BALCHIC

Rositsa Malcheva-Zlatkova
Dunav Press AD, Rousse, Bulgaria, 2006
ISBN 954-9769-25-9

Courtesy of Alexandra T.


We are witnessing a renewed interest to historical exotics, somewhat ignored somewhat ridiculed, somewhat deliberately neglected. Here we have a confirmation of such positive trend in the reading public. This book gives us a refreshing assurance that books can be written with imagination, information, and accuracy. Everything that a good and fascinating historical reading needs. Its story is familiar and mysterious, true and fictitious at the same time. The coast of a semi-legendary palace in a sea town is the witness of a personal and global drama. Reshaping of Balkan and European boundaries, battles and negotiations, diplomacy and cruelty, the whirlwind of a war, first called the Great, and later, more sensibly World War I, is presented in miniatures of humaneness compared to world historical misfortunes.

On this background, the author accumulates such diverse and differently sourced information, combines dynamic reality with human emotions and silent love, which becomes part of historical existence. Humaneness often cast away under the roar of battles and the Jesuitism of peace negotiations. We can find everything in this book Balkan temperament and endless love for Homeland, sophisticated social manners and the anguish of personal insecurity of Queen Marie. The last one is only possessed by intelligent, easily hurt and good people. If it is true that the royal crown is heavy, her life is the most impressive confirmation of such fate. That is how Balkan wars, court intrigues, love, friendship and betrayal can be seen and experienced.

Therefore, you should read this extraordinary book. You will see in it much more than you have imagined you knew. About Balcic, the sea, the untold drama of a woman with a calling to be a Queen of a foreign country and because of that calling doomed to sacrifice her personal happiness. She found comfort in flowers, the pictures of the sea she painted and the buildings she created. The Palace, Balcic, the Black Sea, and our land acquire a special zest. It leaves the monotonous sequence of chronicles and annals, of official historiography or the automatic lecture of a tourist guide. This book opens a page where the places you have seen or will see by the sea shine with new light and new importance.

ANDREI PANTEV



More than ever today when the world is facing such a crisis of bewilderment and unrest, must we stand firm in Faith seeing that which binds together instead of tearing asunder.
                                                                             Marie 1936



In a warm June night we start for Balcic to film the most exciting residence of Romanian Queen Marie. "Tenha Juva" the Serene Nest, as the queen named this spot on the Black Sea coast, is embraced with legends and delusions. We travel in silence, as if we expect a meeting the Mystery of a shrine. The huge summer stars shine as diamond buttons on the black robe of the night. There is something jesting and challenging in their twinkling as if they are awaiting the touch of somebody's fingers, taking away the velvet secrets of the night from its shoulders.

Suddenly, the winding road goes steeply downwards. The car speeds and our eyes, gazing at the endless sky, cannot catch with us. The dashing run of the wheels abruptly stops in front of half open massive gates. The gap exudes a soft light and calls us gently. Behind the threshold, a legend expects us about a woman, whose wildness and greatness surged the Balkans and built its own shelter from reality here in Balcic.

Under the heavy tree crowns, the tired twentieth century has sat down undisturbed. The twentieth centuryit gave human kind the confidence that the mystery of the Universe can be solved, but also gave people a new fear. The fear that there is nothing absolute neither space or time, nor good or evil or sin. Nations glorify themselves and stigmatize their opponents, often describing them as inhuman. The age-old power of monarchy is cracking. Injustice is eating up Europe. By Mistake or inevitably, human kind is overwhelmed by the sense of moral anarchy threateningly and excitingly at the same time. Wars tear apart the heart of Mother Earth and cover her body with crosses of known and unknown youths. An age that dresses Europe in mourning for long, the twentieth century remains here in Balcic. The palace still hides its rises and falls under its thick shadows. The life of a queen is tributary to its own pace. Her journeys and quests stop here, in the embrace of this century ...

The night sky slowly fades and raises the heavy sleepy cover off the Palace. Above the thick green trees, red mill chimneys rise as rabbit ears, hidden and nimble. Each awoken ray lights up a new picturesque view. Faraway sceneries and remembered looks into the past, hanging terraces, orthodox chapel and Turkish fountains, winding paths along artificial caves and secret spots. Imposing trees arranged in a row as a reef hang from the very cliff edge with branches reaching out for the sea. In the green shade, there is a marble throne and in front of it a small table made of broken Roman column, still awaiting their Queen.

But why here, in Balcic?

We know that Queen Marie found a way to express her craving for beauty and harmony by creating her own atmosphere everywhere and in everything. The picture revealed by the morning is nothing like the places we know. The adventurous splendor of Cotroceni and Pelior's two castles with romantic towers is missing. The fairy emanation of the small house in Sinaia woods hidden among pines is missing. The ascetic furniture is missing of the low white edifice near Iai, which sheltered the royal family during World War.

What did Balcic mean to the queen?

A symbol of victory and superior power? A way to affirm Romanian presence in Dobruja? A romantic retreat from the world's intrigues and new dangers?

But was this enough for her to want her heart to remain here unburied forever?

Perhaps the Palace is a romantic epitaph, written by the Queen herself? Perhaps the edifices and gardens are illustrations of the most precious moments of her life? The palace, her last adventure, has turned into a tomb of a Balkan queen.

Around the minaret, stretching far into the sky, swallows are flying. In the crystal clear sky a star has not yet found her way home...