The Village Museum at Curtisoara, Gorj

Important note to my future self: “You must dedicate more time and articles for your homeland places, because Gorj county has many fascinating sites and a beautiful and diverse landscape“.

So today story is about The Village Museum at Curtisoara (Muzeul Arhitecturii Populare de la Curtisoara), located only 10 km away from my hometown, Târgu-Jiu, the residence of the region.

Practical info:

  • Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 9.00am to 5:00 pm.
  • Tickets: 1.5 RON (0.25 EUR) children, 3RON (0.75EUR) adults.
  • Transport: by car, there are no public transport routes yet.
  • Allocated time: ~1.5 hours


History of the place

To understand why this is such an interesting place and how the museum was born, how it developed and how it got to the state it is today, we’ll have to travel back in time and dig just a tiny little bit into the Romanian history. I promise you, we just barely scratch the surface and we’ll keep it so simple and it won’t get boring.

Ooooh, I’m sure my history teachers would be so happy to hear ME praise their subject of knowledge, I wasn’t actually a history lover back then … silly little me.

Ready? Got yourself comfortable? a warm drink by your side? Here we go…

During the tumultuous and long period of times when our territories were under Ottoman rule, there were many robberies and crimes. Wealthier families, always fearing their life and their possessions being destroyed, understood quickly they had to build strong households.

Cula, in the back, is 250 years old.

This is how “cula” was born. These buildings were simple rectangular constructions, with two-three floors and very thick walls. A hybrid, if you ask me, between a defense tower and a house, because on the lower floors there were only a few small windows and many holes to allow a man to eye and shoot his enemies.

These types of buildings were found to the South of Romania mostly, between the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube river.

A map of all the remaining “cula” buildings found in Oltenia area

Fast forward to XXth century, during communist times. Again, those were not jolly times for my country. Landlords were left without their lands and everything shifted to the possession of the state.

So near Targu-Jiu town, in the small municipality of Curtisoara, the owner of the two “cula” buildings, forcibly lost his land to the state.

In 1975 local authorities opened a village museum, built around the two historic houses. Many other beautiful traditional old houses from the region, had been also bought and moved here, on this beautiful country side, forming an open air museum of the village life.


You can also visit the inside of some of the houses
This one was my favorite:)

The museum today

But after communism regime ended, the rightful owner of the land reclaimed his territory. That accounts for more than half of the village museum! It means that the two “cula” houses and all the other traditional houses who got moved on his land are sadly not available for the public anymore.

However, because they are national patrimony they cannot be destroyed or changed in anyway.

I must say we were so lucky last time we visited! I was avidly staring at the private side of the property and saw there was someone there. I don’t know if he was the owner or just someone who was taking care of the place, but he was very polite and kindly allowed us to visit that side as well.


But on the side of the museum that can be visited today, there are still plenty of things to see:

  • beautiful traditional houses, some of them decorated on the inside 
  • old tools and monuments
  • the oldest house from the village, that is over 200 years old
  • a historic church.
  • another “cula” !!!


A woman sewing carpets inside the oldest house in the village
Early autumn is a fantastic time to visit.
Autumn in the village! Just look at those colors!

In 2002 a “cula” house was added to this part also. It’s more recent and modern than those initial two, but of great significance, having also a small museum inside.

It belonged to Tatarascu family, who played a very important role in Romanian politics of XX century. He was a controversial figure, a minister during our last monarchic ruler, a liberal in political views but also had to abide for a while to the communist regime. His wife, Aretia Tatarascu, is also an important personality because she is the one to have invited and financed Constantin Brancusi, our country’s most famous sculptor, to erect the world renowned sculptural ensemble from Targu-Jiu.

The newest addition to the village, “Cula Tătărăscu”


At the end of this journey, I cannot stop myself however from expressing a profound sadness that this beautiful museum is today divided in half, because the local council does not have the money to move the houses left on the private property.

30 September 2017

8 thoughts on “The Village Museum at Curtisoara, Gorj

    1. Yes, I like them also! They were quite famous in the whole country. They are called “covoare oltenesti” (the rugs from Oltenia region) because they were made in this part of the country with predilection:)


    1. Hi Biaca, thank you for stopping by. I fell the same way, we have quite a few of them around Romania, in different regions of the country, and you can easily see the differences in architecture and in customs. They are really beautiful places, and the setting is always really nice also, close to nature.


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