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The complex of monuments which form the Royal Court of Targoviste represents one of the most important architectural group from Tara Romaneasca (the Romanian Country) and has a great artistical and historical value. Being a royal residence for many centuries, the Royal Court offers the possibility of revealing a chapter of the romanian medieval art and history.
Starting with the year 1967, the Royal Court was transformed into a museum ensemble of the Muzeul Judetean Dambovita (the Museum of the County Dambovita) and now is part of the National Museum Ensemble "the Royal Court" of Targoviste. Besides the outdoors museum there is an exhibition dedicated to Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), founder of the fortifications; a lapidarium at the Royal Court's basement built by Petru Cercel and an exhibition of religious art in the great Royal Church.
1. The southern gate.
The entrance, which is still used now, lies under the bell tower built at the end of the 16th century (1584) and then reconstructed in the age of Matei Basarab and Constantin Brancoveanu. The bell tower has the same constructional features as the inside wall of the enclosure (raised by Petru Cercel), to whom he is related organically, not only as a structure, but from its settlement point of view, compared to the frontage wall. The building of the tower was determined by the existence of the church, which didn't have the possibility of accommodating a tower bell in its own steeples.
2. The Royal Palace
2. a. The first royal house.
The first stone construction from the Royal Court and from the town is the one raised by Mircea cel Batran
(Mircea the Old) at the end of the 15th century, close to the south of the church built afterwards by the
same ruler. Only the sides of the cellar made of rolling stone, having the dimensions of 15 x 6 m, and a
long proeminence on the short side have preserved under the house from the 15th century. The access to it
is made from the north side.
Raised in the third-fourth decade of the 15th century and following the model of the one in Arges, it was placed very close to one of the sides of the enclosure wall. Built on a rectangular surface, which measured 32 x 29 m on the outside, the house had a cellar on the entire surface, with four parallel aisles, on which rose the ground floor whith a large hall (about 6 x 12 m) - probably the ceremony hall and the hall of the royal council - placed on the eastern side - and rooms intended for the accomodation of the regnant and his family.2. c. The royal house from the 16th century.
In the year 1584, the waivode Petru Cercel imagined the construction of a building inspired from the composition principles of the palaces he saw during its peregrinations along Europe. The formation of the house and the decoration of the building's frontages are new elements, but we can sense the local tradition induced by the local manufacturers.
The Royal Court built by Petru Cercel, "a small, but beautiful and grand palace", situated near the south side of the first royal house, but completely separated from it, was composed of cellars, the ground floor and one other floor. The cellars, preserved until now in its incipient form, were placed on the axis of the building, having a rectangular shape plane with a 12 m side, divided into four identical sections placed around a massive pillar.
Initially the access was made through an underground arched proeminence of 25 m long and it was placed on the west side. The ground floor sheltered the royal common room and it was constituted of 10 rooms, from which a large one was placed cross-cut at the southern extremity. The floor contained the living chambers of the waivode and his family and it was completely separated from the ground floor. The access to it was possible only from the outside through a staircase situated on the western frontage and there was a direct connection with the great Church through a passage. The houses were covered with enamelled tiles.2. d. The palace from the 17th century.
Matei Basarab finished in 1654 the reconstruction of the royal houses, raising a floor above the house
from the 15th century and connecting it with the new one by a passage linkage, resulting a real palace,
uniform from the architectonical point of view. Destroyed in 1659, the palace is restored by Constantin
Brancoveanu. The vaults and the floors will be renewed and the rooms will be decorated with timber work
The Chapel-Church is the oldest religious structure known in Targoviste until now and it was built along with the first royal house, very close to it, by Mircea cel Batran (Mircea the Old). The church was conceived after a plan influenced by the general features of the triconical type as they appear in the church of the Cozia Monastery, but, unlike the previous raised buildings, a new element appears, namely the elevation of a stoop with a bell tower above on the western extremity. Nowadays the church preserves the consolidated walls of 2 m height, detached in the fourth decade of the 20th century.
