When one strolls through the old centre of Bucharest, it is impossible not to notice and stop for a while in front of the archaeological site of the Old Court of Bucharest. This was the first Princely Court in Bucharest, used by numerous rulers and princes of Wallachia until the 18th century.
Around 1386 – 1418, Mircea the Elder was the first to build here a citadel with brick walls and a moat. In the 15th century, his grandson, Vlad the Impaler, who was preparing to start a military campaign against the Turks, fortified the citadel and declared it a princely court, secondary to the one in Târgoviște. Radu the Fair, Vlad’s brother, was the one who moved the main court to Bucharest.
The vestiges of the Old Court and valuable archaeological artefacts from that period were brought to light by numerous diggings that took place in 1953 and between 1967 and 1972. From that era you can see the brick and stone walls in the northern and eastern parts of the archaeological complex. Specialists claim that the princely castle had a surface of 900 sqm and was surrounded by an interior court of 100 sqm.
Over the years, the complex suffered numerous essential changes. Mircea the Shepherd transformed the old citadel in a palace and ordered the erection of a princely church, which served as the crowning place of Wallachia’s rulers for two centuries. Under his rule, the court reached a surface of 25,000 sqm. Other rulers contribute to the court’s aspect, but its glow was given by Constantin Brâncoveanu and Ştefan Cantacuzino in the 18th century, when the palace was enriched with sculpted columns, imposing marble stairs and precious paintings, being surrounded by beautiful Italian gardens. Under their rule, the court was composed of a Princely Palace, a church (now known as the Old Court Church), houses with reception halls, the princely chancelleries and stables. Fires, earthquakes and attacks, as well as the lack of interest of the following rulers contributed to the princely court’s deterioration in the second half of the 18th century.
Although for a time it was thought that the court had been completely destroyed, the archaeological works on the site revealed important ruins. Nowadays, the ruins of the Princely Palace have become a protected archaeological site, and an outdoor museum (the Old Court Museum) has been arranged inside the court’s premises. Here you can see the foundations of the first citadel, dating from the 14th century, the princely palace’s facilities (such as the water supply system or the Turkish baths), the exterior and interior decorations and the mural paintings. The touristic, scientific, historical and cultural importance of the Old Court archaeological complex makes it one of Bucharest’s main reference points.
Monday – Sunday: 9:00 – 17:00
How to get there:
The Old Court is situated in the city centre, within 5 minutes walking distance from the Union Square and 10 minutes way from the Palace of the Parliament.
Franceză St, no 25 – 31
tel. +40 213 140 375