Mogosoaia Palace: The Architectural 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, part of the lives of 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 Mogosoaia Palace begins before it was built, in 1680, when a rich aristocrat, Constantin Brancoveanu, bought the large property in order to build a residence for his second son, Stefan. The palace was completed 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 order of the Ottoman sultan. His legacy is astonishing even if today only a 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. Regained only many years later by the widow of the prince, Mogosoaia Palace was just a ruin, and continued to be attacked even in the following years by the Ottoman Empire. Through a dramatic matrimonial alliance, the palace eventually went into the property of another noble family, Bibescu.
Renovation and nationalization
It’s only when Martha Bibescu, a rich aristocrat and talented writer, received Mogosoaia Palace as a gift from her adventurous husband that the amplest renovation works actually began. This long and complicated process started before the First World War and ended only in 1935, although 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, an architectural theme developed centuries before by Prince Constantin Brancoveanu. An original 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 the young architect G.M.Cantacuzino emphasized perfectly the features of this architectural legacy, making the palace again one of the highlights of the ‘Brancovenesc’ style.
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 and the ice house. Don’t miss the small chapel of the Bibescu family from the park, the balcony of the gate tower for a panoramic view over the property and the 17th-century church. 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 away from the busy capital, the palace of Mogosoaia is the ideal place for spending a few hours in a completely different world. Pack a blanket and a picnic basket to fully enjoy your time at Mogosoaia Palace.
The park of the palace is also open to the public. It’s a great place to have a summer picnic.
In May, the garden of the palace is purple from the many iris flowers in bloom. It’s the perfect time to visit.
For visiting hours, check palatebrancovenesti.ro