LA PERLA NERA - IL CASINO DI COSTANZA

Once considered to be the country s very own Monte Carlo, abandoned remains are now all that s left of Romania s majestic Casino Constanta. Perched on a cliffside overlooking the Black Sea, the impressive structure s art deco shapes and details are still in tact despite having shuttered decades ago. First commissioned by King Carol I, the casino was originally built between 1904 and 1910 by a Romanian architect called Petre Antonescu according to the plans of Daniel Renard. The Casino fist opened to the public in 1910. He initially hoped to pay homage to the country s artistic traditions, but scrapped those plans to instead erect an Art Nouveau palace for the Belle Epoque. All details were considered, right down to the unique shell-shaped windows and 18th century Baroque accents. The casino eventually came to be a symbol of the seaside city and a similar building was built in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Located in what was once Romania s most important port, the casino proved to be a major attraction for Europe s royalty and elite and became a preferred destination of those who used to frequent the French Riviera. However, difficult circumstances in the country over the 20th century saw the casino pass hands several times - and eventually fall into disrepair. It was briefly used as a hospital during World War II and during the communist regime was repurposed as a restaurant. Maintaining the elaborate structure quickly became prohibitively expensive, and the building was formally and finally closed in 1990. Since then, there have been several attempts at restoration but has remained abandoned, though authorities haven t made much effort to keep the public out. Currently owned by the Constanta Municipality, the European Union reportedly granted €10million in 2013 to a proposed restoration plan, with renovations expected to begin in the fall of 2015.  These pictures were taken in 2016.