Built in Neo-Renaissance architecture at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains, in Prahova Valley, in the town of Sinaia, Romania, Peles Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in the world.
Prince Carol I of Hohenzollern (who was to become the king of Romania, under which the country gained its independence in 1877) visited the site of the future castle in 1866, fell in love with the magnificent mountain scenery and decided to built the castle here, as a summer residence.
The construction began in 1873 and the castle was inaugurated on 7th of October, 1883. Several other buildings, annexed to Peles Castle, were built simultaneously: the Guards’ Chambers, the Economat Building, the Foisor Hunting lodge, the Royal Stables, and the Power Plant (Peles was the first European castle entirely lit by locally produced electricity!).
Pelisor (“Little Peles”)
Right next to Peles Castle is Pelisor (“Little Peles“) which used to be the residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary of Romania.
King Ferdinand (who succeeded Carol I) intended to use Peles Castle as a summer residence, but found it too big and overwhelming, so he commissioned the smaller and less extravagant Pelisor Castle (built between 1889-1903 in art-nouveau style).
Can I visit ?
Peles Castle served as a summer residence for the royal family until 1947, when, after King Michael I ‘s forced abdication, the Communist regime took over all royal property. Nicolae Ceauşescu closed the entire estate and the area was declared a “State Protocol Interest Area”.
After the December 1989 Revolution, Peles and Pelisor Castle were re-established as heritage sites and opened to the public as museums.
Peles Castle receives almost half million visitors each year. The tours of the castle are guided, and the complete tour takes around 2 hours and costs 70 lei (16 euros) for adults, plus an extra fee for shooting pictures. Every November the Castle is closed for restoration.
Even though it’s consistently called a castle, by form and function Peles is a palace.
It has over 160 rooms, each with a different function and style (bedrooms, offices, library, concert hall, weapon rooms, tea rooms, card rooms, apartments, a Turkish saloon, children’s play rooms, 30 bathrooms, a music room, a theater hall – the first movie projection in Romania took place here in 1906!) and each of them are decorated in completely different styles and themes, with Turkish, Florentine or French influences. There are interior balconies, wooden spiral staircases, secret passageway behind bookshelves, huge mirrors, statues and paintings.
Nature and surroundings
Peles Castle is surrounded by a beautiful landscape and gardens with fountains, guarding stone lions, marble urns, nice alleys with other decorative pieces. A statue of King Carol I overlooks the main entrance. Many other statues are present on the seven Italian neo-Renaissance terrace gardens, mostly of Carrara marble executed by the Italian sculptor Rafaello Romanelli.
Try the best cakes in the world!
Today, Foisor Hunting House serves as a presidential residence.
The Economat Building and the Guard’s Chambers Building are now hotel and restaurant; here you can have a hot wine and a great variety Romanian cakes (I recommend you try Savarina, Amandina and Ora 12 “12 o’clock“). The cakes are delicious, with syrup, cream or chocolate and can be tasted on the beautiful terrace overlooking the castle and its surroundings.
I love Romania. When are you coming to visit?