4. The Chindia tower
Located in the north-west side of the Royal Court and dominating the entire complex of monuments
from here, the Chindia tower became the town of Targoviste's emblem. Of 27 m tall, it is constituted
of a truncated pyramid shaped base of stone, from which rises a cylindrical strucure made of bricks
whose diameter measures 9 m.
The Chindia tower was built in the second half of the 15th century, during Vlad Tepes's reign, over the porch of the Chapel-Church raised by Mircea cel Batran. Initially the tower was composed of two floors and the access was made through a turn bridge from the first level directly into the next house. The transformations made to this building detains us from establishing the exact original shape, owing its present aspect to the ruler Gheorghe Bibescu who arranged its rehabilitation in the year 1847.5. The Royal Court's fortifications
In the first phase, the ensemble was defended towards the town at the beginning of the 15th century by a large defence entrenchment of 20 m width and 250 m long, afterwards doubled on the inside by a stone wall. In 1584, along with the new structures which tripled the surface of the complex, Petru Cercel builds an eclosure wall provided on the outside with counterforts of triangular plane. After 1640, Matei Basarab doubles it externally with another one, punctured with five entrance towers and provided with guard rooms.6. The Sf. Vineri (St. Friday) Church
It was known until the beginning of the last century under the name "The Little Royal Church". The church came into existence in the year 1517 (according to the memorial inscription in Slavonic from the southern frontage of the church, which mentions Clucer Manea Persanu and his soul mate Vladaia) and it's the only known monument in the Romanian Country's architecture dating from the middle of the 15th century and preserved in its original shape until today.
The plan of the church belongs to the trifoliated type, of elongated shape. The spire is supported by four semicylindrical arches belonging to the first period of the halidom to whom he is organically connected. It shows analogies to the porch of the Chapel-Church which also sustains a bell tower.7. The great Royal Church
An endowment of Petre Cercel (1583-1585), the great Royal Church was built in the year 1584, at the same
time with the Royal Court and next to it. The halidom bears the titular saint "The Virgin Mary's
sleep" and was carried out after the model of the inscribed greek cross type churches. The monument stands
out of the halidoms built at the end of the 16th century by its until then unencountered proportions,
as the rectangle in which is inscribed the external cone measuring 14 x 30 m.
The first painting from the end of the 16th century or beginning of the 17th, partially preserved on the
of the deacon's wall above the altar and on the southern wall of the pronaos was superposed on a second
layer of painting made between 1696-1698 on Constantin Brancoveanu's iniative.
We can find in the great Royal Church the largest gallery of Muntenia rulers' faces, preserved and represented by the votive paintings of the church's pronaos, paintings of a great artistic and documentary interest. Thus the western wall of the pronaos is decorated with the portaits of the waivodes Matei Basarab, Neagoe Basarab, then Constantin Brancoveanu and Petru Cercel (in their places as founders, holding the copy of the church), followed by Mihai Viteazu (it's his first presentation with the crown on his head), Radu Serban, Constantin Carnul, Serban Cantacuzino and Radu Mihnea.
8. Lady Balasa's house
It was built in 1656, in the eastern side of the enclosure, near the church Sfanta Vineri, by the lady Balasa, wife of Constantin Serban. The construction is composed of four rooms (living chambers), put together on a single level, paved with bricks, covered with cross type vaults with splayed edges. According to the memorial inscription from the southern wall, the building was meant "... for the peace of the christians who fall in need..."
