I have repeatedly stated that the right information is very difficult to come by and if there is any, the question is whether it’s correct…
No one answers the questions, no one picks up the phone, so when I started it was like… When you go down a slide, close your eyes and let go…
It wouldn’t be the first or the last time …
The highlight of my visit to Romania is Peles Castle.
Why? Because it’s is the most beautiful.
It is also the first modern castle in Europe because it had its own power plant. But being modern did not ease the difficulty of organizing my visit.
Where is Peles and when is the best time to visit?
As for the first piece of advice I can give regarding visiting Peles, and it goes like this: start early, at dawn.
Peleš is located on a very busy and only road that connects Bucharest with Brasov, with countless small turns for ski centers, so the road is VERY crowded.
Peles is some 30 km away from Brasov, which took us about 3 hours and maybe more. We left at 9am, arriving after noon. This is too late to visit the whole Peles.
Peles for wheelers
When we finally made the turn, the real adventure begins. There was a storm, uphill then downhill, without a map this wasn’t very advisable, especially, at that moment when I was uncertain if all this was worth the effort. But after waiting for more than 4 hours I am ready for anything. All the buses are parked in a special spot and after that the castle is approached on foot along a steep and quite paved road. We understand that we need to get closer, but how to explain it to the Romanian porter? He understands English as much as I do Chinese. Fortunately, there is one word that is the same in all languages and is clear to all: The disabled. We were allowed to get the van all the way to the castle. And then a MIRACLE happened. We are immediately picked up by the guide and escorted to the side door. He puts the mobile ramp on and so, here I am inside the castle.
The interior of Peles
The air is festive here too. The wheels of my wheelchair are sinking into the thick carpet. I was VERY sorry that I had to tread on it.
Everyone else who comes in regularly gets shoe covers. They had nothing for me and my wheels were wet with rain. What can you do…
One of the cleaners looked at me grimly, but I didn’t let it spoil my mood. The castle is visited in groups, which at some time form outside. I had to explore by myself.
This has its advantages and disadvantages. I was given one wing and the only one available for wheelchairs.
I was able to enjoy as much as I wanted, they did not charge me for the ticket, because it is still a small part of the setting available.
Taking pictures is also charged separately immediately before entering the castle. I recommend it, really, the pictures are well worth the price.
There is no way to stay indefinitely. The visit lasts 45 mins or 1h 15 mins, depending on whether you have selected only one or both floors to see.
The castle consists of 160 rooms spread over 6 floors. Tourists have access to the lower and upper floors, of course without a lift.
Below is a plan for the castle ground floor with a side entrance through which you will be escorted if you are in a wheelchair and manage to reach an agreement.
Who and when started to build Peles
Carol I Hohenzollern did his best when he began to build Peles in 1873. Delighted about the Carpathian Mountains, he made a castle with 160 rooms, 2000 paintings, 5000 pieces of ceramics, a collection of 50 watches.
There’s a library,
music room etc.
It’s cost, translated into today’s currency, was about $120 million. It had its own mini power plant. It was built by 300 people for almost three years. It was the summer residence of the royal couple from May to November. The Austrian Emperor Franz Josef was often a guest here. There are 30 bathrooms and I doubt even one of them is for the disabled. They say that the top floor should be seen as well, I didn’t check. I was overjoyed to be inside after all the hardships.
When you go out into the garden, only then will you understand why the king fell in love with this place.
What happened to the Romanian royal family?
In order to strengthen international status, Romanians “adopted” an aristocratic couple from Germany, Carol I and Elizabeth Hohenzollern. Carol I became the first king of Romania.
Although they were completely different, Carol I, as a highly pragmatic man and Elizabeth who was more of a dreamer and lover of books, had no disagreements about Peles. The couple brought with them French and German influences that are clearly visible on the castle.
Carol I had no son. They had one daughter, who died at age 9, so the throne was accepted by Ferdinand, the younger son of Carol’s brother Leopold. Philip was proclaimed prince and future heir to the throne in 1886.
He married Princess Mary of Edinburgh. You can read more about this event here.
Another building was erected on the property in 1903. Pelishoar Castle. Together they form the royal complex, which housed the royal family during the months of May to October.
Ferdinand was a successful ruler and managed to increase the borders of Romania by adding three more areas to it. His successor Carol II was not much interested in royal affairs. He married the Princess of Greece and Denmark, Helen, and they got a son, Michael.
In 1925 the king resigns to the crown council and is succeeded by his five-year-old son, Michael. His uncle Nikolai ruled on his behalf. Over the next five years, Romania pays tribute to inefficient governance and therefore the Crown Council again calls on King Carol II to return to the throne. He did in 1930.
The king did many useful things: he modernized the army, agriculture, started the industry. The people loved him but the party champions did not, so in 1930 the king abolished all Romanian parties. In the meantime, he has lost some of the area. The people never forgave him. For the second time, he was asked to leave the throne, which he did in 1940. For the benefit of his son Michael.
At the height of World War II, Mihail became king of Romania for the second time. Against his desire, he fights on the side of Germany. In 1944 the king makes a bold turn and Romania changes sides and becomes an ally. After the war, Romania, abandoned by all, could not resist communist influence. The king abdicates and leaves the country.
Peles in the age of communism
The Communists were keen to occupy the castle, but Peles remained preserved. How? Legend has it that the leader was told at the time that the castle was full of mold, that the trees were infected and that it was fatal for health. The leader gave up on the castle to be his residence and so Peles was preserved. It was a museum for some time and was later partially renovated. It has now been returned to its rightful owners.
What I recommend
I returned home delighted to see at least a fraction of royal life. I highly recommend a visit to all travelers before tourists overwhelm this landmark. If you only have one day in Romania, spend it on Peles and Sinai.
What do you think about Peles?
Did I miss anything?
Traveled and enjoyed,