Targoviste Fortress is one of the most important medieval monuments in Romania. With a history that goes back to the 15th century, this former princely court was used as a residence by some of the most famous princes of Southern Romania, including Constantin Brancoveanu and the legendary Vlad the Impaler who built the emblematic Chindia Tower.
Targoviste was the capital of Southern Romania in the medieval centuries before Bucharest achieved this status. The princely court was mentioned starting with 1417-1418 in a document of Michael the 1st, the son of Prince Mircea the Old who built here a church in 1415. During this initial stage, the fortress was rather small, surrounded by a wooden defense wall. It’s Vlad Dracul who extended and modernized the court to the standards of a princely residence, fortified against enemy attacks.
His son, the famous Vlad the Impaler built around 1460 the Tower of Chindia, restored hundreds of years later to its current look, a 27 meters high tower with three floors connected by a winding staircase, plus an open terrace on the last level. The tower hosts today an exhibition focused on the life and reign of Vlad the Impaler.
By the end of the 16th century, Prince Petru Cercel built the Great Church, a new palace and fortified the court that reached an overall surface of 29,000 square meters. The last major restoration and period of glory took place during the reign of Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714) who connected the two existing palaces, added the stone kiosk and the royal children’s house and had the Great Church repainted. After his tragic death, the princely court from Targoviste was permanently abandoned in favor of the Old Court from Bucharest. This decision marked the decay of the monument that ended up in ruins.
Start with a walk up to Chindia Tower, the symbol of the princely court of Targoviste. A view from the tower’s balcony will give you a panoramic perspective over the entire court, especially on the ruins of the two princely palaces — from the 16th century and the 17th century — you can explore afterward. From the balcony, you can also observe the contour of the church dated back to 1415.
After walking around what remains of the palace, visit the two churches that still stand centuries after they were built. The small Holly Friday Church is located close to Asylum built by Lady Balasa. Not as impressive as the Great Princely Church, this is, however, the only monument built in the 15th century in Southern Romania still conserved in its original form.
Close to the princely palace, once connected by a direct corridor, stands the Great Princely Church, a remarkable religious and historical medieval monument. Built by Petru Cercel between 1583 and 1585, the church has a Greek cross plan and impressive dimensions for that time. Completely repainted by Constantinos at the end of the 17th century, the church still preserves these beautiful frescoes extremely rich in details. The greatest gallery of Wallachian princes, nine in total, is painted on the narthex walls.
Once a prosperous and important princely court, Targoviste Fortress is one of the few medieval monuments that still exists in Southern Romania. Less than two hours drive from Bucharest, this landmark is more than worth a day trip from the capital. Visit also Poenari Fortress, Curtea de Arges Monastery and Potlogi Palace for a complete day.
A few meters from the Holly Friday Church, you can visit the Museum of the Printing Press and Old Books. The collections include an 18th-century printing press as well as numerous old manuscripts.
Visit also the Brancovenesc Palace from Potlogi, 50 km away from Targoviste.
For the visiting schedule, check www.muzee-dambovitene.ro