Completely by chance just the other day, I fell upon the superb site of the moNUmenteUITATE project and can't imagine how I'd missed it. Of course, I had to find out more.

The moNUmenteUITATE team was very prompt in replying with the following text and photographs explaining their project and future events - thank you very much! Please click on the links and check out moNUmenteUITATE for yourself. It is terribly sad to witness such neglect, but the team tells me that in a couple of years, the general image won't be this tragic. "Times are changing for these castles," Irina tells me. "I can feel it." Let's hope she is right.

irina castle_in_mediesul_aurit,_satu_mare_county(Photo: Castle in Medieșul Aurit - Satu Mare)

'The moNUmenteUITATE project (NU UITATE= unforgotten) started in 2008 within the Faculty of Architecture of the ’Ion Mincu’ University of Architecture and Urbanism, in Bucharest, Romania. Its aim was to create an archive of images and information about the stately homes in Transylvania, Banat, Crișana și Maramureș.

More than 300 student volunteers contributed to the creation of this archive. After having identified these buildings and ensembles in the List of Historical Monuments, the students travelled the country in search of them. More than 350 such monuments were photographed and mapped in 4 campaigns, during 2008 and 2011.

irina castle_in_ocna_mures,_mures_county(Photo: Castle in Ocna, Mures, Mures county)

These monuments bear witness to the habits of the past, illustrating social and territorial organization and the aristocrats living in these regions, from the 15th to the 20th century. Situated outside urban areas, on the land of nobility, the ensembles consisted of the nobleman's residence (a palace or an old castle), the annexes indispensable to the nobleman's court (kitchen, bakery, distillery, stables, servants' lodging, storage space), the park and/or garden (embellished with rare species of trees and plants, statues, greenhouses). Apart from their historical value, the stately homes of Transylvania, Banat, Crișana și Maramureș represent examples of laic architecture of Western European fashion, but interpreted in a local manner that adds to the picturesque ensemble. Thus, the forms and typologies vary with the region, the statute of the owner and his resources, the period in which the stately home was built, the dominant artistic movement and the conceptions of that period.

irina mansion_in_coplean,_cluj_county(Photo: Mansion in Coplean, Cluj County)

During the communist regime, these monuments were taken from their owners and their function shifted from private to public use. They were transformed into village-halls, schools, high-schools, medical institutions, psychiatric hospitals, tuberculosis hospitals, orphanages. But most often, stately homes were transformed into headquarters for the Agricultural Cooperatives for Production (C.A.P) or the Agricultural State Enterprises (I.A.S.).  In the last years, most of these monuments were returned to their former owners, frequently in very poor condition. Some of them have been restored and turned into beautiful landmarks that attract tourists, such as count Kalnoky’s mansion in Micloșoara, the Apafi manor in Mălâncrav or the Banffy castle in Bonțida which has become a heritage training centre. But apart from these few examples, there are many other monuments which remain hidden and forgotten.

irinabrancovenesti_castle,_mures_county (2)(Photo: Brancovenesti Castle, Mures county)

The photographic material was organized by a small interdisciplinary team consisting of two students from the school of architecture, one art history student and one architect. Motivated by the lack of information available, they started documenting these monuments further and have been publishing articles on the project’s blog and in the Romanian newspapers.

The photographic material collected by the students was organized and stocked into a public digital archive which can be accessed HERE. In addition, the project was aimed at promoting these forgotten monuments through a series of events and exhibitions, such Street Delivery in 2008. In 2011, it has organized a second exhibition at Cărturești, in Bucharest, an exhibition which can also be seen in Brașov, Cluj and Timișoara. It can also be viewed online. You can also read about the history of the project (in Romanian) HERE.'