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Home History Florica Villa


           The name Bratianu comes from a "Bratiian from Bratiani" a locality in the proximity of Brădet, the old cradle of Bratianu family, mentioned in a document dated July 29, 1508. This document was issued in Bucharest, by Mihnea the Mean, ruler of Wallachia (Tara Romaneasca), the illegitimate son of Vlad Tepes.
          Through this document, Neagoe and his sons, namely Brătianu and Neag, were given half the village of Bratianii, near Brădet. They are the direct ancestors of Bratianu family.
         “Bratian from Bratiani” is mentioned again in a document of 18 April 1535. Because only beginning with the first decades of the seventeenth century, the rulers of the Romanian Countries, the nobles and common people have borne surnames, Bratianu family members from previous centuries are distinguished from others by means of the locality names where they had properties, namely Brătienii de Sus and Brătienii de Jos, which merged with Galesul, first forming Brătieni-Galesul, then Brăduleţ, situated in Vâlsan Valley, 42 km away from Pitesti.
        The social status evolution was achieved through marriages to women from families of great landowners. Thus, Constantin (Dincă) Brătianu held the positions of steward and great dignitary during Ruler Alexandru II Ghica. Following his marriage to Anastasia Tigveanu, he had seven children including: Dumitru (1817 - 1892) and Ion (1821-1891).
        Located in Ştefăneşti town, Arges County, the Mansion of Brătianu family, bearing the same name –Florica- as the village in which it is located, in the memory of the first daughter of Ion C. Brătianu, is one of the most beautiful manorial lands from Romania, well preserved until today (except for the interior objects, furniture and books scattered under the communist regime).
         It is the mansion where the most important family of Romanian politicians was born and lived, a true civil dynasty which gave the country no less than three prime ministers, two of whom - Ion and Ionel Brătianu - had an overwhelming role in the realization of the modern state of Romania; the first being connected to the War of Independence, the second achieving – following a war, as well - the Union of 1918 and the reforms that provided the foundation for the inter-war democracy.


          Florica Domain - consisting of a mansion, a farm, a chapel, a wine cellar, a station and even an astronomical observatory, all set in the middle of a large park, surrounded by the vineyards of Ştefăneşti - is the work of the first two Bratianu members, Ion and Ionel, father and son, who - being passionate builders, especially the latter - turned a cozy manor administration house into a sumptuous manorial residence, where important decisions regarding our history were taken.
          The House was attested in 1829 and it consisted of four old rooms, namely: the squire’s room, the room of the person who was in charge of the vineyard and the Turkish room with the tench to drain the wine into the cellar. It is said to have belonged to Constantin Brancoveanu, "who knew where to put his money". He bought lands on the hills from Valea Mare and they sheltered here in the autumn when they participated in the grape harvesting. Around 1800 the vaulted double-arched wine cellar was built. Above it there were the hall and the four chambers.

          The first house from Florica was built by Ion C. Brătianu in 1858, on his share of the estate inherited from his father. Originally, Brătianu had chosen Tigveni estate, where he spent his childhood, but - at the request of his elder brother, Teodor – he received the third batch of estates which included Florica, Mălureni, Galesul - Bratieni, Lereşti and Sîmbureşti. The "big and beautiful” house from Tigveni, “with porch, thick walls and an underground tunnel connecting the bedroom with the secular forest" is still preserved today.
        Ion C. Brătianu (1821 - 1891) sold some of the other estates, but he bought Floreasca Vineyard next to Florica; this vineyard had preoccupied all his life up to his death, looking after it and exploiting it by the latest prescriptions. He was pleased with his choice for Florica, to the detriment of Tigveni which evoked his childhood. "What would I have done without Florica? Here I have always found my bodily and spiritual health and strength”, Ion Brătianu confessed in 1887.
        The construction works for the house at Florica began in 1858, after Ion C. Brătianu married Pia Pleşoianu, the new family settling in the country. The old Bratianu turned a four-roomed house with a wine cellar into a mansion with a beautiful open terrace on the ground floor. It seems that over the basement and ground floor of the old building, the owner added a floor with a few rooms. "It was one of his happiest dreams to have a house on that hill, admirably adorned with the finest trees that could be found in the country."
          Ionel Brătianu recalled: “Our parents – ever since their wedding have transformed Florica into their domestic settlement. On different occasions their political duties obliged them to move to Bucharest.  Twelve years of service to the ministry and the higher educational courses of high scool forced our parents and the children to spend most of the year in the Capital. Nevertheless, Florica was, for some and for the others, the real home and crib. We felt this to such a degree that those who were born in Florica had an advantage over those born in Bucharest because they had a closer relationship with it. My father withdrew from the government in the early 1869 and we settled at Florica, where from for a period of seven years and only rarely one of the children came for a few days in Bucharest. "


