Officially testified on the 20 th of May 1388, in an act of donation of the ruler Mircea cel Batran, the market town of Pitesti evolves into a commercial, agricultural and handicraft centre of the area.
But the history of the city stretches back a long time. In the Dacian-Roman time, Pitesti was part of the Moesia Inferior region, and then part of Dacia Malvensis. Lots of buildings, parts of buildings, pottery and coins date to this period. The relics belonging to the Dridu culture and coins dating back to the Medieval Age confirm the fact that the inhabitants of Pitesti had an intensive economic activity with regions south of the river Danube, especially with the Byzantine Empire. Pitesti hosted for short periods of time rulers like Basarab cel Tanar, Mihnea cel Rau and Vlad cel Tanar.
The official testify of 1388, along with Campulung Muscel (1300), Curtea de Arges (1300), Braila (1350) and Slatina (1368) made Pitesti one of the oldest market towns in Romania. A first written evidence of Pitesti dates back to 1510. Later, on 27th of August 1582, it is confirmed by the mentioning of the structure of the community.
Many important noblemen and court officials like the ones from the Golesti, Izvoran and Cantacuzino families and especially the most important of all Mihai Viteazul (1593-1601), which in the year 1600 managed to unite the Romanian Countries, owned properties in Pitesti. A legendary name which ties together the history of the inhabitants from the period of Mihai Viteazul, is that of the Great Chancellor Ioan Norocea, who was married with the Lady Stanca, daughter of Mircea Ciobanul (1545-1554, 1558-1559) and of the Lady Chiajna. Ioan Norocea held the position of Transilvanian Spokesman in the Ottoman Empire, and after Mihai Viteazul got to the throne he became Great Chancellor.
Cultural artifacts dating to this period have been found near the Saint George Church, built in 1656 – the first storeyed building raised on brick columns in what is today South Romania – near the Trivale Hermitage and near the Art School where artists like Simion Popescu, Nicolae din Pitesti and Petre Zugravul studied.
In written documents dating from 1640 there are mentions about beautiful churches, and also about the 200 urban homes and their 1000 inhabitants, at the sighting of which any traveler would be deeply impressed. In 1656, ruler Constantin Serban and his Lady Balasa built in the heart of the city, on the foundations of an older church, the Saint George Church.
Another ruler, respectfully mentioned in history, Constantin Brancoveanu, built lots of houses in Pitesti and, alongside his courtiers, spends many copious autumns in his vines on the hills nearby.
The importance of the settlement continued to grow. There is evidence of the existence in 1746 of seven or eight churches. In 1780 the population reaches the number of 1250 inhabitants, and there are about 250 homes.
The official documents dating to 1824 mention 1011 families, 700 homes and approximately 5000 residents. In 1831 there were 47 existent job types and in 1832, the statistics mention 773 inhabited homes, 14 in the suburbs, 4 residential districts, 5 tanning yards, as well as 1000 domestic animals in the care of 4000 inhabitants.
The start of the modern era is linked with the name of Tudor Vladimirescu, thanks to his strategic presence in the Pitesti – Campulung-Muscel – Targoviste triangle, having been considered the centre of the revolutionary resistance. The military camp in which Tudor Vladimirescu ended his life is today the Golesti Museum.
After 1821, the handicraft production thrived, and conditions were created for the cumulating of capitals. In 1845 Pitesti had a hat factory, a soap factory, two leather production units, one producing tobacco and one producing carpets and mats. Roads connecting Pitesti to Bucharest, Slatina and Campulung were built and well maintained.
In the history of every nation there are families, dynasties which play an important role. Their actions and ideas can change the way a community evolves. Such families which linked to Pitesti are Golescu (Dinicu, Alexandru, Nicolae) and Bratianu (Ion, Dumitru, Ionel, Vintila, Dinu, Gheorghe). Great men like them shaped our history, made Romania what it is and will be, and it is them that we should be grateful to for our past, present and future.
An important chapter is that of the 1848 Revolution when, at the proposal of Christian Tell, Pitesti played an important role in the defence of the Revolution in case of an outside attack. One of the regiments of General Magheru took refuge here. The National Guard was set up in Pitesti, and in a short period of time it became one of the strongest units of it’s type in Tara Romaneasca (which was most of today’s southern Romania).
In 1848 took place in Pitesti many theatre representations of C.D. Aricescu’s play “Trambita Unirii”. The unification of the Principalities in 1859 gave a chance to all the rural and urban settlements to develop. On the 13 th of September 1872 Pitesti was made an important railway junction, thanks to the construction of the Pitesti - Bucharest - Buzau railway.
When the Alexandru Ioan Cuza visited Pitesti, on the 19 th of June 1859, he was presented a brief sketch of the city. The settlement was divided into four sections, had 1400 homes in which there were 7000 residents, a school in which the language was Romanian, two private schools – one German, the other Greek – and an Academy for Young Ladies, where classes were taught in German and French. There were also 10 orthodox churches, one Armenian church, a synagogue and a hospital with housing for 30 patients. By the end of the 19 th century there were already 58 streets, on which walked the 15,669 inhabitants of Pitesti.
The city of Pitesti also played an important part in the War for the State Independence, munch of this thanks to the struggle and sacrifice of its brave soldiers, volunteers and personalities like Doctor Nicolae Codreanu. During the period between 1877 and 1919, men of great value were born in Pitesti: artist Rudolf Schweitzer--Cumpana, dramatist Alexandru Kiritescu, critic and interpreter Ion Trivale, politicians such as Armand Calinescu, journalist and novelist Tudor Teodorescu-Braniste, folklore culler and folk music performer Gheorghe Teodorescu-Zavaidoc etc.
During the period between the World Wars, writers Vlad Musatescu and Ion Saliste were born in Pitesti. Also, during the same period of time, writer Liviu Rebreanu, poet Ion Pillat, dramatist Mihail Sorbul, geographer George Valsan and others developed their activity in Pitesti.
The many funerary monuments from The Cemetery of Heroes (“Cimitirul Eroilor”) remind us of the sacrifice of our fellow countrymen in the Second World War.
During the communist regime, which begun in 1944, the persecution of the political, intellectual and military elites was strongly carried out in the name of the “new” elites. Many great personalities fell victims, and the Pitesti prison was considered unique, because it used the method of “reeducation” by torture on the anticommunists, and it was used especially on college students. The violence wave diminished in the 60’s, when Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Nicolae Ceausescu, the rulers of Romania, declared themselves as the “nationalist communism” promoters, and tried to diminish the soviet influence and have their own political relationships with the western world.
At the beginning of the70’s, the communist regime hardened itself. The citizen, to which, according to the official declarations, all the state’s efforts were dedicated to, became a senseless notion. Censorship and the denial of all human rights meant the fall of the society’s elite and the birth of a uniform social mass, in which the individual was considered a mechanism.