If the name Târgoviste sounds familiar, it’s probably because this town played an important role in recent history. This is the location of the trial and execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu (25 December 1989). Don’t bother looking for the exact place; it still exists but it’s closed off for the general public.

Let’s return to the life of our main man, Vlad the Impaler. His youth was a very turbulent and violent one. For political reasons, he and his younger brother, Radu, were hostages in the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, The Turks treated the two brothers in a very different way. They were kind towards Radu, who later even converted to the Muslim faith. But the Turks abused Vlad, who came to see his captivity as a big humiliation.

As an adult, Vlad became the ruler of Wallachia, a region in Romania, with Târgoviste as its capital.

During his reign, Vlad killed the boyars who had murdered his father and older brother. His favorite method of execution – for any criminal – was impalement, hence the origin of his name Tepes, which is Romanian for impaler. This act and his constant fight against his enemies – especially the Ottoman Empire – consolidated his fame both as a national leader and a cruel dictator.

The official seating place of Vlad the Impaler – and most of the Wallachian leaders – was the Princely Court in Târgoviste, dating from the 14th century. It’s quite a big complex that underwent lots of additions and extensions during at least 2 centuries and you can still visit it. These ruins are one of the main reasons tourists come to Târgoviste.

The Chapel Church is one of the first buildings you can visit.

Afterwards, walk around amongst the ruins of the castle and its fortifications…

Vlad Tepes added the Chindia Tower to the complex, which is now the symbol of the city. You can climb the tower by the way, but since we both suffer from vertigo, we didn’t do this…

In the course of the 17th century, when the Princely Court moved away from Târgoviste, the complex became neglected. Anyway, if you want to know more about this place, check out this website. You can easily spend the morning here and visit the nearby Dealu Monastery in the afternoon. But that location is for another post.

This weekend we will publish the first part of our “lockdown diary” and next week we first have a look at the most famous place associated with Vlad the Impaler. But the question that Lars and I ask is: does it really deserve that reputation?


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