Snagov Monastery and Mogosoaia Palace: One perfect half-day outside Bucharest:
If you are in the quest for more than a stroll on the alleys of the parks in Bucharest, the crowded city centre or even an escape on the Prahova Valley, then a visit to either Mogosoaia Palace or Snagov Monastery can be a very inspired choice for half a weekend day spent on the outskirts of Bucharest. These entire park areas have inspired many filmmakers, for one reason: a single step into these places will make you feel like going back in time during the “past lives of milady and milord.”
Mogosoaia Palace and its story
With a striking elegance from the first sight, the Mogosoaia Palace has a sophisticated air of old shrine, which urges you to meditation and relaxation. The place was built by Constantin Brancoveanu on the left bank of the river Colentina in 1702, which he later offered to his son, Stefan. This explains the architectural – Brancovan – style of the palace, combined with Renaissance, Oriental and Baroque elements. The red colour of the brick with which the whole ensemble is plated, next to the green of the park and the colour of the flowers give it a special charm.
The complex from Mogosoaia includes, besides the Mogosoaia Palace (named after the name of the wife of the Mogos boyer, the owner of the land on which the palace was built) and some annexes you can wander through like:
- The guest house, built by Nicolae Bibescu on the site of an old XVIIth century mansion
- Brancoveneasca kitchen (so-called cuhnia), built between 1681 – 1702
- The Ice House, an annexe located near the Mogosoaia Palace, in which entire blocks of ice cut from Lake Mogosoaia were kept. Today, space is used for exhibitions.
- The Tower of the Gate, located right at the entrance to the palace, also dates from 1702. If you want to admire the entire complex from the height, climb this tower and you will have a wonderful view.
- The Church “Sfantul Gheorghe” (in front of the palace) was built in 1688, but the decoration with frescoes was made much later, in 1705.
What to do at Mogosoaia
Nevertheless, the Palace Complex itself is a beautiful sight for sore eyes and the object of many photos and selfies. But if your soul is more adventurous or just want to relax a bit in this beautiful scenery, here’s a couple of ideas:
- Picnic at the Palace – If you come to the Mogosoaia Palace on the weekend, you will see quite a lot of people coming to the picnic, in the specially arranged space within the park. You can sit on the grass, play badminton, volleyball, or barbecue.
- Stroll by the Lake – On the shores of Lake Mogosoaia are some terraces where you can spend your free time if you want to relax. If you want to be more active, you can ride a bicycle or even a boat and go explore the lake.
- Water skiing – At Zumbaala Wake Park, the first cable wake park in Romania, you can do water skiing without a boat. You don’t have to be a professional to do this, wakeboarding can be practised by anyone because it’s easy to handle. A ten-minute ride costs you 40 lei during the week and 45 lei at the weekend. If you want to rent the equipment, it costs you 20 lei.
Located on an island in the Northern part of Snagov lake 40km from Bucharest, the small town bearing the same name is another retreat from the busy life of Bucharest. From cycling to wine tasting, from boat rides on the lake to horse riding, you’ll have plenty of relaxing activities here. Whether you stay on land or take a trip on the water, you will find plenty of things to do for a truly relaxing day in a peaceful setting. You can also visit the Snagov Monastery, built by Mircea the Elder (the grandfather of Vlad the Impaler, also known as the famous Dracula). During its history, the monastery was rebuilt by Vlad and some other rulers of Wallachia and it has been one of the strongest fortified churches and an important cultural centre. Snagov Monastery is one of the most popular tourist destinations, as you can see the place where it is supposed to be the grave of the cruel voievod, Dracula.
Snagov Lake lies next to the Snagov Forest and represents the most important recreational lakes around the capital, charming you in the most picturesque backgrounds of the area. The shape of the lake is elongated and sinuous, with many bays, and in the downstream there is an island on which is found the Snagov Monastery. On the shores of Lake Snagov, besides reed and rush, there are also water lilies (lotus). The fish fauna, which attracts many amateur fishermen, is distinguished by the existence of several species of fish. The Snagov Forest is one of the old Codrii Vlasiei, which once covered much of the Romanian Plain. Arranged in the shape of a park, with cobbled alleys that sneak under the shady trees, this forest stretches over 1470ha.
Snagov forest is probably the closest area for outdoor activities outside Bucharest. The thick forest routes, the lakeshore and the cultural sights are opportunities to visit the area for one day. The Snagov area is a natural reservation, with two natural protected areas – for fauna and flora, Snagov lake and Snagov forest. Many trails criss-cross this forest and you can easily enjoy a bike ride. Along this trip, you will visit Snagov Monastery – the burial place of Vlad III Dracula. Throughout the ride, you’ll spot various birds, deer, rabbits, wild hogs. Or, you can also opt for a variety of activities including walking, canoeing, yacht tours, museum tours. If desired, you can book some kayaks for those looking for some more adventure in the Snagov lake.
In Snagov there are plenty of restaurants, hotels and cottages with great music, pools, lake views and relaxation areas. Some of them are in a typical Romanian style serving traditional food while others are basically ranches where you can try horse riding, cooking classes or even wine tasting. Some are even larger complexes with a vast array of activities: outdoor pool, play tennis, football, ping-pong & even have a barbecue.
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