Apart from being a cosy guesthouse in a pleasant Transylvanian town, Casa Rațiu is home of one of the most important Romanian noble families whose history intertwined with that of the region. It is the appropriate place to promoting and discovering the cultural and historical heritage of Transylvania.
The typical, peaceful Transylvanian town of Turda is just 30 kilometres southeast of Romania's most thriving city, Cluj-Napoca. The interwar mayor of Turda, Augustin Ratiu, bought this beautiful house located in the centre of the town.
Currently organized to host the tourists charmed by Transylvania, as well as corporate and private events, this elegant and comfortable guesthouse has been the home of past century's joys and dramas.
Over the last century, Casa Rațiu
has become a symbol of resilience and service of a family which played a crucial role in defending the rights of the Romanian nation in Transylvania.
The family trace its roots back to 14th century, when a certain Wallachian knight called Thomas served the King of Hungary
Sigismund of Luxemburg (1368-1437)Sigismund of Luxemburg
. Thomas fought in the lands of Croats, therefore he earned the surname of „Rácz” (Rațiu being the Romanian transliteration of the Hungarian Ratz/Rácz).
Born at the end of 18th century,
Basiliu Rațiu (1783-1870)Basiliu Rațiu
, the first canon of the Cathedral Chapter of Blaj
, is considered the forefather of the modern Rațiu family.
An influential figure of the Greek-Catholic Church, Fr. Basiliu was also a leading proponent for national rights for Romanians in Transylvania. In 1838-1839, he erected in Turda Biserica Rățeștilor, a church to be served by priests from within Rațiu family. The will of the founder has been respected for 110 years, until 1948, when the Greek-Catholics were outlawed and the church was confiscated by the Communists.
In 1868, aged 85, Basiliu Rațiu was brought to trial by the Hungarian state authorities for protesting against the Magyarization policy and the incorporation of Transylvania in the Hungarian Kingdom, in a famous hystorical document called
The first signature of the 1868 Blaj Pronouncement is Basiliu'sBlaj Pronouncement
. ”The Pronouncement
is the truth. I would gladly die in prison for the truth”, he said.
Decades later, Basil's nephew,
Ioan Rațiu (1828-1902)Ioan Rațiu
, became the president of the Romanian National Party, established in 1881. Ioan Rațiu was himself brought to trial after he had argued for the equal rights of Romanians in Transylvania in a Memorandum
sent to the
Franz Josef (1830-1916)Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef
. Hungarian extremists ransacked his house in Turda in 1892. Rațiu family had to leave the town and took refuge for a while in Sibiu
The authors of Memorandum.
On the first row, in the middle - Ioan Rațiu
In 1894, alongside other leaders of the National Romanian Party, Ioan Rațiu got a 2-year prison sentence. Imprisoned, he was pardoned few months later by Emperor Franz Joseph. The Hungarian authorities harsh reaction to the 1892 Memorandum and the lack of interest of Imperial circles from Viena led many to the conclusion that the only solution for Romanians of Transylvania was the unification with the Romanian Kingdom. The unification eventually took place in 1918, at the end of World War I and the demise of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Lawyer and mayor of Turda after 1918,
Augustin Rațiu (1884-1970)Augustin Rațiu
was another leading member of Rațiu family.
First owner of the house, Augustin was one of the delegates who voted for the unification of Transylvania with the Romanian Kingdom at the Great National Assembly which took place on December 1, 1918, in Alba Iulia. He was the first Romanian Prefect of Turda county after the unification.
Augustin's eldest son, Ion Rațiu, spent his childhood at Casa Rațiu
in Turda. After the outbreak of the World War II, as a young diplomat with the Romanian Embassy in London,
Ion Rațiu (1917-2000)Ion Rațiu
chose to resign the diplomatic corps and to remain in exile when Romania allied with Germany. From London, Ion Rațiu fought the dictatorship of general Antonescu and the Communist totalitarianism which followed.
Meanwhile, in Romania, his father, Augustin, was arrested, beaten and sent to the Communist labour camp of Danube - Black Sea channel. Their house in Turda, Casa Rațiu
, was nationalized. Augustin survived the horrors of the labour camp and returned to Turda. The Communists allowed him only once, in 1968, to visit the West and meet again his son in London.
In 1945, Ion Rațiu married
Elisabeth Pilkington (1921-2016)Elisabeth Pilkington
. In exile, he turned into a successful, skilled businessman. Ion Rațiu supported the Romanian underground opposition and constantly warned the Western world in his books and articles against a complacent attitude towards Soviet Russia and Communism.
In London, Ion Ratiu launched ”The World Union of Free Romanians”, the most important organisation of the Romanians in exile. He was in close contact with other exiled leaders from Communist countries - pictured above in 1963 with exiled Polish General Wladyslaw Anders - and the leaders of the Free World, such as Margaret Thatcher
In 1990, after five decades of exile, Ion Ratiu returned to Romania and unsuccessfully run for the presidency on behalf of the old Romanian National Peasant Party his forefather, Ioan Rațiu, had led one century before. However, Romanians soon regretted Ion Rațiu's ill-fated quest for the presidency. Now, feeling bitter and sorry, they use to call him ”the best president we never had”.
Ion Rațiu resisted miners' invasion
of Parliament in 1991
Ion Rațiu has remained an influential conservative statesman in the turbulent '90s, strongly committed to democracy, to promoting the freedom of speech and Iudeo-Christian civilisation's values. He also played a crucial role in the successful Romanian bid for NATO accession.
Ion Rațiu died in January 2000. Despite extremely cold weather, his funerals in Turda were attended by more than 10,000 people. As an illustration of the open wounds in the Romanian society and of the living consequences of Communist dictatorship, the church called by the name of his family, Biserica Rățeștilor
, erected by the patriarch of Rațiu family, Basiliu, remained closed to Ion Rațiu on that frosty day. The ceremony had to take place outside because the church was not returned to the Greek-Catholic community.
Ion Rațiu's democratic legacy and the memory of the entire Rațiu family from Turda are kept alive nowadays by Rațiu Democracy Centre
. Most of the events of the foundation are organized at Casa Rațiu