         During the life of “Vizirul” (Ion C. Brătianu) the house maintained that sober style imposed by his simple tastes. Towards the end of his life, his son Ionel, an enthusiastic construction engineering, persuaded him of the the necessity to renovate the house. The way it looks today, the entire ensemble from Florica is the building passion fruit of Ionel Brătianu "who modified almost everything that remained from his father and turned a cottage next to a vineyard into ​​a comfortable facility with park, farm and even an astronomical observatory". The style of the house is Neo-Romanian, beautifully combining the modern with the traditional. Ionel Brătianu was to answer a query in Parliament on 8 February 1909: "The house has changed since my father left it to me, as my father changed his house left by my grandad. My grandad left a house with a basement and four rooms. My father added eight rooms. In my turn I have added some as well and I hope that the future generations, for the love they have for Florica, will also add something ... What I did at Florica I would like us to do for the Romanian state ".
          The arrangements and construction works that Ionel Brătianu (1864-1927) made at Florica lasted from 1889 up to 1925. In 1885, when he was still in Paris for his studies, he wrote to his family: “I’m getting seriously involved into architecture; I will build the vineyard terrace for you. With regard to the foundations, I think I can easily manage to work them out”. In April 1889, he drew up the plan to transform the floor of the house, stipulating the building of a “Room for fencing, biliards, ball  and many other comedies“, flanked on the left by a vestibule, office, toilet, chamber for Papa, bedroom and parents’ room”. In April 1890 Ionel Brătianu drew up the construction plan for the ground floor. It was to be the foundations for the great mansion renovation and expantion during 1905-1912 under the direct leadership of the architect Petre Antonescu. The house reconstruction stirred his mother’s discontentment because of her husband’s ilness. She wrote to her daughter, Sabine, in March 1891: “I found the house in pretty good conditions; I’m only bothered by Ionel’s walls. You shouldn’t demolish your house in moments like these! I don’t know where to run away with your father so that we can escape from this. He’s just begun digging the hole for the wine cellar, but I don’t want to imagine what’s going to be when he starts building the walls! Staying in the house is out of the question”.
          It is since this period that the architectural elements date: fragments of capitals brought from Histria, the bas-relief with the “Thracian Knight” motif, dating from the second century B.C., the frieze brought from Sarmizegetusa. Also, Petre Antonescu built the establishment for the Ion I.C. Bratianu Library, which holds – among over 30,000 volumes – 5,000 books taken from the library of Florica Mansion.
          Close collaborator, I.G. Duca used to remember Ionel Brătianu at Florica “Building, demolishing, building again, passing from the vineyard to the wine cellar, from on the hill to the river meadow, from the vineyard to the yard, aiming to forget the miseries of the public life by getting involved in the farm preoccupations and agricultural household innovations”.
          In 1948 the mansion was nationalized, and the owner was arrested. The building was completely neglected after it had been used as a headquarters for the Greek refugees of Marcos. After 1970, the party administration sets sight on it and it is restaured and refurnished to become a “guest house”. In 1990 the Ministry of Culture decides to set up Brătianu Cultural Centre and since 2003 it has been administred by the County Council of Argeş.


