Europe > Balkans > Romania > Muntenia > Mountainous North (Muntenia) > Curtea de Argeș
Curtea de Argeș is on the Argeș River in Argeș county, in the historic region of Muntenia. It was the first capital of Wallachia and retains the most important Byzantine buildings on the territory of Romania, including the Princely Church, a 14th-century monument on the UNESCO tentative list. An important political and economic center during the medieval age, the importance of Curtea de Argeş fell after the relocation of Wallachia's capital to Târgoviște but regained its prestige during the interwar period with the designation of the cathedral of the Curtea de Arges monastery as a royal necropolis by Carol I.
The nearest airports are Bucharest Otopeni (OTP IATA) 162 km away, Craiova (CRA IATA) 151 km away and Sibiu (SBZ IATA) 149 km away - see those pages for flight options. If you fly in and hire a car, none of those transfers are difficult
There is 1 direct train daily from Pitești, 2 per day.
The 1 Curtea de Argeș Royal Railway Station is 2 km S of the Curtea de Argeș Monastery, next to the bus station.
Direct buses to Pitești (30 minutes), Bucharest (1.3 hours), Brașov (2.4 hours), Câmpulung (1 hour) or Râmnicu Vâlcea (45 minutes); but the times may be erratic.
- 1 [dead link] Curtea de Argeș Monastery (Mănăstirea Curtea de Argeș). One of the most famous medieval architectural monuments in Wallachia. It was founded by Prince Neagoe Basarab between 1515 and 1517.
- 2 Episcopal Palace (Palatul Episcopal). Built in 1896, the episcopal church erected in 1885. The Episcopal Palace, built in an original architectural style, is provided with a chapel where the relics of Saint Philofteia can be found. The walls of Manole Hall are adorned with paintings that depict the legend of the skillful builder in pictures. A French-style park is built around the Curtea de Arges Monastery and in front of the Episcopal Palace.
- 3 [dead link] Norocea House (Casa Norocea), Str. Stefanescu Victor, nr.8, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. The Romanian-style building was built between 1922-1923 by Dumitru Norocea, a painter and restorer of the frescoes of the Princely Church. Today, the building hosts the ethnography section of the Municipal Museum, and upstairs an exhibition of painter's paintings and objects that belonged to him.
- 4 Curtea de Argeș City Museum (Muzeul Municipal Curtea de Argeș), Str. Negru Voda Nr. 2. Tu-Su 09:00-16:00. Features ethnography and history.
- 5 Curtea de Arges City Museum. Ethnography and Folk Art Department (Muzeul Municipal Curtea de Argeș. Secția de Etnografie și Artă Populară).
- 6 The Princely Church Saint Nicholas (Biserica Domnească Sfântul Nicolae), Strada Negru Vodă 2. Built by Prince Basarab I (1310 - 1352), completed in 1352, within the 13th-century voivodal residence. The church, a monument in Greek cross, inscribed, of a complex type, is one of the most representative monuments of the medieval Romanian architecture, being the oldest voivodal establishment in Wallachia. The interior paintings, particularly valuable, are made in 1364 - 1369.
- 7 Manole's Well (Fântâna lui Manole). According to the legend, when the emperor saw the magnificents building of Curtea de Argeș Monastery asked the 10 craftsmen working on its walls whether they could build an even nicer building. The craftsmen said yes, and in order to prevent this the emperor ordered the dismantling of the scaffolds leaving the craftsmen on the roof. The latter produced wing of shingle and jumped, but they all parished.The place where Manole has fallen gave birth to a spring, the Manole well. People say that sometimes a white sparkling fog rises from Manole well towards the monastery.
- 8 Ruins of Sân Nicoară Church (Ruinele Bisericii Sân Nicoară). The ruins recall a place of worship in the first half of the 14th century, perhaps even earlier, by the famous Doamna Clara, the mother of the prince of Wallachia, Vlaicu-Voda.
