Mogoșoaia-On Lake Mogoșoaia (66 ha), 15 km from Bucharest, stands one of the most beautiful Brâncoveanu-era buildings-the Mogoșoaia Palace (1702).
The Mogoșoaia Palace
The edifice, rectangular in shape, built after the Potlogi palace model (Dambovița County, 40 km from Bucharest). It combines elements of Wallachian, Byzantine, oriental (Ottoman) and italian Renaissance styles; due to its decorative richness, the Brâncoveanu style (or Romanian Renaissance) was said to be the Romanian Baroque.
The facades of the palace show clear Venetian architectural influences (for instance, the loggia with five trefoil arches resting on six neo-Corinthian pillars pointing at the lake). An exterior stone staircase leads to the balcony located in the middle of the facade towards the palace courtyard. The servants’ quarters were found on the ground floor, the large chambers of the royal family and the reception halls were on the first floor. A Lapidary has been set up in the basement, where a vaulted cellar is now found.
The Palace Courtyard
To reach the Palace Courtyard you go under an arched gate, on top of which there is a watch tower-a wonderful belvedere point. In the vast courtyard, with its gravel paths, lawns and ornamental trees, open-airshows, concerts and festivals are organised. Beside there is the royal kitchen-which hosts exhibitions, conferences and film projections- the ice house and the guest house. On the lake’s shore, guarded by two stone lions, the restored Brâncoveanu-style columns stand next to a hedge maze, in a French garden style.
Saint George Church-Mogoșoaia
Outside the Palace Courtyard, next to the English park, stands Saint George Church. The first to be built on the grounds (1688), as a chapel for the court; it retains its original interior painting from 1705 (the votive painting in the narthex is especially valuable).
After 1714 (when Brâncoveanu and his four sons were beheaded by the Turks for having refused to convert to Islam). The palace remained uninhabited and was plundered, being later turned into an inn by the Turks. Later on, in the 19 th century, it was taken over by the Bibescu family, offspring of the Brâncoveanu family. On the east side of the courtyard, Prince Nicolae Bibescu built the Elchingen Villa for his wife, Helene d’Elchingen. The Elchingen Villa is currently housing a modern conference and accommodation centre, a restaurant seating 120 people and a hotel.
Marta Bibescu, George Valentin Bibescu’s wife restored the estate after 1912,making radical changes. This happened with the help of the architects Domenico Rupolo and George Matei Cantacuzinio. The funeral monument of the Bibescu family is found in the palace park, not far from the flower conservatory.
Nowadays, the ensemble has been turned into the Brâncoveanu Palaces at the Gates of Bucharest Cultural Centre-Mogoșoaia. The rooms host a permanent display of the art collection donated by Liana and Dan Nasta, as well as temporary exhibitions by Romanian artists.
It is an ideal destination for a day trip, particularly given that the palace park, with its many creeks, green and picnic areas, offers a pleasant breeze in summer. The complex also includes a bicycle hire centre and water sports centre.
Do not miss out in April-May the purple blanket of irises in Princess Martha Bibescu’s garden, which alongside the blooming chestnut trees make the place otherworldly.