Manuc's Inn and Old Princely Court, Bucharest
Inns like this were common during Ottoman rule, in Bucharest however only this one survived. Halul lui Manuc (Manuc's Inn) was finished in the early 19th century. In 1812, the peace treaty of the Russo-Turkish war was signed in this building. It saw other high-category political meetings and for a short time in 1842, the city government was installed here as well. The two floor galleries as well as the thatched roof are the characteristic features. Though it has been used as an inn ever since, the communist years – from 1949 on when it was nationalised - were marked by neglection and resulted in a larger refurbishment in 1992. The place is currently (2013) being refurbished to become an upmarket inn again. As of now, this also means that the building is nice to look at, but the inner court is a partly inaccessible construction site.
The old court was turned into a museum which is currently (2013) being refurbished. Right now, there's almost nothing to see beside some basement rooms, but it was closed at the time of my visit. I did not get the impression that it was worth a visit anyway. However, it's worth to get a look at the backyard from Strada Franceza. In the meanwhile, you can only get an impression of how it may looked like. The old court is a 15th century red brick building complex and was used as the see of Vlad Tepes (better known as “Dracula”). It was destroyed by a fire in 1718 (and further by an earthquake in 1738) and finally replaced by a new court in 1775. By the way, that one was destroyed in the 19th century by a fire as well. A bust of Vlad Tepes can be seen fro Strada Franceza. The rest consists of ruins.
Across the street from Curtea Veche Church there is Hanul lui Manuc (Manuc’s Inn, at the end of Franceza Street), the only typical Turkish caravanserai which has survived in Bucharest with its original purpose. Manuc Bei, an important merchant of the time, raised, in the first decade of the 19th century, this famous inn on an area that had used to belong to the Princely Court. The building has one floor and a column way on the inside. In 1812 the peace agreement between Russia and Turkey was signed here. Nowadays the inn still serves for its original purpose, hosting a small hotel, a restaurant, a wine cellar and several bars along the first floor column way.
Note: As the ownership changed (thank God for that!), they have closed it down for restoration (not as much needed as a desperately required change of staff if ever one can call those total frauds "hotel/restaurant staff"). I hope to come back with good news and a recommendation for serving dinner there (which hasn't been the case for half a century by now).
On Unirea Square side of the building, there are a couple of bars, of which the largest and possibly most popular is the Cafeneaua Bucurestiului d'Altadat'. Created by a company that started in Brasov with a similar venue, this place has become increasingly popular because of its prime location. I for one do not like it. Service is slow and the place is (very) smoky. As for the food, it could do better - on the traditional side that is.
Update: summer 2010 - Building is under renovation and closed for visits
Manuc's Inn is the best preserved of Bucharest's old inns. It was built around 1808 to shelter travelling merchants. The inn is also one of Bucharest's historical building. Its owner, an influential Armenian called Emanuel Marzaian (better know as Manuc Bey hence the name of the place) offered the building for the signing in 1812 of the treaty that ended the Russo-Turkish war and resulted in the gain of Bessarabia by Russia. The treaty is known as the Treaty of Bucharest (1812). The building has the two tier galleries featured by the caravanserais that were common all over the Otoman Empire. Today, Manuc's Inn functions as a hotel-restaurant and winecellar.
Curtea Veche, the Old Princely Court, also known as Voievodal Palace, is where Bucharest was founded. It was the palace of the rulers of Wallachia. Vlad Ţepeş built a stone fortress here between 1468 and 1459. It was enlarged by Mircea Ciobanu, during whose reign, the cellars, which you can see today, were built. Admission is only 2 lei.
Manuc's Inn is the best preserved of Bucharest's old inns. It was built around 1808 to host travelling merchants. Its owner was a rich Armenian called Emanuel Marzaian, also know as Manuc Bey, hence the name. The inn was used for the signing in 1812 of the Treaty of Bucharest, which ended the Russo-Turkish war.
The building has a large central courtyard surrounded by two tier galleries, typical of the caravanserais of the 19th century Ottoman Empire. Today, Manuc's Inn is a hotel and restaurant.
The Hanul lui Manuc is an oasis of quiet, only minutes away from the busy Piata Unirii.
