BANLOC MANOR – a former Aristocratic and Royal Residence in western Romania


The following post has previously been published by Diana Mandache  in her weblog on the history of Romanian royalty. Banloc Manor from the Banat region in western Romania represents one of the many examples of grand period properties that once belonged to Romania’s royals and important aristocrats, which in the last decades suffered abuse and are now left to deteriorate, facing an uncertain future. However, there are also a number of positive examples that signal an encouraging trend and I mention here the Royal Savarsin Castle from the same region as Banloc, which is now back in the property of former King Michael of Romania. That estate is currently undergoing a thorough restoration, planned to function as a private residence and also as an ecofriendly hotel. Another example is Count Kálnoky’s castle in central Transylvania that is now a successful hospitality business and organic farm.


Princess Elisabeta of Romania, the former Queen of Greece, bought Banloc Manor in 1935 from the Karátsonyi family, local  Hungarian-Italian aristocrats, from the Banat region of Romania. Elisabeta restored and remodelled the manor, using it as a holiday residence for herself and other members of the royal family, among them King Michael of Romania and Helen, the Queen Mother.

Banloc Manor in 1942
Banloc Manor in 1942 – Diana Mandache collection

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Romanian cookery and period houses

"A Taste of Romania" by Nicolae Klepper
“Taste of Romania” by Nicolae Klepper

Acquiring, restoring and owning a period property requires a great deal of intellectual work. One has to study and construct an entire imaginary map of the artistic/ architectural value of the building, its history and not in the least to attempt recreating the atmosphere and lifestyle associated with the house.

The cuisine specific to the country or the region where the property is located is the usually overlooked aspect in that effort. I believe that finding out how the locals cook or what kind of ingredients they use is an important aspect in successfully recreating the atmosphere and character of a period/ traditional house.

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QUEEN MARIE of ROMANIA: "My Dream-Houses"

The text bellow entitled “My Dream-Houses” was written by Queen Marie of Romania in the 1920s. Marie was Romania’s British Queen, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, born and raised at Eastwell Manor, near Ashford, Kent. In the text she refers and describes with vivid imagination Romanian traditional houses and also her own country residences. The document thus represents an excellent insight by a most qualified witness into the ambiance of an epoch from when most of Romania’s period property stock dates. Narrative accounts like this are a great means to form a better image for anyone looking for a dream-house of their own in Romania.

(This post has initially been published in Diana Mandache’s weblog )

Queen Marie of Romania in peasant costume on the veranda of a traditional house, end 19th c. (Diana Mandache collection)
Queen Marie of Romania in peasant costume on the veranda of a traditional house, end 19th c. (Diana Mandache collection)

“To possess a home of her own is the dream of every woman’s life. No matter how small, how modest, but she wants it to be her very own, her nest, her refuge, her retreat. Even as a child, in imagination I was always building my home. I saw it in many shapes, for I was always a visionary. Beautiful pictures filled my soul, but I also wanted to create. Visions alone did not suffice me; I wanted to build, to realize, to accomplish. A sister, a year younger than myself, was my constant companion; with her I shared my dreams, and it was together with her that I built my first little dream-house. Absurd as it sounds, we built it out of a cast-away cupboard which an old family servant had obtained for us, I can’t remember how. We stood up this cupboard in a shady place among some bushes, added a thatched roof and painted a large heart upon its green door. The paint ran, so the heart became a bleeding heart, and in this narrow retreat we sat hand in hand dreaming. That was in my childhood.

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Casota Conac: a magnificent Romanian period property with a great potential

I would like to introduce you to a remarkable period property from south-eastern Romania, the Casota Conac that I am very familiar with since I grew up in that area. The description below is a brief introduction to one of the most prized types of countryside period property in Romania, the equivalent in this part of Europe of the English Manor of French country chateau.

Casota Conac ©Valentin Mandache
Casota Conac ©Valentin Mandache


  • “Conac” is the term given in southern and eastern Romania (the old provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia) to country mansions or manors built by local aristocrats, the boyars. Their main function was as summer residences and also as administrative quarters for their large estates. The word itself is of Turkish origin, reflecting centuries of domination by the Ottoman Empire in the Romanian lands.
  • Casota Conac is one of the finest such building examples, a fact that makes it an architectural example for the entire region north east of Bucharest.The conacs were confiscated from their owners by the communist regime and transformed in collective farm headquarters, schools or left to fall into disrepair. After 1989 most of these buildings were restored to their rightful owners and some are now on the market. With Romania’s EU accession, the conacs are formally recognized as historical buildings of high architectural value and seen as important status symbol by their owners.

Geography, distances:

  • Casota conac is located in Buzau county in the southern Romanian province of Wallachia, in the middle of the Baragan plain, a grain cultivated region similar in terms of climate and soil with the American Midwest Prairie, a rare geographical setting for Europe. The black earth soil or chernozem is extremely fertile, ideally suitable for growing the finest organic produce. Two small rivers Cotorca and Sarata, doted by natural and manmade lakes, flowing into Ialomita, an important tributary of the Danube, drain the area.
  • The climate is continental-temperate, similar with lower Austria’s or Hungary’s, which is characterised by its very distinctive four seasons: beautiful springs and autumns, hot summers and cold, snowy winters.
  • Casota is a village of about 500 inhabitants, mostly small holding peasant farmers and commuters to nearby industrial towns. It is part of the district (commune) of Glodeanu-Silistea (5000 inhabitants).
  • The conac is situated close to Romania’s capital, at only 50 miles (82 km) drive from central Bucharest (2 million inhabitants). The Otopeni international airport, country’s largest, is 55 miles (90 km) away. The road from the capital is the main motorway to north-eastern Romania. The conac is located at 2 km distance from first exit north after the small town of Urziceni. The county town, Buzau (120,000 inhabitants), is 45 north of the conac, following the same motorway.

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