Massive and having a special shape in manorial fortress style, the house was probably built by cupbearer Costache Jianu, Iancu’s father, around the end of the 18th century, a building consisting of ground floor, first floor and a cellar. The ground floor has the floor situate below ground level by about 20 centimeters and is formed of three rooms of modest sizes, probably the kitchen and food storage spaces, and the main entrance having massive oak doors with iron hinges handmade by the blacksmiths of the time. On the first floor there are three living quarters and a veranda closed by a window oriented due north, the same as the main entrance of the house. The cellar is provided with crenellation in the southern wall and small windows, which were probably used in case of attacks. The monumental ensemble consists of the house, annexes and cottage.
Iancu Jianu, a renowned figure of the history of Caracal, descendant of a middle class boyar family whose members filled different positions both for the regency and in the local administration of the county, has spent part of his life.
Iancu was the youngest of four children of the cupbearer Costache Jianu. He was born in Caracal in 1787. A man of strong character, Iancu Jianu became an outlaw and justice fighter for the poor when he was 23 years old. It is said that he had sworn before priest Antonie Bazaclin – the Painter of Surpatele monastery (where Agapia Jianu, the sister of the Jianu family mother, was mother superior) he would fight to the death against the “boyars of Phanariot descent” who oppressed the Romanian people.
He had good riding and shooting skills, and his appearance was described by Ion Ghica as being: “a short, squat, rosy cheeked, red haired man with a thick short mustache”, wearing “a cloth mantle, trousers and a long jacket, a cap on his head, pistols and a knife with bone hilt on his baldric and balancing a gun in his right hand”.
Although most of the sources state that Iancu did not have a sister, in the legend of the Surpatele Monastery (Valcea County), a place of worship and solace of the Jianu family, it is said that that in 1820, Florica, Iancu’s sister and Tudor Vladimirescu fiancée, was buried here; she was supposedly kidnapped and raped the night of her engagement by captain Stoica, the governor of Oltenia. For this crime he was captured, judged and killed by the outlaw-boyar Iancu Jianu, on his sister’s grave.
For seven years he has been arrested several times and released every time, being freed without punishment, due to the pardons obtained by his brothers in arms.
He was an active participant, ranking captain in Tudor Vladimierscu’s army in 1821. In 1823 he retires to his manor on the outskirts of Falcoiu commune, and died on December 14th, 1842, at the age of 55.
He was buried in Caracal, and in the wall of “Adormirea Maicii Domnului” Church, which was founded by the Jianu family, is built-in the ledger of Iancu Jianu.
In 1949 Iancu Jianu’s house was still occupied, the last owner being Gica Dobruneanu, son of Nae Dobruneanu and Zinca, Iancu Jianu’s daughter. A year later, the house begins to seriously deteriorate, the first part to collapse being the north-west one.
Today, following the reconstruction which had begun in 1957, as a result of long studies and design variants, under the supervision of architect R. Mariani, the house has three entrances, of which one towards the cellar. In a picture of the house dating from 1928 it can be noticed that access in the house was possible through four entrances, of which one was on the first floor, on the eastern side of the veranda, serviced by an exterior wooden staircase.
The legends say that near the house was a 400 m long tunnel towards the southern side of the city and another one towards another house of the Jianu family; the tunnels were used as refuge in case of Turkish invasions or surprise attacks of the posses in pursuit of the outlaw Iancu Jianu.
Following the reconstruction, the house became the “Iancu Jianu” memorial section of the Romanati Museum, which has been inaugurated on September 29th, 1959; the house itself and the valuable pieces it holds in its inventory (the ink bottle and brush, flint pistols, the musket, the baldric, the water bota bag, personal items, pieces of furniture and household items, pictures and documents which belonged the Jianu family), paint a convincing picture of the way of life and social unrest at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.
While visiting the settlement, along with the building itself, as it was when the outlaw brought justice to the poor of the area, one can also admire a series of works of art, such as: “Iancu Jianu” oil portrait by painter Hortensia Popescu, who lived for a considerable period of time in Caracal, the painting of painter D. Stoica “Meeting between Iancu Jianu and Tudor Vladimirescu at a boyar manor”, the lithography of the graphic artist C. Isler “Iancu Jianu and his cohort on the Olt river valley” or the sculpture “Iancu Jianu” made by Vasile Nastasescu.
One can also imagine the manner in which Iancu Jianu helped the poor, by admiring a flint pistol bearing the silver incrusted signature of the outlaw or a psalm book printed in 1784 at Ramnicu Valcea by the hieromonk Clement.
On the pages of the psalm book with wooden binding covered in leather, one can notice notes made by Iancu Jianu, such as:
„In the year 1835, on May 24th, by will of God I have been bestowed with child, a girl, Zinca, baptized by my mother in law Anita Galeseasca and also to remind that our daughter Marita was born in the year 1830, on August 10th.”
Under a psalm in the book he watered his soul from, another slightly altered note:
„The fool and sinner that I am, I have been bestowed with daughter in the year 1835, on May 26th, who has been baptized by my mother in law Anita Galeseasca and has been named Zinca, and the mere mortal that I am, I have made a note of this fact to be remembered so that anyone who reads this shall say God forgive the one who wrote to IANCU JIANU”.
In the courtyard, the “Cross of the Jianu family” has been brought from the outskirts of Caracal, made of two blocks of mountain limous rock, one for the mill machine and the second for the actual cross.
On the face of the cross, there are traces of an inscription which has been so much erased by time, that it can no longer be read. But at the bottom, next to the mill machine, the manufacturing year is barely distinguished: 1844.