The capital of Walachia from 14th to the 17th century, Targoviste is a city located at about 80 kilometers from the capital Bucharest. It’s most famous attraction is the Chindiei Tower (Turnul Chindiei), part of the The Princely Court.
The landscape is wonderful – the hill area is gorgeous – and the Princely Court, known as the formal residence for Wallachia’s princes, including Vlad Tepes (associated by many with Dracula), is definitely worth seeing. We took a one-day trip to Targoviste and saw this “ensemble” – as there are two churches plus ruins of a third one, the Chindia Tower, ruins of the palace, plus two houses, one home to an interesting museum. Here’s what you’ll see at the Princely Court in Targoviste, Romania.
The Princely Court in Targoviste: a bit of history
Dating back to the 15th century, the Princely Court in Targoviste has a complex history. The first buildings – a church and a residence – are believed to have existed in 1417, but fortifications and other buildings were added later.
For instance, there is a controversy regarding the year (and the ruler) when the Chindiei Tower was built. Some say it was built around 1440, which means during Vlad Tepes’ father’s reign, some say that it was built during Vlad Tepes’ second reign (he had three).
One thing is clear: it is an old structure, with fortified walls that are a must see – I really liked to see how the bricks were arranged – and the complex has a lot to offer to all its visitors: access to an important part of Romania’s history (there is an audio guide available on premises), great view (including a gorgeous panorama from the top of the Chindiei Tower, a nice museum, and you’ll learn about the fortifications’ system.
What you’ll see: the buildings
First, you’ll notice the Great Princely Church (now its undergoing major restoration works). Built by the ruler Petru Cercel, this church is quite impressive. It was built simultaneously with the palace and it had unprecedented proportions.
Then, you’ll see the ruins of the palace – you can go to the basement and there is a platform which allows you to walk across the ruins:)
Then, of course, you will get to the Chindiei Tower. It has an exhibition at the ground floor – as it has three stories – and, if you manage to go up the spiral stair, you’ll get a great panoramic view of the whole Princely Court in Targoviste.
Continuing your tour, you’ll get the the Dionisie Lupu house which now houses a museum: the Time and Old Books Museum (don’t you just love this title?). Here you can see some old books, an old board that was used by all the young children at school (my grandmother learned on such a board, with chalk), and more (I don’t want to unveil all that you’ll see here).
Further on, you’ll see another house, the one of Lady Balasa and in the back a second church, the Little Princely Church.
You can wander around the domain, smell the flowers, enjoy the green spaces and, when you leave the premises, you can go to the nearby park and have some fun – walking, go to the amusement park area, etc.
Like I said, The Princely Court in Targoviste is a great short trip from Bucharest – or a great stop on your tour in Romania. Keep in mind that if you want to follow Vlad Tepes’ trail, this is his official residence. Many rulers stayed here – and that is why, apart from seeing the fortifications, enjoying the view from above, a visit to the Princely Court in Targoviste is a trip back in time and a great learning opportunity.
As a side note, we went there on the Easter day – which is a public holiday in Romania and we were expecting it to be closed. But we were in Targoviste and thought to check it out. And it was open – to our surprise – and, of course, we took advantage of that. It was a nice family trip!
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