There’s so much history in Romania that you could easily plan a full vacation only with visiting castles and palaces from all around the country. To make things easier for you, we’ve prepared a hand-picked guide of some of the most interesting Romanian castles and palaces. Be sure to include at least one or two in your next tour of Romania.
The summer residence of King Carol the 1st, this fairytale castle from Sinaia is one of the most beautiful in Romania and Europe. Built between 1873 and 1914 with visible elements of the German Renaissance style, Peles was used as a residence since 1883. The castle was constructed after the plans of famous architects of the time such as Karel Liman and Johannes Schultz, using the finest materials available.
A smaller castle on the same property, Pelisor, was used as the residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Maria. Opened as a museum from 1953 to 1975, after the communists nationalized all private properties, Peles Castle functioned again as a museum after 1990. More than 7.6 million tourists visited the castle since then, making it the most popular museum in the country.
Location: Sinaia, Prahova County
Visiting hours on visit.peles.ro
The most impressive monument in Iasi, once the capital of the historical province of Moldavia, the Palace of Culture was built after the plans of Romanian architect Ioan D. Berindei. The construction took place between 1906 and 1925 in a Neo-Gothic style on the ruins of the 15th century medieval princely courts. Used for administrative purposes since the beginning, as the Palace of Justice, this is one of the last public institutions in the country built in this grand architectural style.
It was endowed from the very beginning with modern installations and materials, and from 1955 it served as a museum. The palace recently opened after many years of restoration, and hosts today four museums: the Museum of Art, the Museum of Science, the Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of History.
Location: Iasi, Iasi County
Visiting hours on www.palatulculturii.ro
The 14th century Corvin Castle is one of the best-known medieval castles in Romania, a popular attraction for tourists and also a film location for movies like ‘Henry the 8th’ or ‘The Damned Kings’. This is the largest Gothic castle in Romania and was in the 15th century the residence of Iancu of Hunedoara, a local nobleman who became the King of Hungary, renowned for his strategic victories against the expanding Ottoman Empire.
The castle remained for centuries in the possession of his descendants, the members of the Corvin family. Their name means raven in Latin, also the symbol of the family’s coat of arms.
Location: Hunedoara, Hunedoara County
Visiting hours on www.castelulcorvinilor.ro
One of the most impressive Neo-Romanian style monuments in Romania, this castle belonged to the richest man in Romania from the early 20th century. One of the many properties of Gheorghe Cantacuzino, the descendant of an old Byzantine family, the castle is easily reached from Bucharest and can be visited together with Peles Castle on a one day trip from Bucharest.
Location: Busteni, Prahova County
Visiting hours on www.cantacuzinocastle.com
The Palace of Mogosoaia is located just a few kilometers outside Bucharest, and is one of the most important monuments of the ‘Brancovenesc’ style. The original palace was finalized in 1702 and was the property of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu who ruled Southern Romania between 1688 and 1714. During his time, numerous civil and religious monuments were built in this style, an eclectic mix of local, Byzantine, oriental and Italian Renaissance elements and rich decorations.
In the mid-19th century, the palace already severely degraded was the property of the old noble family Bibescu. Several renovation works started, but they were never completely finalized. The most important renovation works took place between the World Wars, from 1920 until the early 1930s, under the supervision of Martha Bibescu. Working with architects Domenico Rupolo and George Mihai Cantacuzino, she renovated the palace, trying to remain faithful to the ‘Brancovenesc’ style. Luckily enough, the palace, although nationalized by the communists, managed to survive the regime. It functions today as a museum.
Location: Mogosoaia, Ilfov County
Visiting hours on www.palatebrancovenesti.ro
The most visited museum in Romania and by far the most famous castle in the country, Bran Castle is, in fact, a 14th-century medieval fortress built to control the commerce between Transylvania and Southern Romania. In 1920, after hundreds of years of ownership, the administration of the city of Brasov gave the fortress as a gift to Queen Maria as a sign of appreciation for her decisive contribution in making the Great Union of 1918. Queen Maria remodeled and modernized this rock fortress, turning it into one of her favorite royal residences.
Despite its centuries-old history, the castle is best known today for its fabricated links with the myth of Dracula. The historical truth is a completely different one, and we suggest you visit the castle for its beauty and glorious past. There’s definitely no place for vampires there.
Location: Bran, Brasov County
Visiting hours on www.bran-castle.com
Less-known and more remote, the Palace of Ruginoasa is more than worth the trip. Beautifully renovated and open for visits, this small Neo-Gothic palace has a dramatic history including passionate crimes and love betrayals.
It was built at the beginning of the 19th century, and it eventually belonged also to Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the first prince of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Southern Romania.
Location: Ruginoasa, Iasi County
Visiting hours: From Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 – 17:00
The silent witnesses of their own past, many times dramatic, these Romanian castles and palaces are excellent travel destinations if you who enjoy museum visits and history lessons. Each of them brings to the present its own story of past glory and importance, inspiring their visitors to imagine a lifestyle that ended a long time ago.