coming to the baths.
Part of the money for the construction of the casino was collected by public quest, to which Emperor Franz Joseph himself contributed, and another part was borrowed through a Viennese bank. The project was carried out by the Viennese architect Peter Paul Brang, and the works began in 1896 and ended in 1898. The casino was built in eclectic style with some German Renaissance notes. From an architectural point of view, it resembles the Baden Casino. Inside were three Murano crystal chandeliers, initially with candles, then with light bulbs.
In the casino there was a theater room, a library, a restaurant, a candy confectionery, public utilities rooms. Classified as a historical monument, the famous casino in Vatra Dornei was well known in the last century.
After December 1, 1818, the land on which the casino was located was part of the reconstruction of the Bucovina Church Fund as a war compensation Austria had to pay to Romania.
Since 1936, a number of functional changes have been made to the building. Thus, the scene from the casino’s showroom was modified, and in 1937 a terrace was set behind the casino overlooking the Balneary Park.
During the Second World War, the casino building was used by the German military for military purposes. On the morning of September 29th, 1944, during the withdrawal of the last military units from Vatra Dornei, the casino building and especially the interior spaces suffered major destruction. Since the spring of 1945, a series of repairs and renovations have been carried out.

After the establishment of the communist regime in Romania, the Casino was nationalized and turned into a working club and center of the spa resort. Party or trade union meetings were held in this building, as well as national chess championships.
In the first part of 1986, ample renovation works were carried out and remodeling of the surrounding perimeter. The revolution of December 1989 surprised the construction works in full swing. The works were not continued because of lack of funds and the repeated change of owners. After 1990 the casino building belonged to several ministries and authorities. The casino in Vatra Dornei was returned to the Archdiocese of Suceava and Rădăuți by Government Decision no. 437 of 14 October 2004, elaborated on the request of the Special Commission for the restitution of immovable property belonging to religious cults in Romania. At the time of restitution, the casino building was a ruin.

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