Peles Castle from Sinaia (Romania), is nested at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains, in the Prahova Valley and is one of the most beautiful castles in all Europe and in the world.
Short history of Peles Castle
The magnificent Peles Castles, with its fairytale turrets and pointed towers rising above acres of green meadows sprinkled with haystacks, was built as a summer residence by Romania’s longest serving monarch, King Carol I, who died and was buried here in 1914, just months after the castle’s completion.
The building of the Peles Castle began in 1873 under the direct order of the Viennese architect Wilhem Doderer and was continued in 1876 by his assistant, Johann Schultz de Lemberg. During 1877-1879 because of the war they abandoned work. The castle was inaugurated on October 7, 1883. The location for the Peles Castle was chosen by the prince Carol I de Hohenzollern, who was to become a king and it draws its name from the neighboring brooks which passes through the courtyard.
Peles Castle was the first castle in Europe to have central heating and electricity. During Ceausescu’s era, its 160 rooms, each furnished to reflect a different European country, were used as a private retreat for leading communists and statesmen from around the globe as US president Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Peles Castle´s architecture and design
Inaugurated in 1883, Peles Castle is not only a pleasant place during the summer day; it has been conceived to be also a national monument, meant to keep the trophies of the Plevna victory, which explains the castle´s majestic style.
Peles Castle was built in wood, stone, bricks and marble and comprises more than 160 rooms. 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.
Peles Castle´s courtyard in Bramantes style with a fountain in the middle, in the most accurate Renaissance style, pleasantly surprises the visitor. The courtyard has a merry decoration, made out of plants and flowers; all round, the building’s facades are animated by elegant drawings. The interior of the castle is a true wonder, due to the beauty and richness of the sculpted wood and the stained glass windows. As you get in the vestibule, you are on the Honor Staircase, in front of the most important rulers of old Romania: Holy Stephen the Great, and Michael the Brave.
Peles Castle’s interiors are an opulent display of elegant design and historical artifact. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, walls covered with Cordoba leather, Meissen and Sevres porcelains, ebony and ivory sculptures.
Peles Castle most outstanding rooms are the Big Armory Room, the small Armory Room, the Florentine Room, the Reception Room (where paintings and wooden sculptures depicting 16 castles of the Hohenzollerns are exhibited), the Moresque Room, The French Room, the Turkish Room, the Council Room, the Concert Room as well as the Imperial Suite.
Other exquisite attractions at Peles Castle are the statues, the ceramics, the gold and silver plates, the Meissen and Sevres porcelain, as well as the extensive weapon collections are worth mentioning. It is also important to know that Peles Castle shelters one of the most important and most valuable painting collections in Europe, almost 2.000 pieces.
Rembrandt reproductions line the walls of the king’s office at Peles Castle while rows of books in the library conceals a secret passage leading to the 2nd floor of the castle. There is a gallery of mirrors and the dining room has a leather clad ceiling. Scenes from age old Romanian fairytales adorn the stained glass windows in the poetry room.
In the Florence hall, Michelangelo’s reproductions hang below a ceiling carved from glide linden wood. The Venetian room is equally impressive.
Several other buildings, annexed to Peles Castle, were built simultaneously: The Guard’s Chambers, The Economat Building, The Foisor Hunting House with 42 rooms designed in Swiss style, 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
Almost adjacent to Peles Castle is Pelisor (“Little Peles”). King Ferdinand, who succeeded Carol I, intended to use Peles Castle as a summer residence. Supposedly he found Peles too big and overwhelming, so he commissioned the smaller, art-nouveau style, Pelisor Castle. Pelisor’s 70 rooms feature a unique collection of turn-of-the century Viennese furniture and Tiffany and Lalique glassware.