Bucharest Surroundings

Mogosoaia Palace

Mogoșoaia Palace is located about 10 km from BucharestRomania. It was built between 1698-1702 by Constantin Brâncoveanu in what is called the Romanian Renaissance style or Brâncovenesc style, a combination of Venetian and Ottoman elements. The palace bears the name of the widow of the Romanian boyar Mogoș, who owned the land it was built on. The Palace was to a large extent rebuilt in the 1920s by Marthe Bibesco.

The Palace had been given to Princess Marthe Bibesco by her husband, Prince George Bibesco, who later also deeded the land to her. She spent all her wealth from the many books she wrote in its reconstruction and it became the meeting place for politicians and international high society, a quiet retreat during the growing turmoil of the 1930s. Prince George died in 1941 and was buried in the small, white 1688 church on the grounds of the Palace.

The Palace is now a popular tourist destination, but although the grounds and gardens are beautiful, the interior of the palace itself is under reconstruction and presently houses a museum and art gallery. (Muzeul de Artă Brâncovenească)

During the second world war, Prince Antoine Bibesco (a cousin of George Bibesco) and his wife Elizabeth Bibesco, refused to flee the country despite their outspoken anti-fascist opinions. Elizabeth spent considerable time during these years visiting Marthe Bibesco at Mogoșoaia and when Elizabeth died of pneumonia on April 7, 1945 she was buried in the Bibesco family vault on the grounds of Mogoșoaia. It may surprise visitors to see her grave here with its poignant epitaph in English – “My soul has gained the freedom of the night”.

Neither Elizabeth Bibesco”s husband, Antoine, nor George Bibesco”s wife, Marthe, could be buried beside them, as they both died during the Communist regime.

 Snagov Monastery

The village of Snagov is a short jog north of Bucharest and may be a worthwhile trip for any Dracula enthusiasts. The most notable feature is the lake, in the center of which is located an island. On this island is a 16th century monastery . . . and in the monastery—you guessed it—is the tomb of Vlad the Impaler.

What setting could be more perfect for the grave of one of history’s spookiest personalities?

Located on the only island on Snagov lake, the monastery is a very old religious site founded in the early 15th century. The location of the monastery is well known because it is believed to be the burial place of Vlad the Impaler, better known as the inspiration for Irish author Bram Stoker”s character Dracula in his 1897 novel. The monastery once housed the coin minting facility of the medieval principality Wallachia and in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, one of the most important printing houses in South-Eastern Europe was located on the island.

The Legend of Snagov:

In one version of the story, Vlad the Impaler was murdered in a nearby forest, and the monks of the monastery took it upon themselves to inter the villain. Perhaps the monks felt indebted to Vlad for the additions he insisted be added to their abode—most bizarrely, a prison and a torture chamber. Whatever the reasons, the monks dressed the body richly and put it to rest in front of the church alter.

The Mystery of Snagov Monastery:

Less romantically, there are some arguments against the body in the tomb being that of the real Vlad. While Vlad did request to be buried at the monastery, some say that it was another nobleman who was placed in this tomb.