Perched high atop a 70 m (229 ft) tall rock in the Carpathian Mountains, in the heart of Transylvania, Bran Castle owes its appeal to good looks, a rich history and a world-famous legend. With its instantly recognizable asymmetric towers and turrets covered in red tiles, 57 cozy, lived-in rooms filled with antique furniture and enough history to fill a library, the 14th century castle has a lot to offer. But arguably, its strongest appeal comes from its association with the legend of Dracula, which attracts visitors from all over the world eager for a meeting with the Count, especially around Halloween.
A stunning example of German New-Renaissance architecture, the 19th century Peleș Castle resembles a grand alpine villa. Combining Italian and German aesthetics, it features 160 lavishly decorated rooms and hosts one of the most valuable collections of art and decorative objects in the country. Some of the treasures include Murano glass and crystal chandeliers, a collection of 4,000 weapons and German stained-glass windows. Peleș was the world’s first castle to be fully powered by electricity produced locally in it’s own power plant. Peleș Castle’s Theatre Hall, adorned with ceiling paintings and wall frescoes by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, hosted the first film projection in the country. The heart of Queen Marie of Romania has been kept at Peleș Castle since 2005.
The beautifully preserved Corvin Castle, is one of Romania’s most important Gothic-style buildings. Erected in the 15th century, the medieval castle was used as a fortress until Transylvanian ruler Iancu de Hunedoara made it his residence. Among the parts of the castle preserved from that period are the gallery and the keep, a defense tower, the Capistrano Tower, the magnificent Knights’ Hall, the Diet Hall, adorned with painted medallions and the Club Tower. The castle’s high buttresses, inner courtyards and the drawbridge add to its fairytale air. Impressively, the castle also features a water well with the depth of 30 meters (98 ft).
Bonțida Bánffy Castle
Featuring an eclectic style that combines Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Neo-gothic elements, the Bonțida Bánffy Castle became one of the most famous Romanian castles when it started hosting the Electric Castle festival in 2013. Built in the 15th century, the castle was put to the ground and rebuilt several times, the last time being in WWII. In 1944, German troops devastated the building in retaliation for its owner’s political activities, after he initiated negotiations with the Hungarian government to switch sides and fight against Nazi Germany. During communism, the building was used as a drivers school, a farm and a hospital. The castle is currently being restored.
The Sturza Family’s Miclăușeni Castle was built in Neo-Gothic style during the 19th century. It is owned by the Metropolitan Church and part of the Miclăușeni Monastery. Decorations include gothic towers, medieval armor and Latin phrases written on the walls. After it was turned into a hospital during WWII, famous Romanian composer George Enescu visited the injured and played violin to cheer them up. Later, during communism, the Miclăușeni Castle was turned into an explosives deposit.
A Neo-Romanian building, the Cantacuzino Castle in the mountain resort of Busteni was erected in the 20th century at the request of a Romanian prince. Surrounded by a park featuring waterfalls, sparkling fountains and a grotto, the castle’s interior is decorated with stained glass, marble fireplaces and mosaics. The castle has a collection of coats of arms and a frieze displaying votive paintings featuring notable members of the aristocratic family of Cantacuzino. Although it was only opened in 2010, the castle is attracting more and more visitors.