Modern Comfort and Traditional Opulence, The Perfect Combination in Peleș Castle
Peleș Castle is a castle located near the town of Sinaia, in the Prahova County of Romania. This castle was built during the 19th century, and was the beautiful summer residence of the royal family of the former Kingdom of Romania. When the kingdom was dissolved following the abdication of its last king, Peleș Castle was confiscated by the state. It was later returned to the former king, though the state negotiated with the former monarch for the title of the property. The castle became the property of the state again, and is today a popular tourist attraction.
Building a Beautiful Castle
The story of Peleș Castle began in 1866. According to some sources, it was in August of that year that Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (who would later become Carol I, the first ruler of the Kingdom of Romania) visited the area, and spent a night at the Sinaia Monastery. The prince fell in love with the beautiful landscape of the surrounding Carpathian Mountains, and decided to build a castle there.
In 1872/3, the future king bought a large piece of land in the area, and the construction of the castle soon began. The initial design of Peleș Castle was made by the German architect Johannes Schultz, who worked on the castle from 1873 to 1883. Additional works were made on the castle later on, and other architects were also employed for this purpose.
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Peleș Castle and the surrounding area circa 1890 -1900. ( Public Domain )
The design of Peleș Castle was inspired by the Neo-Renaissance architecture of Germany, though elements from various architectural styles, including the Italian Renaissance, Gothic, and French Rococo can be found in it. Peleș Castle was completed and officially opened in 1883. Nevertheless, additional improvements were made in the following decades, hence the hiring of different teams of architects and designers.
Peleș Castle circa 1890 -1900. ( Public Domain )
The First Electrified European Castle
Whilst the word ‘castle’ often conjures the image of a medieval stronghold, Peleș Castle has been considered to be one of the most modern in Europe when it was built. This is evident in the fact that it was the first electrified castle in Europe. In other words, Peleș Castle was the first castle in Europe to have been powered by electricity, which was supplied by its own power plant. The Entrance Hall of the castle, for example, has a glass ceiling that is mobile thanks to an electric motor. Other modern amenities, such as a central heating system and an elevator, made Peleș Castle a pleasant place for the Romanian royal family to reside in.
An ornate glass ceiling in Peleș Castle. ( CC BY SA 3.0 ro )
The famous spiral staircase of Peles castle ( Dennis Jarvis / flickr )
Modern comfort was matched by traditional opulence. Carrara marble, for instance, was used to produce various ornaments that embellish the castle. These include decorative pots on the castle’s seven terraces, and an indoor fountain (which is a copy of one found in Cairo) in the Maura Salon (known also as the Moor Hall).
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Ottoman room in Peleș castle, Romania. (Antoine FLEURY-GOBERT/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
The castle’s armories / weapon rooms are also worth a mention. Set up between 1903 and 1906, these rooms boast a collection of over 4000 objects from Europe and the East. The pieces date to between the 14th and 17th centuries, the most valuable being the German armors from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Weapon collection in Peleș castle, Romania. (Antoine FLEURY-GOBERT/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
When the last Romanian king, Michael I, was forced to abdicate in 1947, Peleș Castle was confiscated by the state. Following the Romanian Revolution of 1989, however, the castle was returned to the former king. Nevertheless, the government negotiated with Michael, and was able to obtain the property title.
The castle was reopened as a museum in the following year. It may be pointed out that the castle was already functioning as a museum in 1953, though it was closed to the public between 1975 and 1990, as ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu. Today, Peleș Castle is a popular tourist attraction and some claim it is the most visited museum in Romania after the nearby Bran Castle.
Peleș Castle. ( Public Domain )
Featured image: A photo of Peleș Castle in autumn. Source: CC BY SA 3.0 ro
By: Wu Mingren
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Available at: http://romaniatourism.com/castles-fortresses-romania-peles-castle-sinaia.html
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Available at: http://www.romanianmonasteries.org/romania/peles-castle