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Visit Peles, Romania’s most beautiful castle

Need to know

Closest airport: Bucharest International Airport (OTP), located on national road DN1, 120 km from Sinaia.
How to get there by car: DN1 from Bucharest (around 11/2-2 h drive)
Population: 14,000 (Sinaia)
County/Area: Prahova county/central-southern Romania, Wallachia

The majestic Peles castle; photo: @arthur_shev

The Romanian Versailles, as I like to call Peles Castle, is a must-see for anyone visiting Romania. Although I’ve been there more than once, I cannot not be amazed by the many firsts it boasts, the luxury and opulence, and last, but not least, the craftsmanship of the artisans.

This description is obviously subjective, but I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same if you are passionate about stories of royalty, enjoy architecture and beautiful landscape, or love luxury.

Along with Bran Castle and the Palace of the Parliament, Peles Castle is the third tourist attraction in the country that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Statue of King Carol I, the father of Peles
Fragment of the facade
The natural landscape around Peles Castle and a restaurant in the back

Show Contents

How to get there
Prices and programme
History of the castle
Premieres and innovations
Rooms to admire
Accommodation in Sinaia
What to do around

How to get there

Peles Castle is situated very close to Sinaia, a chic mountain resort in the Carpathians, having many tourist objectives.

Coming from Bucharest, you need to take DN1. You can also take A3 highway or DN1A Bucharest-Ploiesti and from there, you continue on DN1. Sinaia is on the road that connects the capital to Brasov. The distance is 130 km and it amounts to 11/2 h or 2, according to traffic. If you come from Brasov, the distance is 45 km.

You can also take the train. From Bucharest there are lots of trains in the direction of Brasov. A ticket can cost from 20 lei (4 euro) to 40 lei (8 euro) according to the type of train.

Me and the Peles in the background

Prices and programme

The castle is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but for prices and full programme, check here. In November the castle closes for general cleaning.

The full ticket for the entire castle (groundfloor and both floors) is 150 lei (30 euro), while Pelisor Castle costs much less, being also very nice.

Those of you who’ve been visiting my blog know that I love pampering my audience with lots of pictures, but posting pictures of the inside is forbidden here. So, you’ll have to settle for outside pics mainly. This time you’ll have to take my word for granted: Peles is beautiful!

Insider tip!: If time permits, make sure to take the full tour. It will not let you down!

Welcome to Peles in spring! photo: @samuel.lunca

History of the castle

The history of the castle (1873-1914) begins with Romania’s first king, Carol I. He arrives to Romania’s throne in 1866 as a prince (becomes king in 1881) and achieves major things during his long reign. He gains the country’s independence, recovers the economy, creates many modern institutions or updates old ones.

Coming from Germany, the king takes things seriously and visits every piece of land. Carol falls in love with the landscape and decides to establish his summer residence in the village called Podu Neagului. This contributes to the development of the area by building a railway line and attracting an aristocratic elite in the area. Later on, the village gets the actual name, Sinaia, and a new, upper class vibe that will put Sinaia on the map.

Details on Peles; photo: @ancadumitrescu

This elegant castle built in Neo-Renaissance style with Swiss chalet aspect served as summer residence for around 6 months a year to the royal family. The castle was completed in 1914 (the death of Carol) and underwent several changes throughout the years. It remained royal residence until 1948, when the communists confiscated it; 5 years later it was turned into a museum.

Although the name of the castle is mainly related to king Carol, it is good to know that queen Elizabeth, Carol’s wife, of Germanic origin as well, was a fervent promoter of art. Carmen Sylva, according to her pseudonym, dedicated all her life to the artistic career, being a natural talent in many fields. It is thanks to her that many Romanian personalities were regularly invited to Peles, such as Enescu, the famous music composer.

The statue of Queen Elizabeth, known in the artistic world as Carmen Sylva

Premieres and innovations

Peles castle boasts many premieres, being from the very beginning one of the most modern castles in Europe. It was the first castle fully supplied by locally produced energy and had its own central heating system by the end of the 19th century. It also had an elevator.

The marvellous Hall of Honour will undoubtedly leave you speechless, but remember to look up and observe the mobile stained-glass ceiling where the King and Queen welcomed the guests. The fact that it is driven by an electric motor is another innovation that offered the guests the possibility to admire the starry sky or take some fresh air.

