Mogosoaia Palace: The Legacy of a Great Prince
Mogosoaia Palace easily passes as one of the most beautiful monuments around Bucharest. With a history that goes back more than 300 years, including some of the greatest families in the history of Southern Romania, the palace and its vast gardens are an excellent weekend destination.
From glory to ruins
The story of the palace begins before it was built, in 1680, when a rich and powerful political and noble man, Constantin Brancoveanu, buys the large property in order to build a residence for his second son, Stefan. The palace is done by 1702 when Constantin Brancoveanu was already the prince of Southern Romania. Extremely important in terms of political, economic, but especially cultural development, the rule of Constantin Brancoveanu ended tragically in 1714 when he was executed together with his four sons by the Ottoman Empire. His legacy is astonishing even if today only few of the many churches, monasteries and palaces built during his time are still standing.
Soon after the beheading of the prince, the palace of Mogoaia, with its luxurious decorations and interior painted walls, was devastated and robbed by the Ottoman armies. Recovered years later by the widow of the prince, the palace was only a ruin, and continued to be a target even in the following years for the Ottoman Empire. Through a dramatic matrimonial alliance, the palace eventually went into the property of another noble family, Bibescu. Its heirs will try to restore the monument, adding on the way their own changes.
Renovation and nationalization
It’s only when Martha Bibescu, a talented writer and one of the richest and most elevated women of Romania, received Mogosoaia palace as a gift from her adventurous husband that the most ample renovation works actually began. This long and complicated process started before the First World War and ended only in 1935, although princess Martha Bibescu started living in the palace a few years before, transforming it into one of the trendiest aristocratic residencies from this part of Europe.
Faithful to the original plans of the palace and invested with all the importance of her ancestors, Martha Bibescu was the one who transformed a ruin into a veritable work of art of the Brancovenesc style, a key architectural theme developed centuries before by Prince Constantin Brancoveanu. Essentially a unique combination of local, Byzantine, Italian and Baroque elements, this architectural style is very elegant and well-balanced, using rich decorations for its rock carved columns and porches. The renovation process led by young architect GM Cantacuzino emphasizes this particular architectural legacy.
As all other private property in Romania, the palace was confiscated in 1948 by the communist authorities, and Martha Bibescu was forced to leave the country. The palace functioned as a museum ever since, and visiting it is a great chance to admire its precious floors, hand-carved doors and vaulted ceilings. You can also visit the basement where a permanent exhibition is dedicated to the demolished Vacaresti Monastery, the former kitchen, the ice house and, of course, you should go on the balcony of the entry tower for a panoramic view over the property. Don’t forget to step inside the 17th century church located right outside the gate. Built by the same Constantin Brancoveanu as a chapel for his family, the small church is also done in the Brancovenesc style.
One of the loveliest attractions around Bucharest, just some 30 minutes from the busy capital, the palace of Mogosoaia is the go to place for spending a few hours in a completely different world. Don’t forget to pack a blanket and a picnic basket to fully enjoy your time at Mogosoaia Palace.
The park of the palace is open for the public. It’s a great place to have a summer picnic or to enjoy a Sunday outdoors.
In May, the garden of the palace is fully purple from the many iris flowers in bloom.