I love castles! I love palaces too! Peles Castle in Romania feels like a palace. I love to gaze at all the beautiful museum quality ‘stuff’ and imagine myself living at that location during that period of time. I hate the red rope that bars me from touching everything.
Peles Castle was built in the 19th century by King Carl I. He commissioned the Castle for the royal family’s summer residence. It took 300 workers 2 years to build. The Castle sits on a hilltop in the Carpathian Mountains (aka Transylvanian Alps); the views from the gardens are gorgeous. The King was German and the castle feels like Bavaria; it is a perfect fit for the mountain setting. “Dozens” of gold coins with the Kings image were buried under the cornerstone of the Castle; today they are known as ‘the small treasure under the castle’. Peles Castle is without a doubt a Romanian treasure and it is easy to understand why it has been called the most beautiful castle in Europe.
You know you are about to see something special when you must cover your shoes with plastic slippers before entering and ornate does not even begin to describe the Castle. It consists of 160 rooms; 80 are bedrooms and 30 are bathrooms. Each room is decorated in a different style or theme. There is a Concert Hall, Music Room (India), Turkish Salon, Great Salon (Italy), Council Room (Switzerland), Moor Hall, and so much more. The Royal Library has a secret door and the 60 seat Theater with royal box showed the first movie projection in Romania in 1906.
King Carol spared no expense. Peles Castle was the first European castle to have electricity, it even has its own power plant. The Castle has hot and cold running water, central heat and central vacuum system. The stain glass roof of the foyer opens mechanically and there is a small elevator for the royal family. Although there are fireplaces in most rooms they are for show and were not used to protect the furnishings from smoke damage.
The royal family went into exile in 1947 and Peles Castle was confiscated by the Communist Party. It was used for visiting dignitaries for a period of time. The Castle was declared a museum in 1953. At one point the Communist Party wanted to transform the Castle into a residence for protocol. They were told the Castle had a wood fungus harmful to humans and it was closed to the public between 1975-1990. After the 1989 revolution the Castle was returned to the family and then back to the state. I don’t advocate dishonesty but that wood fungus line likely saved this amazing Castle and was genius!
Nearby Pelisor Castle (aka Little Peles) was built for King Ferdinand. Make sure you allow enough time to view both castles. The royal gossip is this Castle was actually built for his wife, Queen Mary, who didn’t care much for him, possibly had a child (or two) from other men and while she is buried next to him she had her heart buried elsewhere!
Visiting Peles Castle
Peles Castle is a two hour drive or train ride from Bucharest near the town of Sinaia. You can make this a day trip or stay overnight in this popular ski resort town. Other attractions include Sinaia Monastery, Casino, gondola rides up the mountain and hiking. Or, if you have limited time, take a Castle Tour and visit Peles Castle, Bran Castle and the city of Brasov. It is a long day, you are on someone else’s time table and will not make stops in the cute towns as you drive through the mountains. Please note there is an extra charge to take pictures in the Castle and you will not be allowed to use flash.