A pearl of Romanian architecture - Peleș Castle 

Peleș National Museum

Discover the story of one of the most beautiful castles in Romania

A King's ambition 
Of all the royal palaces and castles, Peleş, while without doubt the most beautiful, was also the first royal residence built by Carol I - the first King of Romania, who, together with his wife, Queen Elizabeth, left his mark on this sumptuous residence in Sinaia. The King decided to build a residence worthy of his status as a German prince of the House of Hohenzollern. 

Situated at the foot of the Bucegi mountains, alongside the Peleş river and up from Sinaia Monastery in a wild but picturesque place known as the Piatra Arsă massif, this castle would become the favourite residence of King Carol I, who closely oversaw all of the building works until its completion in 1914.

The foundation stone of Peleş Castle was officially laid on 22nd August 1875.

"I, Carol of Hohenzollern, Ruler of the Romanians, and my consort, Elizabeth of Wied, have decreed the building of Peleş Castle to serve as our healthy and blessed summer residence. For this purpose I have appointed the architect Wilhelm Doderer, Professor of Architecture at the Polytechnic Institute in Vienna, to draw up the plans for the castle and its outbuildings and also to oversee the works."

Splendid architecture 
To ensure the full success of his plans, King Carol I drew craftsmen from all over Europe. There were Italian masons, Romanians doing the earthworks, unskilled gypsy laborers, Albanians and Greeks working in the quarry, Germans and Hungarians working as carpenters, and Turks firing bricks. Then there were the Polish craftsmen and Czech stone masons. This while the French did the drawings and the English the measurements.

The first three design plans submitted for Peleș were copies of other palaces in Western Europe, and King Carol I rejected them all as lacking originality and being too costly.

Eventually German architect Johannes Schultz won the project by presenting a more original plan, something that appealed to the King's taste:

- a grand palatial alpine castle combining different features of classic European styles, mostly following Italian elegance and German aesthetics along Renaissance lines.

Four years later, on 7th October, 1883, at Sinaia Monastery and in the presence of the King and Queen and various high-ranking dignitaries, Peleş Castle was finally inaugurated.

As part of his toast, the King said: “We built this castle as a lasting symbol that the dynasty freely chosen by the nation might become deeply rooted in this beautiful country and that we might repay the love shown for us by our people through the unlimited faith we hold in the
future of our beloved homeland.”

The building works carried out between 1893 and 1914 were entrusted to the Czech architect Karel Liman.

Liman left his mark on the style of the castle by designing the towers, including the main central tower, which is 66 metres (217 ft) in height.

By form and function, Peleş is a palace, but it is consistently called a castle. Its architectural style is a romantically inspired blend of Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival similar to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.

Beautiful surroundings
The castle is surrounded by splendid parklands - the work of several landscape architects, each of whom left his mark on the park and gardens of Peleş.

“All around the castle, at the request of the King (...) roads, paths and lanes were built that passed through the forest in the most beautiful spots, beneath centuries-old fir trees and ancient beech trees covered in moss..."

In the centre of the cour d'honneur is a fountain made by Pietro Axerio in 1894 using Florentine marble. Next to the fountain are two bronze dogs, made in Stuttgart by the sculptor Paul Stotz.

When it came to the actual landscaping of the park and gardens, which covered an area of 8 ha, the King called on the services of the landscape architect Fritz Rebhun, who began work in 1881.

Seven rows of splendid terracing in the Italian neo-Renaissance style, richly decorated with statues, columns and fountains, were created around the castle.

The majority of the marble works were made by the sculptor Raffaello Romanelli from Florence.

The park and gardens were open to the public during the time of Carol I: “The splendid terraces with statues and rich flowers, were the preferred walking grounds of the people of Sinaia and seasonal visitors."

Credits: All media
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