It has been there for ever. enjoy the courtyard in the summer or the cellar bar, in the winter, but check your bill. Prices may be given per 100 grammes, not portion, and the wine might be switched for a different vintage at a different price. Silly really because it ruins the reputation for a short term gain, but that's Romania for you.
At the end of the 14th century, Mircea the Old, Wallachia's ruling prince, built a fortress with a dungeon and a defense moat.
Vlad the Impaler (1456-1462; 1476), who mentioned Bucharest for the first time in a written document in 1459, extended the princely residence to about 700 sq. m., building large cellars.
After a century, Mircea Ciobanul (Mircea the Shepherd, 1545-1554; 1558-1559) turn the old fortress into a real princely residence by changing its original structure, and by adding a chancellery, a guard house, stables, a recreation pavilion and a church that can be seen even today, being the oldest church from Bucharest.
By the end of the 17th century, the Princely Court was the largest medieval ensemble in Wallachia, being inhabited and modified by other Romanian rulers like Matei Basarab, Serban Cantacuzino an Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714). This last ruler turned the Princely Court into a piece of art by adding wall paintings, marb le stairs, a stone pavilion standing on stone pillars, a watch tower with a clock, a marble Turkish bath and an Italian garden with an arbour.
Stefan Cantacuzino made the last modification and after that, the court would fall in ruins. Alexandru Ipsilanti started to built a new court, first court being renamed as Old Court. In 1798 Constantin Hangerli sold the Old Princely Court to the merchants.
In 1953 it was redescovered, today it serves as a museum.
The oldest part of Bucharest lies around The Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche) at the end of Str. Franceza. Archaeologists believe that this area was inhabitated long before the 14th century because of pieces found here. But this area's time of glory came in the 15th century when the reigning prince of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler built his fortress here. Vlad's followers (like Price Mircea Ciobanul - Mircea the Shepherd which ruled between 1545-52 and his successors between 1545-59 who also built the nearby church) continued the add to the building, rebuilding, fortifying and modifying the fortress to their needs. After almost 4 centuries, in the 18th century the building was left to ruins and the rulers of Wallachia moved to the New Court in Dealul Spirii. A museum was founded in 1972 when the archaeological diggings revealed the remains of the fortress. All that is left today is truncated pieces of wall and a few arcades.
The Old Court (“Curtea Veche”, open Wednesday – Sunday 10.00-18.00), located in the centre of the old town; it used to lie on the left bank of the river. In this area archaeological diggings have released proof of the existence of some 6th – 7th century cottages, as well as remains of a 14th century fortress. The building was about 160 sq. m. wide and also had a tower. In the times of Vlad the Impaler a new fortress was built, in rectangular shape and of over 600 sq. m. in shape, with many cellars. In the end of the 15th century the fortress was almost 1000 sq. m. wide, with the followers of Vlad the Impaler continuing his work (Basarab the Young, Mircea the Shepherd); the whole structure was much developed during the rule of Matei Basarab (1632-1654) and Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714). In 1972, on the site of the former Princely Court there was inaugurated an open air museum with fragments from different stages of the fortress development. The museum can be also seen from outside, as there isn’t much to the back, but it can also be visited by entering.
Next to the museum there is the Curtea Veche Church, built in 1559 by Mircea the Shepherd and being Bucharest’s oldest church. The church was much deteriorated during the Turkish campaigns of 1595 and 1658-1659, it was subsequently restored in the beginning of the 18th century just to partially burn down during the 1804 and 1847 fires that desolated a wide part of Bucharest. The church got its actual looks after the 1928 and 1935 restoration works that brought it back close to the former looks. In the niches of the lateral walls belonging to the entrance one can still see a few original frescoes from the time of Stephen Cantacuzino (1714-1715).
The Court (Curtea Veche) was once the seat of Wallachian rulers and the centre of political life before it came to decline and bad reputation.
Its roots go back to the 14th c. when Wallachian prince Mircea the Old built a fortress with a dungeon and a moat. Some of the original fortress walls survived until today. But when prince Vlad Tepes the Impaler (named so for cruelly impaling his Turkish enemies, which inspired Stoker's fiction about prince Dracula) came to power in the 15th c. and officially "founded" Bucharest by mentioning it in a written document in 1459, he extended the original court into a 4 times bigger stronghold and seat of power. Other rulers continued this trend and, by the end of the 17th c., the Princely Court was the largest compund in Wallachia.
