joi, 15 noiembrie 2012

 5 reasons to visit  Curtea de Arges

If you go from Bucharest to Sibiu one option is crossing the mountains through Transfagarasan, a spectacular  road in the mountains, crowned by international jury to be one of the most spectacular worldwide. Shortly before the mountains, you drive through Curtea de Arges.
In Curtea de Arges everything happens on the main street, the long Bulevard Basarab Ist

This town could seem insignificant and not worthing a visit, being similar with other grey sad meaningless Romanian towns. But the true is very different, even on the contrary: Curtea De Arges needs your time and attention, even if it doesn't ask for them!

First of all, a reason is the wonderful position, in the middle of the hills. You can already see the mountains, and feel them, sometimes there is a strong breeze in the town. Curtea de Arges has a clean mountain air and a special flair. On the near hills there are orchard and forests, you might have the opportunity to find here by the locals (no chance in supermarkets) tasty fruit jams and marmelades. Really unbelievable the huge difference of taste between these genuine products and what you can find in the international. supermarkets!
The breattaking Bishop's Church and Monastery from Curtea de Arges attracts any eye with its twisted towers

Another reason to pay a visit in Curtea de Arges is the simple fact, that this towns is one of the oldest in Romania. It was grounded in the VIIIth century, and strongly decayed  afterwards.  But in the XIVth century Basarab I, the grounder of Wallachia, manages to rebuild it and makes it the Capital of the new state. The town flourishes due to the trade with Sibiu, over the mountains. The ruins of the former Princely Court can still be seen in the downtown. The growth and the wealthy of Curtea de Arges lasted 2 centuries only, because in the XVIth century the Capital of Wallachia has been moved first in Targoviste, and then to Bucharest.
The Princely Church St.Nicholas from Curtea de Arges in the old Court.

Curtea de Arges hosts a few Medieval churches, which are among the most beautiful in Romania, real masterpieces. Two of them are not to be missed: The Bishop's Church and Monastery, and the Royal Church St. Nicholas.

The Bishop's Church was founded at 1512 by the ruler Neagoe Basarab, and accomplished by his follower Radu de la Afumati. Very isolated, almost hidden between leaves, the church is very compact and attractive, due to its twisted towers.  You'll need some time to observe all the oriental  ornaments, birds and plants. These ornaments will be repeated inside, on the floor, or when you will discover the breathtaking twelve columns (after entering a superb door). The church has also other ornaments, Venice mosaics, which have been partially destroyed by an earthquake and moved to the National Art Museum in Bucharest. The French architect Lecomte de Nouy renovated the church at 1875, replacing the mosaics with modern paintings, mainly golden. The church serves also as royal cemetery: here in the church sleep are buried the founders Neagoe basarab and radu de la Afumati, but also the King Ferdinand I and the Queen Maria, King Carol I and the Queen Elisabeth .
The original painting of 1352 in the Royal Church

Not very far is the Manole's fountain with a vey interesting legend.. Manole was the master who build the church, and observed more times that the wall collapsed. Desperately, he took the decision to insert in the building walls the first person who will come . Unfortunately for him, it was even his beloved wife! Shortly, the church has been terminated, and the work was not seen before, due to the special secrets of Manole. But the ruler did not accept that other personalities could enjoy similar churches, and took the decision to take manole as a prisoner, inside the church. Trying to escape by air, similar to Icarus, he collapsed and died. Where he falled emerged a water source and was build this fountain!

Curtea de Arges is nowadays a very long town, build mainly on Bulevardul Basarab, where you can find all important attractions: banks, hotels and restaurants, pastry shops, everything is here. Even a statue of Basarab I is on this boulevard, of course. Next to the statue, the princely church St. Nicholas, build even by this ruler, and restored in1750. the byzantine structure of Wallachia's oldest building is untouched. The painting are the original ones, but still very living, in an excellent shape. The founder is buried here, of course, and the former Court is near the Church.

I think you never thought to find so many things in a small town like Curtea de Arges. It definitively deserves one day from your time. From Curtea de Arges you can go to Sibiu, or to Pitesti, or Bucharest.

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