This scene was what we were rewarded with after arriving at the Cabana Curmatura in the Transylvanian Alps in Romania and hiking on for another hour. I dream of returning to amazing Transylvania. Too bad people’s only notion of it is the legend of Dracula: there is SO much to enjoy and explore there!
On the day we finished the four days of hiking in the Transylvanian Alps, on our way back to Braşov we took a slight detour to visit two very beautiful castles in the Sinaia area of Romania: the Peleş Castle and its sidekick, the Pelişor Castle. While these two castles are not as old or as “famous” as Bran Castle (of Dracula notoriety), they are beautiful and quite evocative of a time and life past. So this post is for “other”, lesser-known castles in surprising Romania!
Brief History of the Peleş and Pelişor Castles
Peleş Castle began being built around 1873-5. It was ordered built by King Charles I of Romania. It became an official summer royal residence around 1883 and it remained so until after World War II when it was confiscated by the communist government. In 2007 it was returned to the ex-royal family though not its contents. The family rents it back to the government to serve as a museum though I have also read that the family sold it back to the government (this could be more recent news). (By the way these are the same ex-royals who still parade themselves at weddings and funerals of other European royal families still using royal titles – I think some folks need to get a grip… But I digress.) A lot of the objects in the castle originated from Austria or Germany. Its main tower reminded me a little bit of the tower of Palace of Culture, in Iaşi.
Pelişor Castle, which sits a short walk away from Peleş, was also ordered built by Charles I but for his heir (and nephew), Ferdinand, to live in. It was built around the turn of the 20th century from 1899-1903. Since then, it shares the same history as Peleş.
Indoors and Outdoors at Peleş Castle
I was about to say (er, write) that my favorite part of this castle was the courtyard and the front yard. Then I remembered the chandeliers I saw and some of the incredible rooms (especially the “oriental” room – how cool!). The castle is worth the detour and worth paying the photo fee to take pictures.
Indoors and Outdoors at Pelişor Castle
While Peleş felt more “grown-up”, Pelişor felt more like a regular home. Not only because it was smaller, more manageable than Peleş but also because it had rooms for little kids on exhibit – it truly felt like a family’s home. You could be forgiven for thinking that at any moment, kids were about to run in.
So while Bran Castle is much better known (or, perhaps, the only known) castle in Romania to folks far from that country, it is a shame if a visitor to Romania makes it to Bran to see its castle and does not take the short detour to see these two gems of castles nestled in the lands around Sinaia. It is well worth the effort!