Nestled at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains in the picturesque town of Sinaia, Peleș Castle is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe.
When King Carol I of Romania (1839–1914) visited the location on which the beautiful castle now stands, he was amazed by the stunning scenery of the Carpathian Mountains that surround it. The construction of Peleș Castle was commissioned by King Carol, and on August 22, 1873, the foundations were laid in the form of a hunting house and a summer retreat for the Romanian royal family. The castle was designed by the German architect Johannes Schultz in a Neorenaissance style that combined numerous features of classic European styles. Construction saw a slight slowdown during the Romanian War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1877–78, but soon afterwards the plans grew in size and construction was quite rapid. Completed in 1883, the castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947.
After King Michael I's forced abdication in 1947, the Communist regime seized all royal property, including the Peleș Estate. The castle was opened as a tourist attraction for a short time. It also served as a recreation and resting place for Romanian cultural personalities. The castle was declared a museum in 1953. Nicolae Ceaușescu closed the entire estate between 1975 and 1990, during the last years of the Communist regime.
After the December 1989 Revolution, Peleş and Pelişor Castle were re-established as heritage sites and opened to the public.
By form and function, Peleş is a palace, but it is consistently called a castle. Its architectural style is a romantically inspired blend Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival similar to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. A Saxon influence can be observed in the interior courtyard facades, which have allegorical hand-painted murals and ornate fachwerk similar to that seen in northern European alpine architecture.
Peleş Castle has a 3,200-square-metre floor plan with over 170 rooms, many with dedicated themes from world cultures. The furniture in the Music Room is carved of teak, a gift to King Carol I from the Maharajah of Kapurtala in India, while handmade silk embroideries adorn the ceiling and walls of the Turkish Salon. The ceiling paintings and decorative frescoes in the Theater Hall were designed by the renowned Austrian artists Gustav Klimt and Frantz Matsch.Over 4,000 European and Oriental pieces dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries are on display in the armories. Peleș Castle shelters a painting collection of almost 2,000 pieces.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.