Photo of the Week – The Breathtaking Alps of Transylvania

Romania, Transylvania, Transylvanian Alps, hiking, nature, outdoors, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

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!

Romania, Transylvania, Transylvanian Alps, hiking, nature, outdoors, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

The Other Castles in Transylvania, Romania

Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania

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!

Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Peles Castle

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.

Pelisor Castle in Transylvania, Romania near Sinaia

Pelisor Castle

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.

Great architecture at Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Great architecture at Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Great architecture at Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Note the painting of men holding flags but also how the white spaces look like the profile of two faces looking at each other!

Gardens of Peles Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Indoors at Peles Castle in Romania - St. George and the dragon

The ever-present St. George slaying the cursed dragon! (Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

Clock at Peles Castle in Romania

(Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

Oriental room at Peles Castle in Romania

My favorite: the oriental room! (Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

The majestic dining room at Peles Castle in Romania

The majestic dining room (Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

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.

Pelisor Castle in Transylvania, Romania near Sinaia
Window at Pelisor Castle in Transylvania, Romania near Sinaia

Indoors at Pelisor Castle in Romania

(Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

Child's desk in a bedroom in Pelisor Castle in Romania

Child’s desk (Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

Door detail at Pelisor Castle in Romania

Detail of a door at the castle (Photo courtesy of J. Stanmore)

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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!

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