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Peleș Castle | © Jace Johnson / Flickr
Peleș Castle | © Jace Johnson / Flickr

A Brief History of Peleș Castle

Picture of Georgeta Gheorghe
Updated: 13 February 2017

Set against the scenic backdrop of the Bucegi Mountains, Peleș Castle is a stunning example of German Neo-Renaissance architecture. Regarded by many as one of the most charming castles in Romania, it features lavishly decorated rooms filled with unique art treasures. Most interestingly, the nearby Pelișor Castle (Little Peleș), part of the same complex, safeguards the heart of Queen Marie of Romania, one of the country’s most beloved monarchs.

Peleș Castle overlooks the quaint town of Sinaia, one of the favorite destinations of Romanian aristocracy. The views, the stimulating and refreshing climate, and the charming villas that dot the town prompted Romanian King Carol I of Romania (1866-1914) to pick Sinaia as the place of his luxurious summer residence, Peleș Castle. Throughout his rule and that of his descendants, the castle served as his official royal residence, welcoming dignitaries of the highest rank, as well as a home and a place of cultural significance, thanks to his wife, Queen Elisabeth, Queen consort of Romania, who was a poet and a painter.

From the point of view of its architecture, Peleș Castle is one of the most representative Romanian monuments built in the revival style. Works on the castle started in 1873. By the time it was completed in 1914, some of the best architects in Europe had brought their personal touch to a harmonious blend of styles.

Peleș Castle features 170 rooms decorated in the Art Nouveau, Imperial, Biedermeier, Rococo, Turkish, Moorish styles, and more. One of the most spectacular of them, the Florentine Room, features a gilded ceiling, a fireplace in Paonazzo marble, and is decorated with Renaissance paintings, Murano glass chandeliers, and closes with cast bronze doors adorned with feminine characters and floral motifs.

The castle’s Moorish Room, which served as a gentlemen’s smoking room, features furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl, velvet curtains, and a Carrara marble fountain, a replica of a fountain found in a Cairo mosque.

The rooms host a rich collection of paintings, statues, furniture, tapestries, rugs, fine china, and ivory. Some of the Castle’s treasures include a unique old arms collection, the wood-carved spiral staircase, and the castle’s 400 stained glass windows, to name but a few. The castle’s theater room, whose ceiling painting and decorative frieze were made by Austrian painters Gustav Klimt and Frantz Matsch, hosted in 1906 the first film projection in the country. The castle’s old music room features canvases by Dora Hitz, the German-born court painter of the Romanian royal family, depicting fairytales put into lyrics by Queen Elisabeth, who wrote poetry and painted under the pen name Carmen Sylva.

The Peleș Castle complex also comprises the Pelișor Castle, the residence of Carol I’s nephew, King Ferdinand and his wife, Queen Marie of Romania. Revered for her diplomatic and charitable work, especially during World War I, the British-born granddaughter of Queen Victoria succeeded in becoming a well-loved figure of modern Romanian history. As per her wish, upon her death, her heart was first placed in a chapel in Balchik, a coastal town that briefly belonged to Romania, where she also built a castle. Since 2015, the monarch’s heart lies in the Pelișor Castle, where it was placed with honors in the presence of her descendants.