However, towards the end of the 17th c. the Princely Court fell into decline due to earthquakes, fires and plunder. It became the "Old Court" when the rulers moved to Cotroceni Palace and left it as shelter to beggars, thieves and swindlers. This bad reputation inspired a novel The Idle Princes of the Old Court by M.I. Caragiale!
The Old Court's fate was soon to be even more dramatic. In 1798 its lands were sold by auction to merchants and craftsmen, and that's how the streets in that area bear the names of the various crafts and merchandise. Even a part of Hanul Manuc's Inn (see tip below) is located on the Old Court's grounds!
I find this story very interesting, and I'd rather remember Bucharest for its princely beginnings than for Ceaucescu's mania! If you head for Hanul Manuc's Inn, be sure to check the Old Court's too. It's literally a few steps away.
The monument in front is to commemorate Vlad Tepes the Impaler ("Dracula"), the fierce defender of the Wallachian princely state in the 15th c.
Manuc's Inn was built in 1808 by a rich and influencial Armenian trader known as Manuc Bey (real name Emanuel Marzaian) in the former commercial centre of Bucharest. A part of the inn stands on the grounds that used to belong to the Old Court before they were sold at an auction. It was a resting place for merchants and travellers, and its vast courtyard was big enough to shelter horses and carriages.
It is also one of Bucharest's historical places. In 1812 Manuc Bey offered this place for signing the Treaty of Bucharest that ended the Russian-Turkish wars and gave Bessarabia to Russia. In 1842 it served briefly as the main office of the City Hall. It was also the scene of cultural events: in 1880 it staged theatre plays as well as the first Romanian operetta!
Nowadays Manuc's Inn is a hotel-restaurant and a wine cellar, with many stores for the tourist prepared to spend their money. I must say the lovely galleries are a nice ambience for a meal or a drink in the courtyard on a sunny day or a warm evening.
-the Old Princely Court (16th cent.)
-Manuc's Inn (1808), today a specific Romanian-style hotel and restaurant
Palace of the Parliament and the Savings Bank (19th cent.)
-the Romanian Athenaeum (19th cent.)
-the University (19th cent.)
-History Museum of Romania, housed in a building, architecture monument (19th cent.)
-History and Art Museum of Bucharest City, housed in Sutu Palace (19th cent.)
-Art Museum of Romania
-Art Collections Museum
-"Gr. Antipa" Natural History Museum
-Village and Folk Art Museum
The ancient center of city is known under the name of Curtea Veche (Old Court), including Manuc's Inn ans streets Selari, Specari, Covaci, Gabroveni and Lipscani - the first commercial and handicraft place of the town, situated in the historic downtown of Bucharest only a few meters far from the kilometer number 0 of the Romania Capital.
Also, in the central areas of Bucharest there are several old parks, Cismigiu Garden (1850), Botanical Garden (1884).
Bucharest is also skirted by numerous lakes and woods - in which one may see a number of monuments in the traditional Romanian architectural style: the Snagov forest and lake ( including the monastery with the same name lying on the isle in the midst of the lake where Count Dracula has been buried), Mogosoaia- with the Palace of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, Cernica and Pasarea monasteries, the Caldarusani Lake and Monastery ( which was founded by ruling Prince Matei Bassarab), the Baneasa Woods.
Nowaday, Bucharest is the economic, social and cultural center of Romania, offreing a wide range of accommodation options, including private rooms, university campuses, hostels and hotels. The main places are in the center - Unirii Square, University Square and its surroundings, where there is the focal point for nightlife: you'll find plenty of entertaiment here, including bars, nightyclubs, theatres and cinemas.
Manuc's Inn represents one of Bucharest'historical building; it was build in 1808-by that times the owner was the Armenian trader-Emanuel Marzaian (Manuc Bey). Here in 1812 was signed the peace treaty known asBucharestos Peace that put ends to the numerous Russian-Ottoman wars. It is important to mention that in the year 1842 here had function The City Hall. Today, Manuc's Inn functions as a hotel-restaurant, winecellar and on the main floor there can be find numerous stores.