Why Peles castle is the one place you can’t miss in Romania
Peles Castle is the most beautiful castle we’ve seen anywhere and was, without a doubt, our sightseeing highlight in Romania. Spanky looks at me funny when I throw fancy words around but I’ll say one here because it applies perfectly to Peles: it is absolutely sumptuous. There, I’ve said it and still feel like a man. This post covers why Peles castle is the one place you can’t miss in Romania.
The castle is actually more of a ‘palace’ than a castle and many have compared the style to that of Neushwanstein castle in Bavaria. Even the dramatic mountain scenery in the background is similar to that of Neushwanstein’s. But Peles, for us, is the more beautiful of the two castles.
The building of the castle was started in 1873 and was intended to be the summer residence of Romania’s longest serving monarch, King Carol I. The architect was a German, Johannes Schultz, chosen for his plan combining different classical European styles. Construction took 10 years and Peles Castle was inaugurated on October 7, 1883. It was the first castle in Europe to include central heating and electricity.
The interior of the castle is pure wonder with rich wood, stained glass windows, Murano crystal chandeliers, ebony and ivory sculptures, fine porcelain and even walls covered with Cordoba leather. Most of the style is German Renaissance but you can also see elements belonging to the Italian Renaissance, Gothic, German Baroque and French Rococo style. Peles has 170 rooms, many with dedicated themes from different cultures. It also has 30 bathrooms.
Peles continued to be used as a summer residence by the royal family until 1948 when it fell into the hands of the communists. They turned it into a museum. Then, in 1975, Nicolae Ceaușescu closed it down. He did however host some colourful world leaders here, people like Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Muammar al-Gaddafi, and Yasser Arafat.
Tours and prices at Peles. We took the regular tour (you can only take a guided tour) which cost 50 Lei each. But this tour only covers the ground floor, not the 2nd floor. You can also get a tour covering the 2nd floor for 100 Lei each. Peles Castle Website.
It’s expensive: but we really thought Peles was incredible and worth the money.
Below: Tours that include Peles
Besides Peles, Sinaia has many attractions for a place this small. 5 minutes from Peles, Pelisor Castle is built by the same architect and warrants a visit. There is also the Sinaia Monastery which has two Byzantine-style churches, the oldest dating back to 1695. Finally you can take a gondola up the mountain where you can have a coffee overlooking the valley below. But besides all these sights, it is just a really pretty town surrounded by some impressive geography. We regretted not having spent more time here and it will be the first place we come back to if ever in Romania again.
Related: Castles and Fortresses that you may have never heard of
Accommodation in Sinaia
If you decide to spend a night of a few days here (I think it merits at least a night) I recommend the Regal 1880 (luxurious stay in a historic building – but at Romanian prices).
Sinaia is on the Brasov – Bucharest train line and there are trains stopping from both directions almost every hour. Travel time from Brasov is 1 hour, from Bucharest 1.5 hrs.
Related: compare this to Bran Castle, Romania’s most famous castle.
Related: Kotor (Montenegro) and St. John Fortress
Also (from Mapping Spain): The Alcázar of Segovia – one of Spain’s most beautiful castles
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Thank you for visiting Romania and for sharing your experience. Peles Castle is one of my favorite castles and many friends who have visited it share my opinion. I love the entrance hall, the music room and the Moorish room, you can really tell that Queen Mary had a hand in decorating most of the rooms of the castle.
Thank you very much for the comment Luminita. Totally agree with you – we’ve been to many palaces/castles (including Neushwanstein) and Peles is still our favorite 🙂
Thank you for the very nice, informative story on Peles Castle and – of course – for visiting Romania!
Thank you Simion. We will be back one day. We spent a month in Brasov and explored a bit in the area but I know there’s lots more to see 🙂
i remember the castle well. I hadn’t expected it to be so amazing, it was a real highlight of Romania.
When I have my own castle it’s going to look just like this! Anywhere with 30 bathrooms, a Moorish reception room and an armoury like that get’s my vote. Our armoury at home (yes, we have one instead of an office!) is rather pathetic in comparison, with just a few dusty old spears and shields from Africa! Coz you never know who might intrude. Have to say this looks just as good if not better than New Neuschwanstein!
Yes, I can see having an armoury may be a good thing, you never know when someone comes to the door asking for money for charity. I find that an old spear usually takes care of that.
I’d actually like to have a dungeon. But it would have to be far away from the bedroom so the screaming doesn’t keep me up 😉
You were right, this castle looks way better then the famous Drakula’s one. Great photos 🙂 You were lucky to get a great sunny day!
It was the most gorgeous fall day. And the castle is gorgeous.
WOW, I’ve been to a lot of castles but this one is truly unique! I love that you can buy a photo pass, which you put to good use bringing us these images of a fairy tale castle in Romania.
The cost is ridiculous though and they should make it clearer. Imagine, you buy a ticket for a tour and then they tell you that you can’t take photos? And it’s too late to get the photo pass? And its costs more to take photos (32 Lei) than the actual cost of the tour (20 Lei)? Just weird.
We just remembered to ask because its happened to us on a few other tours in Budapest and Romania where they tell you you can’t take photos. You come to a place like Peles you HAVE to take photos. I just read a post on Peles by Wandering Earl where he didn’t want to spend the money – come on, you’ve travelled all this way to see one of the most beautiful castles in Europe and you’re going to be a tightwad about 32 Lei? (about $10). So why bother even going?
This was a great finish to your visit to this part of the world. We look forward to visiting the Balkans next summer and your posts have been invaluable. However, when trying to choose a location for our vacation next summer, my husband really wanted it to be South Africa (I won this time!). So, I am definitely looking forward to your thoughts on Cape Town and the surrounding regions. Safe travels!
Thanks so much Jessica, means a lot when someone says our posts helpful. We’re planning to be back to the Balkans sometime in the spring/summer, we really enjoy that part of Europe. It’s a little rougher around the edges but that also makes it more rewarding. Who knows, maybe our paths overlap?
Just landed in Cape Town a couple of hours ago. First impressions good and people friendly. We’ll be taking a bit off time off blogging while we settle in but so picturesque here that I’m sure won’t be long until I’m posting photos.
Thanks again for the comment 🙂
Nice piece Frank ! Another case of the most beautiful , stunning sister being overlooked for more popular (and no-one knows why…) ‘ugly duckings’ ….? Seems that one of the big advantages (and attractiveness) of Peles is that although its a very modern castle, (which is pretty rare in and of itself) , it was built to look ‘old’ , ‘romantic’and ‘classic’ – even fairy-tale – integrating so successfully so many different architectural and artistic origins, which give it its so unique and particular , eclectic style. And unlike Neuschwanstein , it was a ‘real working and inhabited ‘ castle until the late 1940s. A really spectacular and beautiful place . And a terrific ‘highlight’ on which to end up your Romanian sejour . Thanks for the great post.
Thanks Tony. Yes, between Peles and the German Fortified churches we really finished Romania on a high note. Even the Romanians, who we haven’t thought of as very friendly, surprised us over the last week. Maybe because the weather was good and everyone is happy when it’s sunny? Anyway, finishing up with nice memories of Romania.