Mogoșoaia Palace, example or Romanian Renaissance in architecture

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

Two centuries after the Italian Renaissance and at a much lower scale, Romanian County experienced its own period of blooming arts. Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu assumed the role of “The Magnificent” Lorenzo de Medici as protector of arts, commissioner of great buildings and patron of a new original style in architecture that bears his name. And going along with the comparison, the palace of Mogoșoaia was for Bucharest what the Medici Palace was for Florence.

Brâncoveanu is best known for his monasteries, like Horezu and Sâmbăta de Sus, and on the domain of Mogoșoaia he also built first a church, than the actual palace, defense walls and outbuildings. It is a small church, dedicated to saint George. In 1702, next to the church was built the palace, that was at the time the most spectacular building in the country. Unfortunately, the prince could only enjoy it for a little over a decade, until 1714, when he was was publicly executed at sultan’s order in Istanbul, together with his male descendants, for not renouncing Christian faith.
A long turbulent history followed for the palace in three centuries in which it was sacked, partially destroyed, occupied, restored and finally given a new life as a museum.

The domain is just 15 km NW of Bucharest and includes a vast park, a lake and a small forest with places for rest and picnic. Right next to the main palace there is also a classy traditional restaurant.
Though Brâncoveanu died as a martyr and built several churches before that, his life was nothing less than that of an Oriental ruler. The banquets amazed foreign visitors who remember, for instance, that there were so many plates served at a dinner, that by the end of the feast, the guests could barely see each other behind them, even when standing to make a toast.

Unfortunately we can only imagine how luxurious the interiors must have been, back in their royal days. We can still see fragments of interior architecture of great taste, but most of the objects come from private donations and other museums.
The architecture of the palace, known as „brâncovenesc style” or Romanian architecture, is a combination of local folkloric traditions with Ottoman and European influences. The side of the building facing the lake is influenced by Venetian architecture. Not only the two sculpted lions and the water remember the city on the lagoon. But, more important, the loggia, with its six white stone columns and five arches.

A similar style can be seen in the monumental staircases in front or the observation tower above the gate.
A completely different style is employed in the outside kitchen of the palace, that can be easily mistaken to be a church. The small towers are not spires but chimneys. The reason why the kitchen was built outside the main building was that fires in the kitchen were among the most common reasons for destruction of buildings back then.

The palace itself was turned into an inn after the Turks executed the prince. But his family redeemed the domain, which was once even a wedding gift. The one who received it was the writer Martha Bibescu, who did an excellent job restoring the building after the destruction in the first world war.

During communism, when it was nationalized, the palace was used by writers, as the state regarded them as essential for propaganda. Famous writers like Antoine de Saint-Exupery visited it during that time.
Today, the domain is open to the public, as one of the most charming and well maintained places around Bucharest.

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