You don’t have to be in Germany to visit a German castle…
Back in early March, I headed to Bucharest for the weekend to explore more of Romania, during which time we headed to the beautiful Peleș Castle – one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. Located in the mountain resort town of Sinaia, Peleș Castle is an easy daytrip from Bucharest.
On your approach, the first thing you’ll notice is the incredible setting the castle is located in. The mountainous backdrop makes for some amazing photos on a clear day, and the forests add a classic bit of Transylvanian charm. It’s easy to see why King Carol of Romania fell in love with the area when he visited in 1886.
The setting is quite unique in that it perfectly suits dark ominous clouds for a gothic look, or bright blue skies fit for an Alpine setting.
The exterior of the castle is very impressive. It was inspired by German-style Alpine villas, giving it the look of a very ambitious hunting lodge.
The history of Peleş Castle
The castle was built between 1873 and 1914 on a spot that Romania’s first King, Carol I, reportedly fell in love with.
Born Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the King brought many German influences to his new residence, which was built to resemble a hunting lodge.
At the time of its completion, Peles Castle was a relatively modern castle, featuring full plumbing, flushing toilets and was even fully electrified using locally-produced power.
After the forced abdication of King Michael I in 1947, the castle was rarely used, but was fully restored after the fall of Communism in Romania.
Peleş Castle Interior
Peles boasts over 170 different rooms, many with different themes and styles, including a striking Oriental room and ‘English-style’ taps in all bathrooms. The interior features many Germanic influences and nods to Baden-Württemberg, King Carol’s home region.
Most of the interior is focused around a striking mint-green atrium, decorated with very dark wooden features. The atrium spans several floors, and includes a beautiful spiral staircase, which hovers on the second floor. (Excuse my very blurry photos!)
In the library, you’ll find a secret passageway which led to the King’s private chambers. However, rather than functioning as a secret escape route or a hidden storage room, the passage simply allowed the King to access his offices quicker. Bit boring, if you ask me.
One quirk of the palace is that many doors are disguised to appear like wardrobes, for some reason. I’m not really sure what the reasoning for this was but it’s pretty cool all the same.
To get a better insight into the castle and its rooms, I would really recommend the English-language tour that the castle offers – it delves into the history of the palace and allows you to explore several rooms. However, the tour does get very busy so make sure you stick close to the tour guide to make sure you catch all the information. You can find more information here.
Also in the region
Whilst in Sinaia, you can also explore the simple monastery, located on a small hill above the town.
If you have more time (and access to a car), you can also drive to or through the scenic village of Busteni. The town is home to the less-attractive and far less impressive Cantacuzino Castle, formerly home to one of the richest families in Romania. However, the real draw here is the fantastic views of Bucegi Mountains, which rise up sharply to the immediate West of the town.
Disclaimer: many thanks to Peleş Castle for the complimentary tour, however all opinions stated here are my own.