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.

History

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.

Architecture

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.

Interior

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.

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Details

Founded: 1873
Category: Castles and fortifications in Romania

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Vladislav Busmachiu (3 months ago)
A definitely a place to visit when you are traveling to Romania. The beauty of the surroundings. Wonderful castle which were built constructed between 1873 (start of construction) and 1914 (completed).The alley to get to the palace with the river to the left, the beauty of the castle are things that will first enjoy your spirit. Then, once entered in the palace, all the manual work invested for all small things, all furniture and objects are things that cannot be expressed in simple words. There is a small access fee in to the castle, but it is totally worth it. You get a good tour through the whole castle. Parking available nearby the castle.
Alexandra Birtar (3 months ago)
Maybe the traffic will influence you, but I assure you that once getting here, you will not be disappointed. The beauty of the surroundings... The alley to get to the palace with the river to the left, the beauty of the castle are things that will first enjoy your spirit. Then, once entered in the palace, all the manual work invested for all small things, all furniture and objects are things that cannot be expressed in simple words. I encourage all to go there and take the history lesson! :)
Simona Arriens (4 months ago)
After watching Queen Marie of Romania, my polish partner and I wanted to visit this wonderful place.. for me it was the second time. The outside is fairytale like and the inside is charming! Worth seeing both floors if you want to imagine all the royalty roaming the stairs and the very modern for those time equipment.
Kevin Dean (5 months ago)
Every room had its own magic and the tour meant that you were never quite sure where you were going and so it became a series of glorious surprises. I liked the information offered on each room. Enough to point out key features but not too much that you spent ages reading.
Gabriel Marinac (10 months ago)
A beautiful castle, definitely worth the visit. Situated on the hill, so you need to climb a bit; for walking it's not a problem, but if you have a stroller with a baby or disabled person, it will be problematic to reach the top - the road needs some serious renovation on the last part; we almost lost the wheels from our baby's stroller. Besides that, it's really beautiful, the views from the castle's terraces are breathtaking, since it's situated in the mountains. There is lots of place for picnic as well, some bar and restaurant, and a smaller castle not far from the main one. Parking is for 20 RON (you can leave your car the whole day).
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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.