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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated in the mountain resort of Sinaia, in the Prahova Valley , the Peleș Castle is the most well-known royal residence in Romania, and is a symbol of transition to modernity.
HistoryBuilt by King Carol I of Romania in 1883, the Peleș Castle was intended as a summer hunting retreat for the King and the Royal Family. The first plans for the building were rejected by Carol for the reason of lacking in originality, and eventually the project was undertaken by the German architect, Johannes Schultz, who proposed a mixture of several European styles. Around the castle there are several other lodges, among which the Pelişor Castle, the residence for his daughter, Marie, a hunting lodge, and a power plant, which led to Peleș being the first castle in the world to be fully powered by electricity.
Along with the end of monarchy in 1947, the Peleș Castle was seized by the communist regime and nationalized. Since 1953, it functioned as a museum until 1975, when Nicolae Ceaușescu closed down the castle, being accessible only to military personnel.
A funny story regarding Ceauşescu's intention to establish the castle as a presidential residence states that he was scared by the museographs and convinced otherwise. During that period, the rafters and windows of the castle were being infested with Serpula Lacrymans, a mushroom that attacks wooden structures. To avoid the architectural changes and demolishes that the Ceausescu couple wanted to inflict upon the castle, the museographs warned them that the mushroom is deadly for humans, forcing them to change their mind about moving in, as they ultimately spent only one night at the estate and slept in the gazebo.
After the 1989 revolution, it was re-opened as a museum, and in 2006 the Romanian government returned it to Michael I, the last king of Romania.
ArchitectureThough technically a palace, Peleș is referred to as a castle. It is built in the neo-Renaissance style, mixed with Gothic revival. The interior decoration is dominated by the Baroque style, with Saxon influences on the courtyard facades. With a surface of 3,200 square meters, the castle has 170 rooms, each of them usually decorated with its own theme and function (libraries, armories, galleries), or styled in a certain fashion, from Florentine to Moorish.
Peleș hosts one of the greatest collections of art in East-Central Europe, in the form of paintings, sculptures, furniture, Oriental tapestry and rugs, ceramic, ivory, gold and silverware. The collection of arms and armor surpasses 4,000 pieces from a period of four centuries, while the stained glass is almost entirely of Swiss origin.
VisitingAside from the art exhibits, the castle offers several attractions you shouldn't miss:
The Lobby of HonorA grandiose hall made of nut tree wood, engraved with bas-reliefs and statuettes, and a detachable glass ceiling used to surprise the king's guests on summer evenings.
The Royal LibraryThe Royal Library is of particular interest to the rare books enthusiasts, full of old tomes in leather covers and gilded letters. It also features a secret door, through which the King could retreat to various areas of the castle.
The Music HallThe Music Hall is an important site as it is a musical salon at Queen Elisabeth's behest, and is elegantly decorated with furniture given as a gift by the Maharajah of Kapurtala.
The Florentine HallThe Florentine Hall, also known as the Great Salon, has many impressive features with one of the main features being its wooden-sculpted ceiling, covered in gold and enhanced with two great chandeliers in neo-Renaissance style.
The Theater HallThe Theater Hall, decorated in the style of Louis XIV, with 60 seats and a royal lodge.
During summer (May 18 - September 14) the visiting hours are 11 AM to 5 PM on Tuesday, and 9 AM to 5 PM for the rest of the week, except Monday, when it is closed. During winter, the castle is closed on Monday and Tuesday, and open on Wednesday from 11 AM to 5 PM, and from 9 AM to 5 PM for the rest of the week. The visit consists of the main exhibit and an optional tour. The price for the main exhibit is 20 RON ($5.00) for adults, 10 RON ($2.50) for seniors, and 5 RON ($1.25) (1 euro) for students. The optional tour is priced at 50 RON ($13) (11 euro) for adults, 25 RON ($6.25) for seniors, and 12 RON ($3.00) for students. Permission to take pictures inside will cost an additional 32 RON ($8.00) per camera. During November, the castle is closed for maintenance.
How to Get ThereAs you exit Sinaia, go north on the E60 road, take a left on Aleea Peleşului (Peleș street). From the town of Sinaia the shortest way is on Saniuşului Street, and the distance is about 6 kilometers, so it is walkable.
What Else to VisitThe Pelişor Castle, intended as a residence for princes is right next to the castle and can also be visited. If you have a car or willing to travel past the immediate proximity, you can visit the Bran Castle , situated 50 kilometers away from Sinaia, which is known as Dracula's Castle.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Jan 06, 2015