When traveling to Romania, one should definitely explore the country’s most beautiful castles: Peles Castle, Pelisor Castle, Bran Castle, Cantacuzino Castle, and Corvinus Castle.
Four of them are located very close to Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, and can be visited throughout the year.
Today, we will talk about Peles castle, probably one of the most beautiful castles not only in the country but in Europe, as well. We will travel back time and discover who built the castle and who lived there, where it is located, and how to reach it, when is the best time to visit the Peles castle, what you can see inside, and the visiting hours and days.
A short history of Peles castle
The story of Peles castle starts in 1866 when Carol Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, then a German Prince, arrives in the Romanian United Principalities to become the ruler of the country and later king.
Looking for the perfect setting to build his residence, he stopped in nowadays Sinaia mountain resort, very close to the border between Wallachia and Transylvania. He was charmed by the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains, the scenery reminding him much about the German mountains where he was coming from.
Transylvania was not part of the Romanian Principalities yet; it was still under Austro-Hungarian occupation. The rumors have it that another reason why Carol decided to build his residence in this place had to do with a promise he made to the Romanian people who wanted to unify the Transylvanian region with the newborn Romanian country. Thus, Sinaia became a symbolic position, a promise that the border that separated both regions was soon to disappear, placing the royal castle in the center of the unified country.
The construction of the castle
Peles Castle was built at the initiative of King Carol I to serve as a summer residence, invested with political, cultural, and symbolic functions.
From 1873 until 1875, there have been works for the castle's foundation, and since 1875 the construction began. The first inauguration took place in 1883, followed by several years during which the castle was extended and modernized until 1914 when King Carol 1st died.
The main architects who designed the castle and extended the construction until 1914 were: Wilhelm von Dodere, Johannes Schultz, Émile André Lecomte du Noüy, and Karel Liman.
The castle is built in German Neo-Renaissance style, and it has 160 rooms, out of which 30 are bathrooms. It boasts a beautiful Royal garden with seven terraces decorated with stone statues, fountains, and Carrara marble ornamental pots. Here you can admire the statues of King Carol 1st and his wife, Queen Elisabeth. There is one point in the garden where you can stand and take a picture of the whole complex. But to find it, you need to get here first.
The importance of Peles castle
Peles castle had great importance in the history of our country. It became the summer residence of the Royal family, who spent quite a long time here, from May until November. For the rest of the year, they stayed in Bucharest.
At Peles castle, important meetings were held, such as the Crown Council from 1914 when the neutrality of Romania during WWI was decided.
The castle housed many personalities of the time, writers, musicians, but also kings and queens. The most important visit was that of the old emperor of Austro-Hungary, Franz Joseph, in 1896.
It is here wherein 1893; the future King Carol II was born, the first king of the dynasty born on Romanian soil and the first baptized in the Orthodox religion. Later, in 1921, his son, King Mihai I, was born in the Foisor building near Peles castle. In the same year, the wedding of Princess Ileana, one of the sisters of Carol II, took place in the castle, attended by a lot of personalities of the time.
How to reach Peles castle?
If you wish to visit Peles castle, you need to know that it is quite easy to reach it:
- By train – from Bucharest Gara de Nord train station, there are almost every hour trains from Bucharest to the direction of Brasov. Also from Brasov, there are trains to Bucharest direction passing through Sinaia. You have to get off the train at Sinaia station and from there climb the steps that will lead you to the castle. It is a long walk (around 30 minutes) but very pleasant.
- By car – there is also the possibility of renting a car and going by yourself to the castle. It is not very difficult to reach it as once you arrive in Sinaia mountain resort, there are many signs showing the castle. You can park the car in the dedicated parking space of the royal complex (a fee applies for the parking) and then very easily arrive at the castle. A disadvantage would be the traffic which is very bad on weekends during the high season. In these conditions, the train is for sure the best option.
- By bus – some regular coaches operate transfers from Bucharest to Sinaia or Brasov. They will stop at Sinaia train station, and from there you can continue your walk all the way to the castle. The traffic is also a problem most of all during weekends as it will last longer the journey to the mountain resort.
Stunning interior design
Once you arrive at Peles castle, take your time and walk in the royal gardens, admire the castle from outside and then continue with the visit inside.
The interior is probably even more overwhelming. It suffered many changes during the 39 years of construction. The style differs from chamber to chamber, from German-style to Moorish style, from Italian to Turkish decorations. The woodwork will definitely impress you thanks to Bernhard Ludwig from Vienna, who was the main decorator of the castle. Also, the numerous stained-glass windows brought from Germany and Switzerland are stunning and beautifully complete the interior of the chambers.
