Ştirbei Family Palace is 3 km away from Dărmăneşti. It was built by George Ştirbei. It functioned for a long time as a school camp. The palace was returned to its heirs, and in 2014 Mr. Itshac Nahmany took possession of it saying that the building will enter into a process of renovation-restoration and that the construction will function thenceforth as the impressive Boutique Hotel.
Ştirbei Palace was built in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century by George Ştirbei and Elizabeth Băleanu. It is located on a plateau at an altitude of 600 m, and can be reached on the left side of Uz valley, on a road that emerges from the highway and climbs Măguricea Hill. At a distance of 4 km, this beautiful palace is situated moving towards the height of deciduous and coniferous wooded hillside. The hundreds of hectares forests surrounding Dărmăneşti city, belonged to the royal family Barbu Ştirbei, in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Prince George Ştirbei (MP, who died in 1916) situated this beautiful castle in a picturesque area, perfectly integrating in this ambient area.
From the palace park you can enter into the woods and from there you can go on different routes and even on Nemira Mountain. The palace was built by Italian masters after the sketches of architect Nicolae Ghika Dudeşti.
It is a massive brick construction on four levels (basement, ground floor and two floors, partially P + 1 semicircular terrace area), with a wing (L shaped), only ground floor and first floor and two other ground floor buildings enclosed to the latter one. The main entrance is a large terrace with wide stairs. The premises of the main building are set as the official area (reception, large lounge, dining room, offices, greenhouse, and main staircase) and are much larger, with spans up to 10 metres. Still on these premises, we have access to the open terrace, a semicircular with a side of 2.40 metres. The side building, with smaller rooms, built on two levels, is the administrative area of the palace. The facades (partly plastered, partly with masonry walls) show framed windows with brick and decorative wooden balconies. The pedestal is high and made of quarry stone. The surface of the park is 125095 square metres, out of which the palace area having 2530.71 square metres, only the palace representing 1031.13 square metres. The rest of the construction represents annexes, sheds, barns, toilets, and others. On the surroundings, a particular airport also functioned. Until 1944, the palace was maintained by the Prince Ştirbei’s family.
In 1947-1977 the building functioned as a Tuberculosis Sanatorium. From 1978 it becomes the main ground for children camp. All this time, the monument has undergone numerous alterations: - damage to the structural frame in the main tower, due to seismic non-compliance; - damage to the exterior masonry, due to faulty storm water runoff; - damage to interior plastering, due to humidity, especially in the basement area, and of malfunctioning of the thermal plant; - damage to ceilings, due to plumbing deterioration; - breaking of a wooden beam over the ground floor (in the dining room), due to the inadequate subdivision on the upper floor; - full degradation of the roofing, and of the drainage system (gutters, downspouts); - degradation of plumbing, electrical and heating systems, due to over time ageing and inappropriate use.
The castle came to life almost a hundred years ago, in May 1906, when Italian masters have gathered their scaffolding, after three years of work. For forty years, up to the nationalization period, the town life in Dărmăneşti had only two milestones: the arrival at the castle, in May, of the princely family and their guests and their departure in September, with the first signs of autumn. Elisabeth, George Ştirbei’s wife, became a young widow. The prince fell during World War I, slain not by bullet, but typhus.
From that moment on, the villagers have arranged everything around Elizabeth: "Princess’ castle", "Princess’ fountain" "Princess’ servants". Castle life went on, cheered by the wives of the two sons of the mourner widow, Marina and Sanda – tell local people. One of the villagers who served for years at “the Ştirbeis” recalls that Elizabeth often helped the peasants at bay. She cared for the victims of a fire that burned down a few farms, boarding the needy in Bucharest, on her expenses.
The peaceful life of princely family was shattered by World War II. The three princesses were expropriated and expelled without having the right to take with them any of the family's assets. They subsequently succeeded to make it to France. The castle was abandoned for three years to the bad weather conditions and those who stole priceless patrimony. Crystal mirrors were shattered by unskilled hands, as well as paintings or canvases, or antique furniture. The building was transformed in 1951 into a tuberculosis hospital.
Since 1977, the castle was declared a school camp. Tens of thousands of pioneers and athletes enjoyed such beauty of the surroundings. The superb wood of the staircases still bear the marks of youngsters who wanted to encrypt their primary feelings: "Gigi + Maria # Love". In “Hall of Dolls” camp beds were installed. “Hall of Mirrors”, where the princes received their guests was turned into a dining room. The impressive fireplace on the castle ground floor escaped miraculously, as well as the library, which still keeps Prince Ştirbei’s ink pot, some bedside tables and chests of drawers, about three crystal mirrors and a shrivelled painting. Over time, 80 years old wood beams broke and the floor ceiling collapsed. The original plumbing has cracked. Infiltration crushed down the walls and moisture allowed the installation of a fungus to ate the wood and masonry.
Five years ago, Bacău Camp Administration realized that the advanced state of degradation threatens the lives of children who spend their holidays there and closed the palace. A restoration plan that started in 1994 was approved. The works, which should have lead to the restoration of the building, remain unfinished from year to year. So far, the electrical wiring, the plumbing and heating were changed. The exterior of the castle is near completion, and the roof truss through which rained, was also changed. However, the rooms have no windows and weather and temperature changes affect the interior. Because of the lack of money, the working restoration is made desultory. Any unfinished repair deteriorates before being resumed and completed. "If we had the money, a serious company could finish the repairs in less than two years," says Viorica Chemen, Dărmăneşti Camp Administrator. At the palace the oldest water culvert in the county functions. Together with historical and architectural value, the Palace in Dărmăneşti would find a well deserved place in the art history too. At Ştirbei residence the oldest water culvert in the county still functions. Made in 1908, by German engineers, the plumbing still functions and supplies with drinking water the newer and older buildings of Dărmăneşti Camp. The water comes from the mountains from a distance of about eight kilometres. Two pools cumulate water in the slopes from springs. Then, the water passes through three waste-water treatment plants located at different heights. The last pool is equipped with a natural filter of sand and stone, also made at the beginning of the century, and provides the biological purification of water. Because of the difference of levels between the point of collection and the palace of 250 metres, the water reaches the taps in the palace, with a pressure of about 4 bars, without the need for pumping. The pipes are made of Krupp steel and, for the most part, are buried in the ground, in a stoned tunnel. Over time, the pipeline required only repairs on the surface that was affected due to weather conditions. The original pipe, as well as the valves which can be seen from place to place, are testimony of the quality of German engineering. “Dărmăneşti Adduction is not a miracle, if we consider what Krupp Steel Manufacture represented then and now. The material was guaranteed to last over 80 years”, says Adrian Craioveanu, manager for Regional Water Company in Bacău. (Nicoleta BICHESCU, Claudiu POENARU)