Few places in Romania have a higher concentration of garish gypsy palaces than the little town of Huedin, located just west of Cluj. The palaces have always struck me as the architectural equivalent of gold grillz and raised trucks—flashy emblems for American proles who want to project a moneyed lifestyle despite earning $30,000 a year.
Most people look at such ostentation and shake their heads, including myself. Clearly it’s a waste of money, right? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and use idiotic money pits like gypsy palaces in Huedin to make the point that those of us shaking our heads are losers in our own right, we just don’t realize it.
Just about everyone outside of a monastery (and even some within!) invests way too much money in things others find absurd. Sure, gaudy roofs over multistory homes that are only utilized on the ground floor may seem stupid to us, but that’s largely because our closest peers aren’t the ones building them. Just imagine if they were.
But enough moralizing. Here’s another tawdry gypsy palace on Huedin’s main drag that has a strong subcontinental vibe going on up top:
Looks a little like a Hello Kitty wedding cake, no?
It’s interesting to note how many of the cars parked in front of these monstrosities had plates from distant EU countries as far away as Great Britain. You know it’s gotta take a lot of remittances from Western Europe to get that chintzy look just right. Thanks, EU!
This next one’s my favorite—not for the stirring meretricious architecture, but for the company kept within its lofty gates:
There was a lady to the left of this frame sweeping the dirt (contrast is king), but I didn’t have the gall to photograph her, so I got her hog instead. She looked on with more or less passive disgust as I did this. Based on the abundance of firewood in the background, I think we can conjecture what kind of heating system the house has.
Below you can see how the pillars, carpets, and bubble windows linger in the backyard almost as an afterthought. Sometimes subtlety is the grandest display of all.
So what’s the point of this post, to act as an exhibition on ironic poverty porn? A little, I guess. Or is it simply more ragging on gypsies? Maybe, if you see it that way.
The main reason why I’m showcasing some of the best of Romania’s worst architecture is to poke fun at the funny things people around the world do with their money when they’re not a part of our social circle. It’s only funny because we don’t hold ourselves to this particular standard, but for each of us there likely is something we pour ourselves into that much of the world would find repugnant. So we’re all losers in our own way.
And for that reason, I say cheers to the gypsy palaces of Huedin.