Peles Castle and The Romanian Royal Family

Peles Castle is a great Romanian destination not just for the incredible architecture but the beautiful area that inspired building it. For Romania’s monarchy era this is the most important monument. It is a memory of an important period in the country’s history. 

To learn more about the Romanian Royal Family and enjoy the landscape book our tour. You’ll get to see the two most famous castles in the region in just one day. The drive from and to Bucharest is included.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know before you even get there.

Peles Castle History

Like most things, it all started with a vision. Carol I, the first prince of Romania, visited the area in August 1866. The view of the region, with the first touches of autumn, inspired him and made him fall in love with its beauty. 

He was brought from the south of Germany to become the ruler of Romania and help it become an independent nation. It was in his power to decide that the summer residence of his future family would be here. That’s how he decided on building the Peles Castle.

As he decided on this particular area, just outside of the Poiana Neagului commune, infrastructure had to be created to aid in building the monument.

There are a few facts that are important to mention:

  • In 1871, Carol I bought the land of Mosia Sinaia from the Hospital effusion
  • In 1873 and 1875 the foundation of the building was edified
  • In 1876 the train rail tracks from Ploiesti to Predeal that passed through Sinaia started being built.

Architect Wilhelm von Doderer from the Technische Hochschule of Vienna was initially given the task of coming up with the project and building it. He presented three proposals to the Romanian prince. They were inspired by the Renaissance french castles found in the Loire Valley and the style of the Vienna structures found on the Ringstrasse. 

Unfortunately, Prince Carol I, did not like any of the proposals and wanted something different for Peles Castle. He refused all of them and then turned to the help of a German architect, Johannes Schultz.

The Swiss chalet look of the building with a german style exterior decoration was his vision. The Prince also agreed on it. Between 1879 and 1883, Schultz supervised the first part of building it.

In this time in 1877, Romania has been proclaimed an independent and sovereign nation with the help of Carol I. After that in 1881, Carol I has been proclaimed the first King of Romania.

Further on the architects involved in finishing the castles changed several times:

  • French Architect Émile André Lecomte du Noüy built the Maura Hall in 1890
  • Czech Architect Karel Liman designed and coordinated Queen Elizabeth Chapel, the apartments of the Wied and Hohenzollern princesses, and the mezzanine
  • Between 1903-1906 Liman designs the Concert Hall, The Marble Gallery, and the Queen’s Bathroom. 
  • From 1908 to 1911 the new architect in charge of the project was Ferdinand de Tiersch.

After all of this work, the focus was on the outside of the Peles Castle. The architects started creating the terraces and the central tower.

The amazing alley that takes you to the landmark, the statues, and the fountains are also an incredible reason to come and visit. You don’t need to worry about anything if you book our tour. Get to enjoy a big part of Transylvania with us. 

A few other aspects in the erection of the structure that should be mentioned are:

  • An entire electrical system was introduced in the building in 1884. The castle needed its own electric generating unit.
  • The real power plant for sustaining the whole building was only added in 1897.
  • The theater Hall was converted into a cinema in 1906. The whole cinematic apparatus was modernized in 1939 by the Concordia Society from Bucharest.

The construction of this Transylvanian destination was finished in 1914. Carol I, the person that pushed for the specific aesthetic and for building it, also died that same year.

What Happened to the Romanian Royal Family

Before Carol I became the first King of Romania, he took a trip around Europe mainly for finding a bride. On this trip, he met and married Princess Elizabeth of Wied. For her, he created a special apartment in Peles Castle.

Many considered it a weird marriage. Carol was known as calculated and Elizabeth was more of a dreamer and passionate about literature. In 1870, Princess Maria, their only child was born. Unfortunately, at the age of 9 she died leaving Queen Elizabeth with a trauma she would never recover from.

As Carol I never had a son, he found himself searching for an heir to his throne. His brother Leopold and his first son William both refused, leaving only his second son, Ferdinand.

