Sinaia: Peleș Castle


Located in Sinaia (120 km north from Bucharest), Peles Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. The construction of Peles Castle started in 1873 in wood, stone, bricks and marble and comprises more than 160 rooms, under the command of the Viennese architect Wilhelm Doderer and was continued in 1876 by his assistant, Johann Schultz de Lemberg. Inaugurated in 1883, Peles Castle, built in Neo – Renassaince style, was finished in 1914.
King Carol I of Romania (1839 – 1914) first visited Sinaia in 1866 and felt in love with the beautiful mountain landscapes surrounding the place. In 1872, the king purchased 1,300 sq. km. of land near the Piatra Arsa river and commissioned the construction of a royal hunting preserve and summer retreat on the property. The foundation was laid for Peleș Castle on August 22, 1873.
The Peles Castle was inaugurated on October 7, 1883. Several other buildings, annexed to the castle, were built simultaneously: The Guard’s Chambers, The Economat Building, The Foisor Hunting House, The Royal Stables, and the Electrical Power Plant. The Sipot Villa was constructed later. This would serve as the work site of architect Karel Liman. Liman would later supervise the building of Pelisor (1889-1903, the future residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary of Romania) as well as of the King’s Ferdinand Vila in the Royal Sheepfold Meadow.
The representative style used is German Renaissance, but one can easily discover elements belonging to the Italian Renaissance, Gothic, German Baroque and French Rococo style.
Peles Castle is surrounded by seven terraces decorated with statues (sculptured by the Italian, Romanelli), stone-made-wells, ornamental vases and Carara marble. The architects used an abundance of wooden decoration, both for the exterior and for the interior of the castle, which confers a very special quality to the building.
Guided visit tours are available from Wednesday to Sunday. One of the tours (45 – 50 min) is limited to the ground floor, another adds the first floor (1h 15 min) and the complete tour includes the second floor (1h 45 min). Admission is charged, and there is an additional photography fee. The Peles Castle is closed in November each year for maintenance and cleaning.


The Peles Castle attractions are:


The Honor Hall completed in 1911, spreads over three floors. Walls are dressed in carved woodwork, mostly European walnut and exotic timbers. Bas-reliefs, alabaster sculptures, and retractable stained glass panels complete the beautiful decor.


The Imperial Suite is believed to be a tribute to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, who visited the palace as a friend of the Romanian Royal Family. Decorated in the sumptuous Austrian Baroque style, the suite has a perfectly-preserved five-hundred-year-old Cordoban tooled leather wall cover.


The Grand Armory or The Arsenal is where 1,600 of the 4,000 pieces of weaponry and armor reside. One of Europe’s finest collection of hunting and war items produced between 14th and 19th century, can be seen. The king added pieces used in his victory against the Ottoman Empire during the War of Independence. Famous are the complete Maximilian armor for horse and rider and a 15th-century German “nobles only” decapitation broadsword. Also a wide array of polearms (glaives, halberds, lances, hunting spears), firearms (muskets, blunderbusses, snaphaunces, flintlocks, pistols), axes, crossbows, and swords (rapiers, sabers, broadswords, and many others).


The Small Armory is where predominantly Oriental (mostly Indo-Persian, Ottoman and Arab) arms and armor pieces are on exhibit, many of them made of gold and silver, and inlaid with precious stones. Included are chainmail armor, helmets, scimitars, yataghans, daggers, matchlocks, lances, pistols, shields, axes, and spears.


The Playhouse is decorated in Louis XIV style, with sixty seats and a Royal Box. Architectural decoration and mural paintings are signed by Gustav Klimt and Frantz Matsch.


The Florentine Room combines revived elements of Italian Renaissance, mostly from Florence. Most impressive are the solid bronze doors executed in Rome; ateliers of Luigi Magni; and the Grand Marble Fireplace executed by Paunazio with Michelangelo motifs.


The Moorish Salon is meant to embody elements of North-African and Hispanic Moorish style. Mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, fine Persian Sarouk and Ottoman Isparta rugs, and Oriental weapons and armor are perhaps the most expressive elements. The salon has an indoor marble fountain.


The Turkish Parlor emulates an Ottoman “joie de vivre” atmosphere—a room full of Turkish Izmir rugs and copperware from Anatolia and Persia. It was used as a smoking room for gentlemen. Walls are covered in hand-made textiles like silk brocades from the Siegert shops of Vienna.