On the ground floor, one can see:
- The Hall of Honour, former interior courtyard, is where you will admire a mobile stained-glass ceiling and the rich woodwork decorations. It is here where the King and the Queen welcomed official guests.
- The Weapons’ Room is where we like to joke that the “toys for boys” are kept. King Carol, I was also a passionate collationer. One can admire part of his weapons collection (almost 1400 pieces from Europe, Asia, and Africa dating from different centuries).
- You will continue with the King’s office and find out more about his discipline and dedication to his work.
- In the Library room, you will admire part of the book collection of the castle. Once counting thousands of books, now the only couple of hundreds are still seen in this room, the rest of them being preserved at the National Library in Bucharest. Apparently, whenever feeling tired or indisposed, the king used a secret door from the Library room and escaped in no time to the royal apartments at the 1st Take your time, and you will find it for sure.
- The Music room and the Italian room are probably the most romantic places in the castle, where you can admire many beautiful paintings and art objects.
- The dining room is another beautiful place to see, followed by the Moorish room, apparently the king’s favorite one, and the Turkish room. The cinema hall is the last room on the ground floor that can be visited. It is here where you will see original paintings signed by Gustav Klimt at the beginning of his career.
On the first floor, one can visit:
- The Concert Hall with unique musical instruments
- The Imperial Apartment, which was arranged in 1906 on the occasion of the visit (which was not held) of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I, invited to the 40th anniversary of the reign of King Carol I
- The court ladies’ bedrooms
- A crystal chandelier from Bohemia beautifully illuminates the royal bedrooms.
Peles castle was also very modern with many facilities. It had electricity thanks to a small electric plant built along the small river of Peles, which flows right next to the castle.
Also, the castle features an electric vacuum cleaner, a central heating system, an elevator for 2 people, and a telephone. All these facilities were very modern considering the time when they were installed.
Visiting hours at Peles castle
Peles castle can be visited all year round from Tuesdays to Sundays. On Mondays, the castle is closed.
Practical tips – The best time to visit Peles castle
It is desirable to avoid visiting Peles castle during weekends in the warm season as it is very crowded and you can wait too long to enter. Also, it is better to visit the castle in the afternoon. In the morning, many tour buses stop here with large groups, and the pleasure of visiting the castle will be gone for good.
Kindly note that you can visit the castle on an organized trip from Bucharest and enjoy having a tour guide with you to make the proper presentation of the castle inside. As an individual, you will not have a tour guide with you, as the castle does not offer this facility for individual tourists. There are in each room some info panels, but for this castle particularly, the panels cannot tell you so many stories about the royal family of Romania who lived there, intrigues and did you know stuff.
Tickets at Peles castle
To buy tickets, you need only cash, Romanian currency (Lei). There is an ATM along the main alley on your way to the castle, and you can use it in case you need cash.
Also, depending on the tour you wish to take inside, there are different prices as bellow:
Ground floor exhibition (45min):
Adults – 30 Lei
Retired – 15 Lei
Pupils and Students – 7.5 Lei
Card Euro <26 – 7,5 Lei
Ground floor + first floor exhibitions (1h15min):
Adults – 60 Lei
Retired – 30 Lei
Pupils and Students – 15 Lei
Card Euro <26 – 15 Lei
Note that there is an additional tax that you need to pay if you wish to take photos inside the castle: 30 Lei per photo camera.
You will find more info about the official visiting hours and the tickets for Peles castle on the museum's official website.
Pelisor Castle, the small version of Peles castle
I mentioned in the previous chapter another castle, Pelisor castle, located very close to Peles castle.
Pelisor Castle represents the former summer residence of the second Royal couple of Romania, King Ferdinand and Queen Mary. It was inaugurated in 1893 and offered as a wedding gift to Ferdinand and Mary.
A lot smaller than its older “brother,” Pelisor castle bears the sign of the artistic views of Queen Mary, who decorated it in Art Nouveau, Byzantine, and Neo-Romanian style. It is a cozy castle about which we will talk in a different article.
Another aspect that you need to consider before visiting Peles castle is that despite most of the European castles, Peles still boasts the original furniture and decorations in the way it used to when the Romanian royal family lived here. The castle still belongs to the Royal family of Romania after losing it during the communist regime, but it remained open to the public.
After Bran Castle, Peles Castle is considered the most visited museum in Romania with a unique value of art and history.
This is the reason why Peles castle is included in all our tours, quite the highlight of any journey in Romania, no matter how long or short, and all our tourists are impressed by its story.