Peles Castle: Royal Legacy and Romania’s Finest Castle
Peles Castle is the most impressive castle in Romania and a must-see attraction if you’re passionate about stories of royalty, splendid architecture and history. The summer residence of the royal family until 1948 when it was confiscated by the communist regime, the castle from Sinaia is today, like in its first years, one of the most beautiful castles in Europe.
In 1866, Romania had only partially today’s size. Two of the historical provinces managed to unite, but independence from the Ottoman Empire was still needed in order to have the union strengthened. It was Romania’s first king, Carol the 1st of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who managed to obtain this major national goal. The Prince of Romania from 1866 and a King of Romania from 1881, Carol the 1st built Peles Castle, a royal residence that became a lifetime project until his death in 1914.
The future king of Romania loved the Carpathian landscapes from his new country, particularly the one from Podul Neagului, a small mountain village he visited in his first months in Romania. He bought a large piece of land here in 1873 when the construction of the Peles Castle began. The presence of a royal residence brought many changes to Podul Neagului. Its name changed to Sinaia, a railway line passed through it and many aristocratic families started building their own residences in Sinaia or close by.
A lifetime project
The construction of the castle started in 1873 and by 1883 it was suited to host the royal family who spent six months every year here during the time of Carol the 1st. Numerous and ample architectural works were done until 1914, the castle being inspired by the German Neo-Renaissance architecture, a close tie with the King’s German origins. Many teams of architects and designers worked throughout the years, and among them were Johannes Schultz, from 1873 to 1883, and Karel Liman, from 1896 to 1924.
From the very beginning, Peles Castle was one of the most modern in Europe. It was the first castle on the continent fully supplied by electrical power – it had its own electrical unit – and one of the few with a central heating system, an elevator and all the best comfort of the time. With a total number of 160 rooms, including a theatre hall and a concert hall, seven terraces decorated with statues of the King and the Queen and numerous other decorative objects done from Carrara marble, the castle was an impressive residence fit for its political and cultural functions.
The interior decorations of the castle were given constant attention as the best designers of the time worked on themed styles for each room. Some of the most notable are the Music Room, the Library, the Turkish Salon, the Theatre Hall or the Honor Hall. Passionate not only about architecture, but also about art, Carol the 1st had numerous collections, the number of art objects being estimated at 60,000. One of these unique collections in Romania is the 800 pieces of stained glass done by Gustav Klimt. Given his military background, the king had also a solid knowledge and interest in weapons. His collection from the Weapons’ Room has over 4,000 pieces, including a complete knight and horse armor.
A museum from the beginning
The castle was opened as a museum from its first years, the tickets sold financing Queen’s Elisabeta charity works. After the castle was confiscated by the communist regime, most of the art collections were taken to various art museums. Peles Castle served as a museum from 1953 to 1975, and after this year it was only used to host high rank foreign officials. The castle escaped the architectural moods of the ruling dictator couple, Ceausescu, who had the bad habit of destroying historical monuments or to modify them completely. The castle was again opened as a museum in 1990. Three years later, the smaller Pelisor Castle, built later for King Ferdinand and King Maria, also became a museum.
Peles Castle remains the most impressive architectural legacy of the royal family and a key historical and cultural monument. It’s one of those special places you remember even years after visiting simply because it’s unique, monumental and incredible personal despite being a large and sumptuous royal house.
For the visiting schedule and prices, check www.peles.ro
Reserve enough time to visit the castle and don’t forget to visit also Pelisor Castle.