In 1893, Hasdeu family spent a few summer days in Câmpina, in the house of the chemist Dr. Constantin Istrati. B.P. Hasdeu admired the large park in the vicinity of his friend’s property and decided to buy it, in order to build there the Castle dedicated to his dead daughter’s memory.
Julia Hasdeu had died in 1888, at the age of eighteen, of tuberculosis. A precocious child, the young girl wrote poems, prose and theatre in French, and her work was published posthumously, due to his father, at «Hachette» Publishing House from Paris. Since his child’s death, the scholar B. P. Hasdeu consecrated a veritable cult to his daughter. The same as Victor Hugo, he chose the path of spiritualism as the only way to comfort himself and to experiment the communication with the other world.
Between 1888 and 1891, he built the first temple for Julia, in the sepulcher from the «Bellu» cemetery in Bucharest. Between 1894 and 1896 he built the Castle «Julia Hasdeu», according to the blueprints designed by himself, inspired, as he ensured, by the immortal spirit of the child. The manuscripts demonstrated that the original blueprint of the castle was different, being similar to that of a cathedral. Gradually, it was changed until reaching its final form: three stone towers, the one in the middle representing the dome that hosted the temple. Near the tower from the left, there were two abutments, between which there functioned an elevator that was used to lift up the food on the middle terrace, where the scientist spent his time during the hot days. The stone door, on which one can notice the blazon of the Petriceicu family, the slogan of the Hasdeu family (« Pro fide et patria ») and Galileo Galilei’s words (« E pur si muove »), could rotate around an axis and represented the main entrance to the Castle. It was sided by two stone thrones, on which there were carved Julia’s main seven reincarnations, the twelve laws and the Pythagorean symbols (the pentagram and the seven circles). On each throne there was a woman sphinx, guardian of the entrance. Above the door there was the Eye of the World, and on the crenels one could read a date: July 2, the day when B.P. Hasdeu used to symbolically celebrate his two Julias: his wife and his daughter. The lateral doors had grids that symbolized the Sun; therefore they were painted in yellow and green-shaded blue. The exterior covers were provided with stained glass painted in the same shades, and above them there were two symbols: the cross in vertical position and beneath it the crescent in horizontal position. The windows of the Castle also had grids and stained glass intersected by a cross, and in the interior, on both sides, there were parallel mirrors. The role of the parallel mirrors is symbolic: with their help, all that get through there is infinitely re-created.
« Julia Hasdeu » Castle has basement and terraces. On the middle terrace one can notice, if looking from behind the building, a small room, above which there is the Cross. It is projected on the circular window, and one can discover this inside, when looking at the Cross painted in red and at the circle quarters painted in yellow.
Inside, the monument is decorated with a fresco and marble, in various colors. In the tower from the left of the edifice there are the guest hall and the living room, both rooms being decorated with capital columns. In the living room there are the family portraits, painted on the wall, surrounded by laurel crowns. In the tower from the right, there are: the scholar’s office, the dining room and the room for the spiritualist sessions. The mural painting of the first two halls has flowers as main element, and they are the most lighted rooms during the day, because the Castle is orientated towards North, the right tower towards East and the left tower towards West. The room for the spiritualist sessions was obscure and on the walls there were painted symbols: an angel’s head, a triangle, a butterfly (as noticed in a photo of the original mural painting) and, most probably, other undiscovered symbols. Nowadays, the mural painting of this room hasn’t been restored.
B.P. Hasdeu lived here for ten years, from 1897 until August 25, 1907, when he died. His wife had died on July 2, 1902. Around the Castle, the Hasdeu couple had built another three houses. Two of them were demolished after World War II, even if they were in a good condition. The third one is nowadays hosting the library, the archive and the reading room of « B.P. Hasdeu » Memorial Museum.
After the scholar’s death, the testamentary executors (only three accepted, of the six whom Hasdeu had appointed) confronted with the problem of the maintenance of the monument and its heritage. Living far from Câmpina, in hostile historical conditions and confronting with phony heirs of the scholar, in long lawsuits, they neglected the desolation that started to dominate the Castle, gradually transforming it into a ruin. Furthermore, the strangers got into the edifice and took away the assets: furniture, paintings, decorative objects and books. One of the executors, the lawyer C.M. Ciocazan, donated what he inherited through Hasdeu’s will to «B.P. Hasdeu » Popular Athenaeum, which functioned in Câmpina; he also took care of the edifice as much as he could. The initiative to create a memorial museum in the Castle belonged to the intellectuals that activated in the Athenaeum.
The inter-war local and central press drew attention upon Hasdeu’s « metaphysical temple », which transformed into a « dear desolation ». A journalist noted that if the beautiful statue of Christ wouldn’t have been there, the Castle had been completely ruined.
In the 50s, the well-known literary historians Perpessicius and Calinescu expressed their opinions regarding the importance of the monument, proposing to found there a memorial museum dedicated to B.P Hasdeu and his illustrious family.
In the beginning of the 60s, the Castle has already been on the list of the architectural monuments, becoming a department of the Regional Museum of History (manager: Professor Nicolae Simache). After the consolidation, repairing and restoration of the edifice, (made by painter Tent) in April 1965, “B. P. Hasdeu” memorial museum was opened for visiting.
Because of the earthquake from March 4, 1977, the Castle’s walls cracked, threatening to fall down; therefore, the museum was immediately closed and the monument undertook another restoration process, that time a very long one, the works continuing even today.
Invoking the lack of some mural painting fragments on the vault, and considering Tent’s painting much too naïve, (on a blue background there were stripes of clouds and angels’ heads), the restorers created a new painting instead. Even if there are written testimonies about the vault of the temple-Castle (blue, with clouds and stars), the issue of recomposing its decoration, and of a detailed study about the meaning of the symbols from that place was never raised. The fact that the dome enclosed a temple / sacred place (according to B.P. Hasdeu), dominated by the symbolic portrait of Jesus ascending to heavens, was enough to determine a good willed artist to transform the vault into a celestial sphere.
Without completing the restoration, « Julia Hasdeu » Castle was reintroduced into the cultural and tourist circuit in February 1995. Since then until today, tens of thousands of people have visited it, wishing to know the fascinating history of the symbolic edifice created by « the most erudite Romanian of the 19th century» (Mircea Eliade), under the powerful influence of the spiritual presence of his daughter. In the museum there are permanently exhibited heritage objects, such as: paintings, furniture, decorative art objects, books and documents, family belongings.
Until December 1998, “B. P. Hasdeu” Memorial Museum was a department of the County Museum of History and Archeology Prahova. Starting with 1999, it has been coordinated by the Local Council and the City Hall of the city of Câmpina. The local authorities and the staff who are working in the museum understood the importance of the cultural acts that bring to light the life and work of Hasdeu family. Also, they understood that the monument must be given back the image it used to have, as faithfully as possible. Therefore, the museographers are researching the comprehensive archive, gather information, and appeal to a vast bibliography, in order to decipher the mystery of the stone creation of the Romanian erudite.
In 1996, it was celebrated the centenary of « Julia Hasdeu » Castle. Various stories related to the castle have circulated for a century. Some people’s ignorance, other people‘s prejudices, their impossibility to raise at the level of Hasdeu’s mind, sometimes labeled the monument as a strange place.
For the curious visitor, willing to know more, a pilgrimage to « Julia Hasdeu » Castle may be the moment of a revelation, through the contact with the symbols and with the peaceful atmosphere of the place. Beyond semblances, the visitor will discover the essence, because, as Caragiale wrote, « here, in every spot, the matter tells something ».