    Following the new constructions, the mansion at Florica had the following interior structure:
•    The ground floor: the access was through two halls, a main one, at the front, and a service hall, at the back. These flanked the library and the stairs leading to the first foor. In April 1890, Ionel Brătianu drew up the plan for the ground floor: the centre was dominated by a large “room paved with slabs”, flanked on the left by “a vestibule, office, bufet, dining room (with an exit door to the park) and father’s room, transformed into a library”, and on the right “the milk room, the pantry, the bathroom and the Turkish room”. Above ”the milk cellar” there were stipulated a kitchen and rooms for the servants, the living room had to be transformed into a ”room for the bottles”, and below the terrace, at the entrance, a ”room for the lad”.
•    First floor: In April 1889 he drew up the plan to transform the first floor of the house, stipulating the building of a “room for fencing, biliards, ball  and many other comedies“, flanked on the left by a vestibule, office, toilet, rom for father, bedroom and mother’s room” and on the right by three ”bedrooms and parents’ room”. Also, there was a big covered terrace (with carved pillars), an open terrace, two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a toilet, a water closet, study, the housemaid’s room and library.
•    In 1925, having covered the terrace on the first floor, from on the roof he could see the wonderful landscape of Piteşti in a splendid sunset. This moment led to the building of the second floor, which was not stipulated in the original plan. This, which was more like an attic, was built by the engineer Iliescu in 1925, and consists of a covered terrace, the room for the weaving machines, room for the books, Ionel Brătianu’s study room, stationery room, stairs and the big loft.
   Constantin Argetoianu, who visited Florica several times, provided a very plastic description of Bratianu mansion: “The new appearance of Florica residence represents the combination of two passions: Ionel’s passion for constructions and his wife’s Eliza for gradening. The old parental house, whose roms were kept with piety, furnished as they were in the old times, was extended through addition of other rooms at the front, at the back, on flank and above. The successive increases around the primitive nucleus give the whole building a sui-generis aspect, in which the past memories, the economic tinkering and the tendencies of a plutocratic confort meet. The different additions and the interior modifications have complicated both the proportion of the rooms with the stairs and the corridors that I couldn’t manage through not even after the fifth or sixth visit“.

Reception hall

           The reception hall is the biggest room in the house in which there are preserved the original access stairs from the main entrance, the ceilings carved with embedded ceramics, the bookcase with crystal glass, the cherry tree wood bench (once cushioned in leather).

The Turkish room

           It is the only room in which there have been preserved two original access doors as well as the window shutter and the crystal glass window. The doors are made of three different types of wood: oak, cherry tree and rose wood, apparently. The room was furnished in Oriental style with a sofa in the middle on which there were some velvet pillows and a hookah. The Christmas tree was decorated in this room every year. The stove (like all the other stoves in the house that have been preserved) is built of Saxon tiles (cahle), from Bistrita.

The ground floor library

          It shelters one of the few original pieces of furniture which were preserved in the house, namely this "slabbed table" made of petrified cherry wood, a traditional Arabic method, being purchased by Ion C. Bratianu, in 1860 at an auction in Paris. The table is much older, dating from the 16th century. On the ceramic tiles there are traditional Persian motifs (some of them are zoomorphic). The stove, among the few in the house that have been preserved, is decorated with a three-braided cordon that is also found on the east side of the house and on the family chapel. This architectural motif would represent the "Holy Trinity" and was commonly used in that period (the end of the 19th century - early 20th century). The access to spouses Ion and Pia Brătianu’ bedroom was made from this library.


     Among the nearly 40 rooms of the mansion, the ground and first floor libraries stand out thorugh their rich interior decoration (carved ceilings, panels); although today they are almost empty, they impress all the visitors. The library at Florica was, through its collections of books and magazines, one of the most important in Romania. Constantin Argetoianu considered it "the most important private library in Romania."
       Ion I.C. Brătianu Library contained a wide variety of books, incunabula, magazines, stamp collection, numismatics collection, representing proofs of his vast culture. I.G. Duca is the one who provided the structure of the library at Florica: "Researchers of Ion I.C. Brătianu Library will find in it a great variety of books, proof of his vast culture and his interesting eclecticism. But, undoubtedly, what prevails are the history books, in particular those that relate to our national past. This collection, in some respects greater and more complete than the collection of the Romanian Academy, was started by Ion Brătianu, in his great passion to know the origin and the tumultous life of the Romanian Countries and then continued by his son, Ionel, at the beginning, due to a sense of filial piety, and then because of his growing and passionate interest for our history "
          Throughout Ionel Brătianu’s life, "nobody set their hands on the stocks at Florica"; after 1927, 5,000 volumes were transferred into the library of Ion I.C. Brătianu Foundation; after 1948 the books from Florica library were scattered and destroyed, only an insignificant fraction of books being donated to the Romanian Academy and to other libraries. Thousands of volumes were burnt in the mansion’s park for several weeks. Apart from the books, the library and the mansion at Florica had a rare collection: the photos of Brătianu family. "Apart from the books- Constantin Argetoianu recalled-the most interesting treasure of the house from Florica was the endless collection of photographic memories, snapshots of the life of Brătianu the old, but mostly from Ionel’s life, framed-either individually or more and hung on the walls, placed in the spaces available on the book shelves, but especially along the stairways and corridors".