9. The Royal Gardens
Situated in the place of the town's current park, in the interspace between the enclosure wall from the eastern side of the Royal Court and the river bed of Ialomita, the royal gardens where made, according to Franco Siveri's information, by the ruler Petru Cercel; he "made beautiful gardens in the italian style in front of the palace". The Royal Court garden reached over the other river bank of Ialomita, until the root of the Monastery's hill with a hunting forest and was surrounded by a wall made of "brick boulders", according to Anton Maria del Chiaro's description. The royal gardens were enlarged by the ruler Constantin Brancoveanu who, in order to better enjoy "the exquisite gardens of the court", builds a pavilion for "watching".10. The Royal Bathroom
Placed on the eastern side of the royal houses, between the enclosure wall from Ialomita's side and the houses, the Royal Bathroom was built during the reign of Matei Basarab. Its plan has rectangular shape and measures 5.50 x 14.7 m on the outside. It's composed of tree rooms placed in a row. There is a small clothes closet in the first room, situated in the north side, which can be accessed from the outside through a door in the western wall. This room is followed by another one, where they actually took the bath. On the southside and with no connection to these two rooms was the room accommodating the boiler and where the fire was made.11. The pavilion in Brancoveanu style
Elevated in wood by Matei Basarab, the pavilion is rebuilt in stonework during the reign of Constantin Brancoveanu. The kiosk is a new element, emerged in the architecture of the ensembles of royal courts and manors from the Romanian Country in the times of Matei Basarab. The ruins can be observed today at about 60 m east of the exterior wall of the Royal Court. It is still preserved on a 0.40 m height and a thickness between 0.87 - 1.15 m and it's made of the brick type we see in others buildings in Brancoveanu style from the royal house.Foreign travellers about the Royal Court (16-18th century)
Franco Sivori, the italian secretary of the ruler Petru Cercel:
"As the month February of 1584 arrived, his Highness decided to change his residence and retire to a town
called Targoviste... The town is enriched with all kind of things, satiated with good water, with wells and
fountains and a lovely river flowed besides the prince's palace. His palace, built by his ancestors has large
proportions and an accurate architecure; it was immediately enlarged by his Highness who added beautiful
and grand chambers.
"It is known that the Court of the Romanian Country's ruler is big and surrounded by a stone wall; a river
flowes besides its end. The church which you can reach through a staircase is very big; it's placed in the
middle of the court. The church is divided into three parts: the external part includes the arcades of
the narthex, then you reach to the second part of the church through a second door, where lies the rulers'
graves, then you enter through a third door in the nave of the church which is a very old hall. There are
high domes above it and it is surrounded by pews.
"30 of April. Today, around 12 o'clock we reached Targoviste where his Highness, along with its suite are received in the ruler's palace. By its shape and pomp, it resembles very much to the one in Bucharest, but this palace surpasses it by a more beautiful garden and by a beautiful stone kiosk inside the garden. They are both harmonious and may stand besides those of the more enlightened christianity... Here was the residence of the regnants until thirty years ago... when the ruler Ghica and its descendants were forced to break it down and move back to Bucharest. But, since five years ago the current ruler received the permission to rebuild it, on the condition of not raising enforcements in that place; therefor... while the prince was organizing again the palace and adorning the gardens, he advised the boyars to build also their houses."The prince Gheorghe Bibescu, 1844:
"... these glorious walls, to escape the claws of that time and to serve as a caressing remembrance of the heroes' earth who found them and as a strong impulse to our descendants to remember who they are and who they can be."Nicolae Balcescu, revolutionist from 1848:
"One single tower, a relic from the famous royal court rises sad and lonely above these stacks of ruins. This tower is treasured by the romanians as a monument which speaks them about their time of glory and greatness. He was a witness to so many triumphs. He saw, one by one, Mircea cel Batran, Dracula-voda, Vlad Tepes, Radu cel Mare, Radu de la Afumati, Mihai Viteazul and Mateiu Basarab, all our great waivodes, famous in times of peace and war."Alexandru Vlahuta, writer, 1899:
"The royal courts, the grand courts from the bank of Ialomita, in which a part so important of our country's history was plotted... But the harsh blizzard of the time blowed, fiercer than the wars and the fire and ravaged the grand courts, and brokedown the walls of the glorious palace in the rooms where no greek prince ever ruled."