The Old Princely Court
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The Princely Court and its surroundings represent the original hearth of the city. The settlement of the Prince and his court in the citadel on the banks of the Dambovita river triggered the growth in population and in needs, caused by the presence of the Prince and his family, the accompanying boyars and their families and attendants. Consequently, merchants and craftsmen settled in the nearby, and thus the Princely Court became the nucleus around which Bucharest grew and developed.
The oldest princely residence in Bucharest was most probably founded in the late 14th century, but the first recorded document about a fortress (or a princely palace) in this place is dated September 20, 1459, issued by Prince Vlad III Dracula -the terrible prince commonly referred to as Tepes, “The Impaler”, whose bust today watches over the vestiges of his palace.
Due to frequent changes of Princes, and to the preference shown by some of them to the former voivodal residence Targoviste, the princely palace of Bucharest remained rather neglected until the reign of Matei Basarab, who at the mid 17th century rebuilt it entirely, transforming it into “an amazingly elegant building with a delightful aspect”. Prince Constantin Brancoveanu later repaired and embellished it, paying a special attention to the gardens. The Court, which included the palace, the church, princely chancelleries, treasury, reception halls and famous gardens, stretched over a much larger area, eastward reaching as far as Calea Mosilor and Baratiei street.
Unfortunately, a fire and an earthquake in the first half of the 18th century heavily damaged the Princely Court which was subsequently abandoned. Slowly it fell into ruin, and eventually the land was divided into plots and auctioned. Presently the vestiges of Wallachian princes residence, the remaining 17th and 18th century vaults and walls, were set up as a museum.