The Terrace

          It was covered in 1925. There were preserved the peasant hearth furnace, the access door with the lock. On the door frame it is engraved 1823, which means it is much older (it can be noticed that it was subsequently installed because the frames do not match the walls). The uncovered part of the terrace was kept like this on purpose because it served as sunbathing place in the summer and there was a shower which was then functional. The pillars and beams are made of oak. One can see the glycine planted by Pia Brătianu when building works began in 1858.

Ionel Bratianu’s Study

               In the room on the second floor there have been preserved the beautifully carved bookcases, but not the crystal glasses. There was a bed, a table and a chair, otherwise only books. Also, here there is Ionel Brătianu’s bronze bust carved by Ion Jales, the tuxedo, a baccarat glass and a portrait, all belonging to Dumitru Brătianu. The terrace of this room was Ionel's favourite place, the place where he liked to read. Sabina Cantacuzino describes the library on the second floor "The library on the second level (was) really beautiful with a wide view of the valley. Ionel, in his boundless love of books which "cast him out of the house," as he said, built a large room, covered in wood, and he placed there the first cabinet made ​​by his mother, which he removed from the house at Eliza's request. "(...)


          The second basic component of the ensemble from Florica is represented by the farm, situated right at the entrance into the park, on the left side. The farm building is the work of the architect Petre Antonescu during 1905-1912, being built on two levels in Neo-Romanian style. The farm at Florica forms, through its four sides, an interior patio with a fountain in the middle. After the disappearance of Ionel Brătianu (November 24, 1927), his wife Eliza, who had been bequeathed the usufruct of the property, sold the farm to the Romanian state.
     “Within the monumental buildings of the farm at Florica – recalled Constantin Argetoianu- Ionel gathered like in a real boat of father Noah all the nations of domestic creatures. From cattle and horses, to sheep, pigs and dogs to birds of all sorts, the latter under the special care of Mrs. Eliza Brătianu, who had a special weakness for them-all the possible and impossible races, especially the mongrels were represented". Ionel Brătianu mentions the fact that the beginnings of the farm at Florica are connected with the first bred animals that Teodor Brătianu sent to Ion and Pia Brătianu: two mares, a Dutch cow and three piglets.
         Next to the farm, Ionel Brătianu also built other outbuildings at Florica, with the most varied destinations "Some shelter the flowers during winter, other the electricity or the water pumping machines, workshops of all kinds, even an observatory with a telescope (.. .) ".


         Florica Domain was surrounded by hundreds of acres of grapevines, especially looked after by Ion C. Brătianu. The grapevine was an important source of income for the family. The wine was sold either in the country (the products from Bratianu farm received good publicity in The Romanian newspaper), or abroad (in 1890, Ionel Brătianu accepting a French proposal to sell at least 1,000 barrels of wine, for the price 8 lei/ barrel (10 litres), obtaining a monopoly for bottled sales). The villa also used to produce top quality butter, cheese and cream for the market, which were appreciated even by King Carol I who stated: "with all my insistence, at the royal farms I cannot get the butter from Florica" or by Dimitrie Sturdza, who stated that "the cheese and cream from here take you into the sin of greed."