The edifice has significantly contributed to understanding the style of building at the end of early feudalism through its walls, made from indigenous materials, showing an alternation of three-row rows of brick rocks with apparent bricks. Above the tendency, a brick tower that served as a bell tower (now half-demolished) was raised gracefully, also used as an observation post, probably signaling the proximity of the enemies to the last refuge of the Romanian princes, 25 km far away: the Poienari Fortress.
- 9 [dead link] Olari Church (Biserica Olari) (from the Curtea de Argeş Museum/Princely Church (the two objectives are just across the street), you can walk to the Olari Church on Cuza Voda Street (Strada Cuza Vodă), walking distance within a 10-minute walk). A modest, rustic-looking monument, featuring various original architectural elements and masonry. The construction plan, different from that of the Wallachian architecture - with the bell tower glued to the main body of the building - reminds tourists of some Moldavian builders from the time of Stephen the Great. Viewed from the outside, the cult site built before 1687 on the site of a 16th-century church can surprise through the harmony of its proportions, through the shingle roof, through the upper façade with a rich ornamentation painted and covered by the outer wooden staircase by an eagle that leads to the bell room.
- 10 Brad-Batușari Church. Built in 1583 by the prince of Wallachia Petru Cercel (1583-1585), is a modest monument with rectangular shape and was finished at the east with an apse and a wooden bell tower. The church, built of river boulders mixed with brick, without external paintings and covered with slate, belonged to the guild of "batușari", saxons as origin, and was completely restored at the end of the nineteenth century, losing its former appearance.
- 11 [dead link] Poienari Castle. A Wallachian castle usually associated with Vlad III Dracula. It is located near the village of Capataneni, 20 minutes north, at the beginning of the spectacular Transfagarasan high altitude highway (road DN 7C); the castle is perched precariously on the top of a steep, forested mountain. According to legend, this is the castle that Vlad Dracula forced the nobles of Targoviste to build (or more specifically to reinforce, because the castle was clearly built long before Vlad's birth). This castle is not close to a village, so the recommended way to get there is to rent a car or maybe hitchhike. There is parking space available next to the road at the foot of the mountain, near the river. The fortress is accessible by climbing close to 1500 steps. To get to the castle by car, drive north on National Road 7C past the few small villages until you hit the hydroelectric power plant. Then, look up! You can't miss it. The beginning of the steps is near to the food stand next to the road. There are wonderful views of the valleys and forested mountains in the surroundings from the castle, and of the nearby villages and the imposing ruin.
- 12 Vidraru Dam (Barajul Vidraru) (can be reached on 7C National Road from Curtea de Arges - Arefu and from Sibiu on DN1 to Cârtişoara, from where the road continues on Transfăgărăşan. From Sibiu - Cârtişoara you can reach the Vidraru Dam only during June-October, during the rest of the year this section is closed.). It was put into service in 1966. At that time it was in the first five arches in Europe, 166.6 meters high. The Vidraru Dam is the largest arch in Romania.
The construction of the Vidraru Dam began in 1961, and during this period, the hydroelectric power plant at Argeş was also built.
The dam was not filled until December 1965. Vidraru Accumulation Lake was born between the flanks of Fruntea and Ghiţu Mountains. This lake is home to the waters of the River Capra, Buda and its affluent River Doamnei, Cernatul and Vâlsanul, Topologul, Valea lui Stan and Limpedea. The total area of the Vidraru reservoir is 870 hectares, the length is 14 km, and the maximum width is 2,2 km in the Valea Lupului - Valea Călugăriței.
The hydroelectric plant, named until 1989 Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, was designed at that time to be run even from Bucharest. The underground station of the plant, 104 meters below the level of evil, is the "jewel" that boasts those who have been participating for years in the development of the Vidraru Complex. There is the large hall of machines where five people work in each of the five shifts. They oversee everything related to the entire hydropower process. The control center is deeply dug into the mountain. About three quarters of a million cubic meters of earth were excavated.