Queen Elisabeth had good marketing skills. They say that, to promote Romania, the queen had arranged things to make the famous Orient Express stop in Sinaia. Thus, people could visit the beautiful area and spread the word about it.

The castle is surrounded not only by nature….also statues

Rooms to admire

Since the moment you set foot on the vast Peles domain, let yourself be amazed.

You will get carried back in time from the inner courtyard with its painted walls in medieval style. The beauty and sophistication start to make space from the entrance through a monumental marble staircase leading to the Hall of Honour. I was absolutely fascinated by this huge lobby that served as reception space from Emperor Franz Joseph to kings, queens, tzars and princes. The grand hall is 16 m high and contains many decorations of wood, arches, statues, Carrara marble pillars and what not.

Although I totally loved the castle, this is the part that remained deepest in my memory. If you visit, you’ll see how this hall acts like a red thread throughout the entire building.

The medieval-style inner courtyard
Statues and troubadours are plentiful

The castle has 160 rooms and totals 30 bathrooms disposed on the ground floor and two storeys. Royalty and elegance are everywhere. Passionate about artistic life, Carol and Elizabeth (Carmen Sylva) put their refined fingerprint on each square meter of the castle. Every room has a different style, being decorated according to various cultures of the world.

Insider tip!: If possible, take a guided tour to find out more about royalty and the castle.

Although the entire castle is fabulous, here are some aspects worth mentioning:

  • The Hall of Honour is an attraction that looks fantastic with walnut panelling, statues and woodwork decorations.
  • I stood in awe when seeing the Royal Library. It is home to unique manuscripts decorated in gold. It also attracts people less familiar with the world of books because of the secret door, a passageway behind a bookshelf.
  • The Weapons’ Rooms has over 4,000 pieces, including a complete knight and horse armour, unique in Romania.
  • The theatre hall has 60 seats and the royal box, being decorated in the style of Louis XIV.
  • The imperial apartment was decorated for Franz Joseph (emperor of Austria-Hungary) for the Royal Jubilee in 1906. It is the largest Neo-Baroque suite in the castle comprising the office, the bedroom and the sitting room. It has oak and wood panels, while the walls are covered in Cordoban leather.
  • The Music Room hosted several music evenings organized by Queen Elizabeth. It is very romantic and contains furniture received as a gift from the Maharajah of Kapurtala.
  • I was very fond of the Moorish and Turkish rooms with a strong Oriental touch.
  • In the cinema hall you can see paintings made by Gustav Klimt at the beginning of his career.
photo: facebook muzeul national peles
photo: facebook muzeul national peles

Besides Peles Castle, the vast domain houses a smaller castle, called Pelisor Castle, built between 1899-1902 by Carol as residence for his future nephews. It was inhabited by king Ferdinand and his wife, Queen Marie of Romania. Although designed by Karel Liman, the famous royal architect, in Art Nouveau style, Queen Marie of Romania took many of the artistic decisions concerning the palace. Pelisor castle has 99 rooms and is more relaxed, although beautiful as well. The importance of Pelisor resides also as the birthplace of the first king born on Romanian land, Mihai I.

Pelisor Castle
Pelisor seen from above; photo:@vladdmh

Accommodation in Sinaia

There are many accommodation options in Sinaia. Regal 1880 is a luxury residence, Hotel Sinaia has a spa, Vila Micul Castel has a nice garden, or Hotel Bastion is a good choice if you want to accommodate closer to the castle.

What to do around

Reserve enough time to visit Pelisor castle as well. I am so sorry we were short on time on this occasion.

If you love nature and mountains, Sinaia is a good starting point regardless of season. It is surrounded by Bucegi Natural Park, good for hiking and exploring nature. Take the cable car to the altitude 2,000, or discover the area on foot, if you are in good shape.

Not far from Sinaia, you will find Brasov, Rasnov fortress, Bran Castle or Moieciu-Rucar area, all of them worth visiting. For more information on the area, click here.

The Sphynx is just a few km and a hiking trail away

Recommended by TTF:

  • Fabulous castle, one of the most beautiful in Europe;
  • Luxury royal residence filled with elegance and sophistication;
  • Natural mountain landscape.

If you visited Peles Castle, please let me know your opinion in the comments. I’d really like to know how you felt about Peles, compared to other castles.

3 Responses

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