Curtea Veche.  in Bucharest, Romania

Curtea Veche

in Bucharest, Romania

00118 - BUCUREŞTI: Biserica Sf. Anton "Curtea Veche" Photo © Gogulescu Silviu

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Curtea Veche

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Curtea Veche (Old Princely Court) is the very first fortress built in Bucharest, and a seat for many of Wallachia (Wikipedia Article)'s rulers.


Supposedly built by Mircea the Elder (1386-1418) at the beginning of the 15th century, Curtea Veche was situated on the northern shore of the river Dâmboviţa on a small cape. Later, Vlad the Impaler (Wikipedia
	Article) (Dracula), during his reign in Wallachia, consolidated the fortress and raised it to the rank of princely court, as an alternative to the one in Târgovişte which was the capital city. However, the first certain information about Curtea Veche comes from Radu the Handsome, Vlad the Impaler's brother and usurper, who moved the capital city from Târgovişte to Bucharest.

Over time, the fortress passed through many consolidation phases, and it is certainly known that its role was a defensive one. Stephen the Great, Vlad the Impaler's cousin and ruler of Moldavia, mentioned the fortress in his chronicle under the name of Dâmboviţa. In fact, he personally led a siege campaign against it, which ended with Radu the Handsome fleeing the castle while his daughter (who later became Stephen's wife) and his riches were captured. Stephen the Great besieged the fortress once again, thus helping Vlad the Impaler gain back the throne of Wallachia in 1476.

Statue of Vlad Dracula - Curtea
Statue of Vlad Dracula - Curtea Veche.

Vlad the Impaler's next move was to start a war against the Ottoman Empire (Wikipedia Article), for which he wrote to the boyars of Braşov asking for help in consolidating the fortress of Bucharest once again. In this period, the fortress is known under several different names: Castrum Bokoryscha, Bocerestya, and Bocoresth.

Over the course of the next few years, the court was renovated and consolidated several times, some changes being so radical that certain documents mention it under the name Cetatea Nouă (The New Fortress). Though the rulers of Wallachia chose alternately between Curtea Veche and the one in Târgovişte, according to either their preference or strategical plans, over 30 remaining documents dating from the year 1506 were issued here, and the name of the court was already known then as Bucharest. After the massive fire in 1718, which destroyed the whole town of Bucharest, and the powerful earthquake in 1738, the fortress became derelict and was later rebuilt by Alexandru Ipsilanti in 1776, known since as Curtea Nouă (The New Princely Court). Today, the ruins of the Voivodal Palace became a protected archaeological site, part of the museum of Curtea Veche.


When first built, the court was measured to be 160 square meters in surface, and was surrounded by a defensive moat. Archaeological discoveries led to the belief that the fortress was built out of brick and river stones, covering a surface of 900 square meters in the 15th century. It appears that the ground floor was unusually tall, suspended on very large dungeons, with an inner court that measured about 100 square meters.
	Curtea Veche
Curtea Veche.

It was situated on the area located between Halelor, Şelari, Lipscani, Bărăţiei, and Calea Moşilor streets, all of them in the historical center. The entire court was comprised of the Voivodal Palace, the church, Buna Vestire, also known as the church of Curtea Veche, lodges with reception salons, princely offices, stables, and gardens. Access to the court was possible via two opposite gates. The first once, placed at the intersection of Smârdan and Halelor streets, was known under several names: Poarta de Sus (The Upper Gate), Turnul despre Nemți (The German Tower), Clopotnița Domnească (Courtly Belfry), and finally Foișorul Roșu (Red Gazebo). The second gate, known as Poarta de Jos (The Lower Gate), was situated in the very spot where Calea Moşilor street begins today.

How to Get There

Curtea Veche is located on 25-31 Franceză street. If you get to the historical center, it is easy to reach by foot - all the streets are for pedestrians only. To get to the historical center, take the subway to Unirii station, or by bus (234, 104, 178) to the same station, or tram (14, 21, 40) to Sfântu Gheorghe station. However, the best way is by cab as they are cheap in Bucharest.


The site and museum are open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM. The price for a ticket is 5 RON ($1.25) ( €1 ($1.15)) for adults, 2 RON ($0.50) ( €1 ($0.58)) for students, 6 RON ($1.50) for a guide, and 15 RON ($3.75) ( €4 ($4.60)) for photography permission. Every first Saturday of the month, the entrance is free of charge.

Other Attractions

The historical center is an attraction in itself, being the perfect place in Bucharest to relax with a cocktail or a beer, or to try the local cuisine. At a walking distance is the Palace of the Parliament, the largest building in Europe, and second largest in the world. Further up Calea Victoriei (Victoriei Lane), you can visit the National Museum of Art, and former Royal Palace, and right across from it, you shouldn't miss the Romanian Athenaeum, house of the Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Sep 26, 2014

Pictures of Curtea Veche

The oldest church in Bucharest - Biserica Sf. Anton - Curtea Veche (explored h. #40) - Curtea Veche
The oldest church in Bucharest - Biserica Sf. Anton - Curtea Veche (explored h. #40) - Photo by Ramona Răican

Curtea Veche
Curtea Veche.


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