Literally. The stately Constanta Casino in Romania once hosted the family of Russian tsar Nicholas II, who became familiar with its large art deco rooms, lavish staircases and shell-shaped windows overlooking the Black Sea.

But now, this is what remains of the old casino – a crumbling, and rather spooky, abandoned manor.

Photojournalist Jakub Kyncl got special permission from Constanta City Hall to visit the old casino, which he said faced an uncertain future as the local community couldn’t afford to restore it to its former glory.

“There are hundreds of pigeons inside as well as family of cats eating deceased pigeons,” Mr Kyncl told

“Bird feathers and faeces are all over the building. A bandana over the mouth was a very good idea.”

The Art Nouveau building has had a fascinating history since it opened as a casino in 1910. Soon after the Russian royal family visited in 1914, it was converted to a military hospital with the outbreak of World War 1.

A devastating bomb attack at the hospital in 1916 left 10 people dead.

By 1917 it was operating as a casino again – until the outbreak of World War II, when it was again hit by a bomb.

Another blow came after the war, when Romania’s strong anti-gambling laws effectively ended its days as a casino.

It was given a new life as a restaurant, bar and meeting venue, but by 1990 it was abandoned and left to rot.

In January, the building was short-listed for a list of the seven most endangered buildings in Europe.

A submission to the Europa Nostra heritage foundation noted the main danger to the building came from the corrosion and rusting of metal.

“Sea storms and winds have shattered most of the windows facing the sea,” the submission read.


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