Constructed from 1888-93 at the behest of Romania's first king, Carol I, Cotroceni Palace has since 1991 been the official residence of the Romanian President. Built on the site of a former monastery (the foundations and cellars of which remain, and form part of the tour of the palace), the palace was designed by a French team of architects, led by Paul Gottereau. The design would form something of a blueprint for Romanian domestic architecture for years to come. It served as the Bucharest residence of the Romanian royal family until 1939.
During the communist period it was used as a guest house for visiting heads of state.
The part that serves today as the president's office, and official home, however, was added after the great Bucharest earthquake of 1977, and bears the stamp of local architect Nicolae Vladescu.
Part of the palace is open to the public, and can be visited on a tour. You will see a number of function rooms, many of which were decorated to the whims of Marie, the English wife of Carol's heir, his nephew Crown Prince Ferdinand. You will also be able to view her astonishing art collection.
During the construction of the new wing in the 1980s, ruins of the original monastery church were discovered, including part of the original interior frescoes. The church has been partially rebuilt and can be visited without joining the full palace tour.
Admission 50 lei, students and children 25 lei (Romanians pay less). Admission includes entrance and the compulsory guided tour, which must be booked at least two days in advance. Tours are available in Romanian, French, English, Spanish and Italian. Last tour begins at 16:00.