A Romanian Power Plant

Romania is known for its architecture. But while many will no-doubt associate rural Romania with 14th century Gothic castles, and Medieval fortified churches, those aren’t the only striking styles on display.

I was quite moved by the sight of this old power plant… elaborate brickwork from the early 20th century, in a style that would soon after be abandoned with the arrival of Romanian communism, which eschewed such bourgeois designs. We visited in December, when the earth was hard and an almost invisible layer of frost gave the fields a muted pastel tone. The brickwork building seemed to dominate the landscape.

The power plant was constructed in 1923, a coal-burning plant that was later seized by Romania’s communist government. The new regime painted the slogan “Workers of the world, unite!” across the raised walkway joining the two blocks of the plant. The letters are faded now, but legible still.

The plant was eventually decommissioned in 1971. Since then, it has remained out of use and slowly fallen into ruin.

There was no one around to see when we hopped the fence, and pushed our way through waist-high yellowed weeds to reach the power plant’s main block. Although, even if we had been seen, the locals probably wouldn’t have cared. It soon became clear that anything of value had long since been stripped out. Looters had even pulled the copper wire out of the walls. So what we found instead was a shell; a beautiful, but ultimately useless shell. A former temple of power condemned to an afterlife as a crumbling folly.




















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  1. It’s. hard to wrap my mind around that building, with its details, as a power plant, what with my modern notions of utilitarian architecture. I like the contrasting transmission lines in the distance.

    • I know – I was thinking about this all the time I was there. When you look at older plants, like this or even Battersea in London, it’s incredible to think how much attention to detail used to go into such buildings. And now we basically get concrete-and-steel cubes instead! I found this building really quite beautiful, and a striking sight against the rural-industrial backdrop…

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