- 13 Tutana Monastery (Mănăstirea Tutana) (a deviation of 7 km to DN7C). Tutana Monastery, situated on the outskirts of the village with the same name, located 17 km southwest of Curtea de Arges, is the patron saint of Atanasie Athos. The period between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century represents the monument to the construction of the first Tutana Church, with architecture similar to that of Vodița, Tismana and the Stella Church in Targoviste. On the place of today's monastery, in the fourteenth century there was a monastery of monks.
- 14 The "Cure Springs" Church (Biserica ”Izvoarele de leac”). The "Cure Springs" Church is located in the village of Vâlcelele-Crampotani. It was erected on the site of seven springs, whose water is said to be healing. Local elders tell about miraculous healings that have taken place over time.
The legend says that himself, the prince of Wallachia, Mircea the Elder, retreated during these struggles, where the waters strengthened and energized his army, and then defeated Ottoman Empire's army.
The place where the church is located is rather a complex of springs, trots and small orthodox chapels stretching out on the hill called "Valea Radului". Orally transmitted from generation to generation in the form of local traditions, legends about this place are many. The seven healing springs among the trees are scattered around the Church. Moreover, within a radius of one kilometer around the church, the rule of silence is maintained.
The road climbs to an altitude of 2,042 m (6,699 ft), making it the second highest mountain pass in Romania after the Transalpina. Being a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents, it is both an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts. In a segment of the British TV show Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson proclaimed that the Transfăgărășan was "the best road in the world", a title the presenters had previously given to the Stelvio Pass in Italy.
The road is usually closed from late October until late June because of snow. Depending on the weather, it may remain open until as late as November, or may close even in the summer; signs at the town of Curtea de Argeș and the village of Cartisoara provide information.
There are several hiking trails near Curtea de Arges. To begin and end such a route, it takes many hours, maybe two days. Generally, these trails are not in great difficulty, but require a lot of endurance and, of course, a map of the area. The tourist potential of this area is and will remain enormous. The mountain offers mountain trails, mountaineering and other such touristic-sports activities
- 1 Valea lui Stan Canyon (Canionul Valea lui Stan). Longest canyon in Romania, good for adrenaline lovers.
- 1 Hotel Posada, Bulevardul Basarabilor 27-29, ☏ .
- 2 Pensiunea Geostar, Strada Negru Vodă 87A, ☏ .
- 3 [dead link] Pensiunea Montana, Bulevardul Basarabilor 72, ☏ .
- 4 Casa Domnească, Strada Plopiș 3, ☏ .
- 5 Vila Ariana, Strada Castanelor 12, ☏ .
- 6 Pensiunea Mikelis International, intrarea din str.Decebal, Strada Negru Vodă 20, ☏ .
- 7 Hotel Dacia, Strada Albești 78, ☏ .
- 8 Hotel Camino, Strada Negru Vodă 5, ☏ .
- 9 Pensiunea Eden, Strada Negru Vodă 153, ☏ .
- 10 Pensiunea Ioana, Strada Negru Vodă 102, ☏ .
- 11 [dead link] Pensiunea Ruxi, Strada Negru Vodă 104, ☏ .
- 12 Pensiunea Cristiana, Strada Ștefan Cel Mare 17, ☏ .
- 13 [dead link] Pensiunea Clasic, Strada Eroilor 17, ☏ .
Do not feed the wildlife. Romania is home to 6,000 brown bears, or 60% of the European bear population. At one point in 2017, authorities declared the 1,480 steps up to the ruins of Poenari Castle off limits until they could remove a mama bear and her three cubs; police blamed tourists for leaving food which attracts the animals.
- Pitesti is about 20 km away.
- Ștefănești - another important historical town in the area
- Bucharest, Ploiesti and Targoviste are also quite close by.
- Sibiu can be reached by the scenic Transfagarasan and Transalpina mountain roads.