Did you know that there is a castle in the center of Bucharest? Probably not… For a long time we didn’t know either. Tepes Castle is one of the well hidden secrets of the city, which deserves to be better known.
Tepes Castle is there next to Carol Park, on Candiano Popescu Street. First time we’ve seen it in a winter day when we were walking through the park. Leafless branches of the trees allowed us to see some walls that have aroused our interest. A tall tower with battlements, supported by strong buttresses hardly finds its place among the old houses and apartment buildings nearby. To our disappointment, the castle was left to decay and the doors were locked. However, curiosity pushed us to find more.
In early 1906 Romania was ready to celebrate. King Carol I’s 40th anniversary on the throne, the 25th anniversary of the country’s transformation to a kingdom and 1,800 years since the armies of Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia. This triple occasion s required a great celebration. The Field of Liberty, where today Carol Park is, hosted the Romanian General Exhibition. The lake and grotto were built then, and many of the trees under which we walk today were planted. Among them several other buildings were built, some standing, others just for the exhibition.
The Royal Pavilion – resembling Cozia Monastery, Horezu Monastery, Greceanu tower or the church of Radauti are some of the monuments that have been replicated in the park during the exhibition. None of them exists today. The Palace of Arts, which was located on the place where today we see Mausoleum housed the Military Museum fora while, but was damaged by an earthquake in 1940 and demolished. Turkish mosque was moved by the communists behind the blocks at Heroes of the Revolution Square. Although it is well hidden, it can be visited today. The only buildings remaining are Roman Arenas, Silver Knife church (a copy of St. Nicholas Church in Iasi) and the Tepes Castle.
The exhibition needed a water tower that had to be on top of a hill. To hide the water tank, the architect chose a more pleasant image, to impress visitors: a small castle. Tepes Castle is a copy of the Poienari fortress built by Vlad Tepes in the Arges Gorges. Model selection was not random; the king himself was an admirer of the Wallachian voivode. A huge water tank almost entirely occupies the castle’s tower, leaving place only for a spiral staircase that goes up to the roof, where the fireworks were prepared.
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, the castle was transformed into a barracks for the soldiers who were on duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, back then a unit of gendarmes. In 2004 it became the seat of the National Office for Heroes Memory. Meanwhile have not done any repairs, and the castle threatened to collapse. In 2010 it was registered on the list of historic monuments and restoration works started. Meanwhile repairs were completed and the castle looks great. However, he is still managed by the Romanian Ministry if Defense and has established as a military unit, so that it is only open to the public on special occasions.
Open Days are organized 2 times a year, during the weekend, around the Army Day(October 25th) and Remembrance Day (Ascension).
On weekend which just ended the Open Days were organized for the first time in the last four years. Unfortunately the event was only announced on Facebook page of the Ministry of Defense (MapN) just one day before and I found out too late. But I’m waiting forward for the month of October.