Curtea de Argeș

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Curtea de Argeș
Curtea de Argeș Monastery
Coat of arms of Curtea de Argeș
Coat of arms
Curtea de Argeș is located in Romania
Curtea de Argeș
Curtea de Argeș
Location of Curtea de Argeș
Coordinates: 45°08′21″N 24°40′45″E / 45.13917°N 24.67917°E / 45.13917; 24.67917Coordinates: 45°08′21″N 24°40′45″E / 45.13917°N 24.67917°E / 45.13917; 24.67917
Country  Romania
County Argeș County
Status Municipality
 • Mayor Nicolae Diaconu (Social Democratic Party)
Population (2011)
 • Total 27,359
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Climate Dfb

Curtea de Argeș (Romanian pronunciation: [ˌkurte̯a de ˈard͡ʒeʃ]) is a city in Romania on the right bank of the Argeş River, where it flows through a valley of the lower Carpathians (the Făgăraş Mountains), on the railway from Pitești to the Turnu Roşu Pass. It is part of Argeș County. The city administers one village, Noapteș.

On July 7, 1947, the total rainfall in Curtea de Argeș was 205.7 mm (8.10 in.) in 20 minutes, which is a world record.[1]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1900 4,210 —    
1912 6,279 +49.1%
1930 6,809 +8.4%
1948 9,180 +34.8%
1956 10,764 +17.3%
1966 16,423 +52.6%
1977 24,645 +50.1%
1992 35,824 +45.4%
2002 32,626 −8.9%
2011 27,359 −16.1%
Source: Census data


The name, literally The Court upon Argeș, refers to the former status of the town as the capital of Wallachia. Some historians identify the river with ancient "Ordessos", however the name is unlikely to be derived from this name.[2] The oldest Slavonic documents use an "Arghiș" form, which might suggest a Cuman or Pecheneg etymology, from the root arghiš ("higher ground", "heights").[2] The original name was Argeș, which was then used for the name of the river as well.[2]

Capital of Wallachia[edit]

One of the oldest towns in Wallachia, Curtea de Argeș was the capital of a small local state which was the start for the unification of the lands south of the Carpathians.[2] The oldest archeological evidence of it being the seat of such a ruler date from the 13th century.[2]

Câmpulung was the seat of Basarab I, the voivode of Wallachia, who was first mentioned in a document written in 1324 at the court of Charles I of Hungary. The next year, a conflict broke out between the two and in 1330, Charles I organized an expedition against the "unfaithful" Basarab and destroyed the Argeș stronghold.[3]

The tradition of Wallachian chronicles differ from the Hungarian documents: they don't mention Basarab I and instead, they claim that Argeș was founded in 1290 by Radu Negru who crossed the Carpathians from Transylvania to found the cities of Curtea de Argeș and Câmpulung.[3]

While Câmpulung is sometimes credited as the first capital of Wallachia, the Wallachian chronicles mention only Curtea de Argeș as being the capital, this being supported by the fact that the Hungarian documents mention that Charles I attacked the Argeș stronghold and not the Câmpulung one.[3]

In the first decades of the 14th century, a group of Catholic Saxons were brought under the authority of the catholic bishop of Transylvania and they were settled in the city. In 1381, the then-only Catholic bishopric in Wallachia was founded in the city, being part of the Archdiocese of Kalocsa. In the 17th century the bishopric moved to Bacău due to the decrease in the number of local Catholics.[4]

After 1340, a new royal court was built at Argeș, containing a palace and a church, the whole compound having an area of 0.76 hectares.[3] It was here that the Metropolitan Orthodox Church of Wallachia was founded in 1359.[3]

The town traded with Transylvania, focusing on the town of Sibiu, to which it had a direct road crossing the Olt Valley and Țara Loviștei. The commercial area of the town was around the court and the St. Nicholas in Târg Church, where the bazar was located.[5]


This Argeș court was the residence of the Wallachian hospodars until Mircea I of Wallachia, included.[3] The following rulers used both Argeș and Târgoviște as the seats of the court and traveler Johann Schiltberger mentioned that in 1396 both cities were capitals.[3] During the 15th century, the court was used alternately with the one in Târgoviște, but in the 16th century, the capital was completely moved to Târgoviște and the Argeș court was rarely visited.[3]

Argeș was one of the most important towns in Wallachia in the 14th and 15th centuries, but starting with the 16th century, its importance began to fade. The Orthodox Metropolitan's seat was moved to Târgoviște in 1517, while the Catholic bishopric ended its activity in 1519. A fall in the trade with Sibiu and Brașov also led to a population decline.[6]

After the Curtea de Argeș Monastery was built during the rule of Neagoe Basarab, the rulers of Wallachia favored it and, apart from donations (part of the town's domain), they gave it rights over the town. The monastery presided over trials in the marketplace and it was allowed to build customs house and mills. This eroded the autonomy of the town and led to further economic slump.[6]


Princely Church

The city is the site of couple medieval churches (among them the Curtea de Argeş Cathedral) having been a bishopric since the close of the 18th century.

The most important church is the Biserica Domnească (Royal Church) built by Basarab I, completely renovated in 2003-2004. It resembles a stone fortress, connected through catacombs to a guard tower on a nearby hill. Ruins of the Prince's Palace Complex are still visible. It is mentioned in Alexandru Odobescu's Doamna Chiajna. One of the most enduring and famous Romanian legends, the legend of Meşterul Manole, is related to the monastery's construction.[7]




  1. ^ "Ohio Weather Library Rainfall page 1". Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Rădvan, p.243
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Rădvan, p.244.
  4. ^ Rădvan, p.245
  5. ^ Rădvan, p.247.
  6. ^ a b Rădvan, p.247-248
  7. ^ Curtea de Argeș, Mănăstirea Argeș, Biserica Episcopală Retrieved 22 March 2009.


  • Laurenţiu Rădvan, At Europe's Borders: Medieval Towns in the Romanian Principalities, Brill, 2010, ISBN 9789004180109