Have you ever thought that palm trees can grow in Chisinau as well? No, it is not about those in the greenhouses of the vegetable garden.
It was the beginning of the week, when my colleagues told me that palm trees were growing in a palace in Chisinau, and I could photograph it. It seemed like a joke born out of my passion for abandoned buildings, which I like to walk around and take pictures of. I can already picture plant-filled walls, plants clinging to broken window frames, palm trees – some giant weed in the middle of the forgotten room. But it wasn’t a joke
It was about palm trees that “found” their home in a building in the capital. You may have been able to see them, but if not, then it’s time to do so.
Green area on the ground floor
Five palms bathed in sunlight passing through the glass roof. They are so long that the leaves reach the ceiling. “There are three females and two men,” says Lyudmila Georgiev, deputy director of the Palace of Railway Culture.
The building, built in 1980, was designed by three architects (B. Vaisbein, S. oihet and T. Lomova) to receive visitors with a green area. Therefore, the green area had to be arranged before the entire palace was built. Railway employees were asked which factories they would like to see there. “Palm trees and magnolias, as in the botanical garden?” they asked. “It seemed like a frenzy that few believed in, but it’s been 40 years since we’ve watched them grow up,” says the very energetic woman with burgundy short hair. Ludmila does not seem to know the definition of age. It moves very lightly through the 1,100 square feet building m²so I have to hurry.
Enterprise – like a small town
Lyudmila Georgiev is a sports teacher and former director of the railway sports school. The building of the Palace of Culture entered the railway in 1981, when the company became a small town in the heart of the capital. At that time, Kalia Ferrato had a kindergarten for the children of employees and a sports school. In the palace you can find piano, guitar, clay and painting workshops. “Once upon a time it was beautiful and lively here … It was once. But, slowly and slowly, restructuring took place all over the country and the railway was not crossed,” the woman recalls. She sighed and went up some stairs, greeted a guard and asked him to open the great hall. “Icing on the cake here. All we have is the bestShe explains as if she was trying to forget the years she was watching kindergarten, then the workshops, but in the end the sports school closed.
It was August 25, 1997 – the day the sports school was canceled, the order was signed, and the director had to say goodbye to the staff. “Due to a lack of funding, we closed our doors. That’s right I concluded an important and beautiful chapter in my life ”, admits Lyudmila Georgiev. Part of that past is still preserved today in the Railway Museum.
School sports activity records are arranged on a table in the center of the museum. There are reports, congratulatory messages, photos with coaches, children at competitions, and many memories that Lyudmila comes to browse through when she is feeling sad. He passes his right hand over the yellowed time sheets and stops at the command announcing the school’s cancellation. It still hurts. He raises his hand off the log, and his gaze dodged elsewhere.
‘For the sake of culture’, but not so much
The Railway Palace of Culture is located in the immediate vicinity of the Chisinau railway station, at the end of Gagarin Street. History says that the palace’s architectural layout was designed to create a “plastic accent” for the entrance from the former Lenin Garden (now Valley of the Roses, ed.). The entrance was through a corridor arranged on concrete pillars connecting the body of the two halls (large hall – 700 seats, small hall – 300 seats) with the gymnasiums. Behind this corridor, which resembles the backbone of a dinosaur, was once a green area with trees and a playground.
However, in November 2007, the Tarlev government offered this land for free to the public cultural and art association “Lăutarii”, led by Nikolai Butgros. The land was to be used for the construction of a socio-cultural building – “for the purpose of promoting cultural values”.
Things held steady until 2017, when this land was repurposed, and Putgros was quick to partner with an economic agent. Thus, the project included not only the construction of a building for social and cultural purposes, but also two blocks of apartments. “The short distance from the Palace of the Railroad building was not taken into account,” said Aurelia Honko, director of the foundation in 2017.
The constructions were chosen with a big scandal, people protested, and activists reported a series of violations. But Nikolai Butgros shrugged his shoulders, declaring that he knew nothing of the construction of the two 9-storey buildings, the construction of which he would never have allowed, because he said: “We want to build a hotel for artists who come on tour, but also for dissatisfied artists.”
However, the building of blocks did not stop. “The construction company cut down the trees in the area. I objected. We were told they were going to stop, but overnight we woke up with all the trees cut down, even though they were on our lands. They also took a part of our land that doesn’t belong to them. We protested again “We are tired of scandals ‘ says Ludmila, waving in disappointment from her hand to the new blocks rising behind the palace. Really Official Page For the construction company, the price per square meter of such blocks is more than 900 euros.
The fight for the palace
This is not the only test that the Palace of Culture has undergone for railways. In 2000, the building was put up for sale. “The union of 15,000 employees who contributed to the construction of the palace with 200 working hours opposed us and succeeded. But we were attached to the construction department of the railways, because there are only so many things in common between culture and construction … ”, Ludmila joked, remembering that period.
In 2013, after a new round of restructuring, the palace became self-managing. This relieved the palace staff of the problem faced by railway workers – the salary that could be delayed by more than half a year.
The palace, however, was “silent”, without events, with many halls closed for several years. “She was left to be demolished … Perhaps her fate was the same as the Palace of Trade Unions, which now no longer exists, but as soon as my eyes shed tears from the beauty I saw there,” says Lyudmila Georgiev. Seven years ago the management changed and things changed.
The ten annual events held in the palace were not enough to revive the palace. So part of the building was rented out as well as the concert halls. “Still ban. From there – from the outside … This is how we do it, ”adds Lyudmila.
Oasis Foundation State
We walk into the large concert hall with chairs upholstered in red velvet. We move into a small room covered in tropical green. We walk the long halls, where time seems to hang. However, that idea is shattered when we reach the ground floor again. We sit on one of the benches and look at the broad leaves of the palm. The small fountain in the corner of the room creates soothing music.
A woman is passing by the palm trees, scanning the floor with a bored and slightly absent look, looking for the trash from which she was to escape.
In a low voice as if the silence of this oasis had subsided, Ludmila Gheorghiev begins to tell the story. “Palm trees are 10-15 meters high and about the same depth. In one year we thought we would lose them,” she admits. The leaves began to dry and fall off, and the females of the trees no longer gave dates continuously, as they had done up to then, and began to lose their vitality. They called my Doctor of Science from the Botany Institute. “I prepared the lessons. They explained to us how to take care of them and the fertilizer we give them every month, and since then, our palm trees have recovered and are still growing and growing,” Ludmila says.
The woman smiles at an idea she keeps only to herself. He heads to the office to work at the August 5 cultural event. “We just learned it at the time. It’s rail day and it must be beautiful,” says Ludmila, as she steps across the hall whose steps echo with her steps..
My thoughts go to the sea, to the tropics, but also to the feel-good palms growing beautifully within an establishment with wooden walls, stone floors and a history spanning 40 years.