         The park from Florica mansion is also remarkable; Ion Brătianu used to call it "the gardens of Semiramisa". Beginning with 1869 around Florica a beautiful park was laid out, with winding alleys, surrounded by exotic species of trees, monuments, a pavilion. Most of the trees, some of them exotic, were planted by Alexandru Albu Golescu, famous for his passion in this domain. “Brătianu Alley” goes up to the forest on the plateau, from which you could see the endless fields of vineyards, to the pond of Brătienu family, surrounded by lofty cypresses, which raised their curious roots above the water. The park had not been designed following an original plan; a road going up to the house, another one serpentine-like leading to the chapel, alleys which all led somewhere. When the park was created, a major contribution had Eliza Brătianu, the second wife of Ionel, “planting mountain and field fowers, creating wide sights by cutting down a few trees, “scattering” clearings where possible”. Behind the park, in the coppice, Ionel Brătianu built a cemented pool, with flowing water, which together with the surrounding alders formed a beautiful park”. The statuary group "La Vulturi" (Eagles) is a contemporary artistic monument made ​​of stone by the Croatian sculptor Josef Mestrovic. It seems that the statuary group was made in the 1920's and is laid in the park at Florica. It could be considered a symbolic representation of the Small Agreement (Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia), or of Brătianu Brothers (Ionel, Dinu and Vintilă). The statuary group is placed on the site where Ion C. Brătianu’ favourite bench used to be.

The Greco-Roman stone column was brought by Bratianu brothers from Dobrogea at the end of the last century. The monument appears to be unique in Arges County, although it is said to have been brought from the Monastery Vierosi.

The commemorative altar cross of the wooden church of Albac is located on the site where this building was rebuilt and restored, known in the history as the church of Horea, during the period 1907-1954. This stone cross was carved in the nineteenth century and is mounted on the site where the first historic monument translation in the history of the Romanian museology was performed. The church has been preserved in Olăneşti, in Valcea County, beginning with 1954.

This dendrologic park (arboretum) is included in the National Cultural Heritage List.


          At Florica mansion, the life of Brătianu family followed a patriarchal pattern, according to the rules imposed by Ion C. Brătianu and strictly complied with. A Swiss governess, Marie Bornand, was hired to look after children’s education. She used to give German, French, piano, drawing and religion lessons. For the children, a day at Florica began with the morning shower, followed by lessons from 8.00 to 11.30 when breakfast was served; then the children could play in the park. Years later, Sabina Brătianu remembered of "sliding down the hill in the sledge and trough" of leaping from the haystack, the horse ridings. The children of Davilla and Fălcoianu families also took part in these childhood games. Important moments in the life of Ion and Pia Brătianu’s children were Christmas and the family celebrations attended by all the relatives and friends.

         In fact, Florica was never an isolated island; relatives and friends often stepped across its threshold; in 1922, Ionel found it difficult to leave his childhood miracle world from Florica. In the winter of 1864-1865 the family of C. A. Rosetti was hosted at Florica Villa, spending there a winter which they later recalled with pleasure.

        When Pia and Ion Brătianu were absent from Florica, aunt Anica Furduiescu and uncle Ghita Enescu looked after the children. They were raised with love, with a highly developed sense of duty, they were not spoiled.

        Florica is also the mansion visited by the most important figures of the Romanian political life, from kings Carol I and Ferdinand I, to the Queens Elisabeta and Maria, from the Golescu brothers, C.A. Rosetti to marshal Averescu, Prince Barbu Stirbey, I.G. Duca, etc. Important decisions concerning the country's history were taken within the chambers of the mansion at Florica: major reforms were decided, governments were formed and dissolved, strategies during peace and war were set, the Romanian Independence and Union were performed here.




          An important element is Florica train station, built and opened in 1887, when Golesti-Cimpulung Muscel railway was put into operation; it was built at the initiative of Ion I. C. Brătianu in his capacity as Prime minister of Romania, being one of the greatest achievements during his governing. Golesti-Cimpulung Muscel railway was designed and built by Romanian specialists only; Ion I.C. Bratianu served his apprenticeship while completing the studies to become a railway engineer. After 1948, the name of Florica Station was changed into Ştefăneşti Station.


    Another component of the ensemble at Florica is the church where most of Brătianu family members are buried. Situated on a plateau, on the right side of the park, at the edge of the forest, the Bratianu family Chapel - dedicated to the "Birth of Saint John the Baptist" - was built in 1898 by the French architect André Lecomte du Nouy.

