The country's largest, and most impressive art collection is housed inside the splendid former Royal Palace, first built in 1812 as a private home by the wealthy trader Dinicu Golescu. When his sons fell into financial ruin some years later, they were forced to sell the building to the state, which carried out huge modifications, adding a number of new wings. It became a royal residence in 1859, when it became the site of the court of the first prince of the united principalities, Alexandru Ion Cuza. Although slightly remodelled in the 1930s, the building we see today is more or less the original. There are two permanent galleries, split over three floors of the main building. National Art (itself divided into Medieval Romanian Art - featuring icons, carved altars, illustrated manuscripts and bibles, and fragments of frescoes, and Modern Romanian Art, with all of Romania’s greatest 20th-century artists well represented, including Theodor Aman, Constantin Brancuşi, Gheorghe Patraşcu, and Gheorghe Tattarescu); and European Paintings and Sculpture, which plays host to a fine collection of Old European Masters from all of the major schools. The museum also hosts a decent selection of temporary exhibitions.
The museum is increasingly trying to attract visitors to the amazing palace itself, opening up the former royal living quarters and throne room to guided tours on occasional weekends. These tours (which cost 20 lei per person) have been immensely popular and usually take place on the third weekend of every month (the next being December 16-17). You do not need to reserve a place on a tour in advance, but you should buy tickets at least 15 minutes before each tour starts. There are three on each day, at 11.30, 14.00 and 16.30.