The former Royal Palace of Bucharest is a monumental building situated on Calea Victoriei 49-53.
The Palace in its various incarnations, from a small private house to a building with several wings, served as official residence for the Kings of Romania until 1947, when a republican regime was installed after the abdication of King Michael I. Since 1950 the Palace hosts the National
Museum of Art of Romania. This building contains emblematic official spaces such as the Throne Hall, the Royal Dining Hall
and the monumental Voivodes' Staircase.
An equestrian statue of the first king of Romania, Carol I, stands in the large square in front of the palace.
Between 1812 and 1815, the Golescu Mansion was built at the place of the present Royal Palace. It belonged to stolnic Dinicu Golescu, a high-ranking aristocrat (boyar). The house was built in Neoclassical style and had 25 rooms, a quite large house for the Bucharest of that era. In
1837, the Golescu Mansion became the official residence of Prince of Wallachia, Alexandru II Ghica. From 1859 to 1866, the Prince of the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, used the Golescu Mansion as his official residence.
Starting from 1866, the building was used as residence by Prince Carol I, who later became the first King of Romania. During his reign, King Carol somehow enlarged and optimised the Golescu Mansion, that was neither large enough, nor it presented the appropriate spaces or the required monumentality for official Royal duties. After gaining its independence from the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War, Romania was proclaimed a kingdom in 1881, with the mansion now serving as Royal Palace.
In 1926, a fire destroyed the main building of the old Royal Palace. The Royal Family then used Cotroceni Palace as its official residence in Bucharest (Cotroceni was built by King Carol I as a residence for the young couple Ferdinand and Maria, during their tenure as Crown Princes). Since a total renovation was necessary, the remains of the old palace were demolished during the ample reconstruction performed in 1936–1937.
The new Royal Palace, as it stands today, was erected in 1936–1937 under the direct supervision of Queen Marie and her son, King Carol II. The architect of the building was Nicolae Nenciulescu. During World War II, a complete rebuild of the Palace's Place was planned, in order to underline the Royal Palace's full monumentality, but this architectural project was never completed.
During the Romanian communist era, the Royal Palace in Bucharest was used to host the National Museum of Art of Romania.
After its anti-Communist Revolution of 1989, Romania remained under a Republican regime and the former Royal Palace continued to host the National Museum of Art. During the events in December 1989, with violent armed confrontations on the streets, the Palace was again
seriously damaged and burnt; the art works of the National Museum inside it were put at great risk.The main halls in the Royal Palace were generally restored after the regime change – with the most ample restoration work completed in 2013 – and are now opened to tourists, on
After the Romanian Revolution, former King Michael and his wife, Anne, were allowed for a first visit in the country in April 1992 (despite their attempts to do that immediately after the events). The two-day visit was a historical event, with the monarchist press claiming more than one million people had been the King in the streets. After that, the Romanian post-Communist authorities denied him a second visit until 1997, when a newly-installed government under Victor Ciorbea abolished the Communist decree that banned the King's Romanian citizenship, effectively allowing him to regain their Romanian identification documents and permanently move in the country.
In August 2016, the coffin of Anne, spouse of King Michael I, was placed in state in the Throne Hall for two days, before her burial in Curtea de Argeș, with thousands of Romanians paying homages.
In December 2017, King Michael the Ist was also placed in state in the Throne Hall, before being carried to the Patriarchy’s Palace in an ample military procession for a short memorial service. Afterwards the coffin was transported to the Royal Train Station and left Bucharest with the Royal Train to be buried with honors in Curtea de Argeș, next to his wife and descendants.