     The church stands out through its monumental structure, being entirely constructed of Albeşti stone. The cross-shaped church has a single spire, with a square base and hexagonal shape, initially covered in brass sheet (which the foreign occupiers took during the First World War) and then in gutter tiles, preserved up to date.

      The access to the open porch is made by means of two rows of Albeşti stone stairs, on the sides, with railings, supported by narrow columns. The porch is supported by two front columns and two complex pillars which include columns, as well as the part near the pronaos. These have beautiful capitals, between which semicircular arches interpose. The church is girdled with a three-braided cordon and the absides present on the exterior a series of cornice panels. Between them and the eave there is a series of niches in which are painted the faces of prophets and poets, and on the frontispiece there are painted St. John the Baptist, the patron of the church, and St. Pavel the Apostle, on the right, and St. Peter the Apostle, on the left. 

           The side frames of the entrance doors to the church have sculptural decorative patterns of a particular refinement. The porch vault is semi-cylindrical transverse, with a spherical dome of modest sizes in the middle. The altar apse is semi-circular on the inside and polygonal on the exterior and the vault is curved in such a way that it becomes semi-cylindrical towards the iconostasis, and on the axis of the church it has a large window and a small one in the deep niche of the altar. The wooden iconostasis shows two registers with icons. The nave widens sharply through the two side absides, which are semicircular on the inside and pentagonal on the outside, showing two windows each and the open tower is cylindrical, being illuminated by eight small windows. The narthex is short, with a semi-cylindrical vault. The church has never been painted and under the porch, on the southern side, there are the access doors to the Brătianu family tombs. In 1953 it became a chrism church.

           The church was consecrated on May 19, 1921, in view of translating the coffin of Ion C. Brătianu into the new chapel, a ceremony which took place three days later; The service was officiated by metropolitans Miron Cristea – the first Patriarch of Romania – and Nicolae Balan of Sibiu; (at first, Ion C. Brătianu, who died on May 3, 1891, had been buried in the park of the mansion, on the hill, in a crypt constructed under the supervision of Eugen Carada, close to Florica, his first child, whom a relentless disease kidnapped from the family in the winter of 1865). "The parents’ pain was terrible and never wiped away" recalled her sister, Sabina Cantacuzino.

           The second solemn funeral which took place in the chapel at Florica was that of Ionel Brătianu, killed suddenly by an infection of the tonsils, on the 24th of November 1927.

           "At Florica, the coffin was placed in a chariot drawn by oxen; on that dark and misty winter day, the convoy, followed by a large crowd of friends, authorities and villagers, slowly climbed up the hill to the chapel ... Brătianu went to sleep his eternal sleep after such a brilliant life in the history of his people, on the same hill where, 63 years before, he had seen the light of the day. He was born at Florica in the period of the vassal Romania and "he rests in peace at Florica but in the period of the unified Romania". (I. G. Duca)

             Three years later, on the 22nd of December 1930, Vintilă Brătianu will also be buried in the crypts of Florica; Dinu and Gheorghe Brătianu, who had died in prison at Sighet, will also be buried, years later, in the family chapel.

           In 1907, Ion I.C. Brătianu was on a trip to Transylvania; on this occasion he discovered Horea’s wooden church in an advanced state of decay. Upon learning that the authorities intend to destroy it, Ionel Brătianu bought it and transported it by train to Florica, where it was rebuilt and restored. It was set in the park from Florica where it remained until 1954 when it was moved to Olăneşti, in Valcea County. Ionel Brătianu intended to turn it into a folk museum, of Romanian traditions.

         "The Liberals' Mecca”, the mansion from Florica remained in ​​history also thanks to poet Ion Pillat, who wrote many poems on its terraces.

           The mansion at Florica is worth visiting for any lover of our history; a visit here will represent, to anyone, a meeting with the history itself.

           "Florica represented not just the background where the entire sweet childhood life and the cheerful life of youth were evoked, but sometimes it seemed to be alive, to have a soul conceived of our souls, of the dead and the living ". (Sabina Cantacuzino)


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