In 1886, Ferdinand has been proclaimed Prince and the future heir to the throne. He married Lutheran Princess Marie of Edinburgh. Here Marie gave birth to two children in the first two years of marriage. They were named after the original Romanian Royal family:

  • Carol
  • And Elizabeta. 

Later on, she had their third child, Mărioara. She was nicknamed Mignon. In 1903 the Pelisor Castle was inaugurated. This would be the new royal family’s residence on the grounds of the Peles Castle. That same year the second son, prinț Nicolae is born.

Nowadays you can visit both manours found on the grounds. We recommend this one-day tour to enjoy the full experience.

Princess Marie gave birth to two more children:

  • Princess Ileana, that became Archdukes of Austria through marriage and was left the Bran Castle as a heritage
  • Prince Mircea in 1913, died at only 3 years of age of typhoid fever. 

After Carol I’s death, in 1914 and until 1927, Ferdinand was the King of Romania. He ruled during the first World War. In his efforts, he managed to grow the border of Romania to now include the regions of:

  • Transylvania
  • Basarabia
  • And Bukovina.

As the new Royal family had many children the next ruler in line, the new Romanian Prince heir to the throne should have been Ferdinand’s firstborn son, Carol II. Unfortunately in his youth he was interested in politics and ruling a country.

Carol II married Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark and had a son, Mihai. In 1925, Carol II sends an official decision of the Crown Council from Peles Castle giving up his position as heir to the throne. The parliament at the time decided to make Prince Mihai, of only 5 years, heir, and appoint a regency council made out of 3 members including Prince Nicolae, Carol II brother.

After Ferdinand’s death, Romania faced numerous economic and political problems. They were caused by the inefficient style of ruling the country of the Regency council which determined Carol II to ask Romania to take him back as their King. On 8 June 1930, he retakes his position as ruler of the country.

This decision helped the Romanian economy and diplomatic relationships. He was beloved by the people for his interest in:

  • Developing the industry
  • Modernizing agriculture
  • Promoting commerce
  • Equipping the army
  • Investing in culture and arts.

But the problems he sees in the political environment of Romania make him take a drastic decision. 1938 he closes all political parties having only one name “Frontul Renaşterii Naţionale”.

This vision, as well as being surrounded by businessmen, made the King become unpopular. But what made the people angry was losing the Basarabia region, the southern part of Bukovina, and part of Transylvania in 1939 without ever defending them. 

Because of the pressures surrounding him, Carol II gives up the throne a second time in 1940, in favor of his son Mihai, and flees the country.

Mihai, king of Romania

At only 19 years old, Mihai takes the position of King of Romania once again. With the Second World War in full effect, the Romanian army enters the fight on the side of the Axis Powers against the young king’s wishes. 

In 1944, Mihai takes the brave decision to change sides and Romania continues fighting for the Allies from this point on. After the war, he tried keeping the country out of the communist reign but with no external support, he was obliged to sign the abdication certificate and flee the country. 

He would not see the Romanian Royal Family’s residence, for several years. In the early 2000s, he regained ownership of the building. Only a few years later, in 2017 he died.

Still, Mihai wished that the current museum be kept in the building and be open for visitors. He left it in the management of Romanian’s Ministry of Culture and National Identity.

The Communist Era, Peles Castle

Under the Communist Party of Romania, the building became national property. In 1948 they inventoried all the objects found within the building. Most of the valuable pieces were then transferred to Bucharest to the National Arts Museum, including:

  • Paintings
  • Books
  • Furniture
  • Decorative Art
  • China
  • Textiles
  • Musical instruments.

Only in 1953 does the main building of the Peles Residence become a National Museum. You can also visit this incredible landmark, one of the most modern castles in Europe.

The castle was open to visitors while the other buildings on the lands became the residence of plastic artists, writers, and composers that the communist party approved of. 

The buildings used for this purpose were:

  • Pelisor Castle
  • The Hunting House of Carol I
  • Foisor
  • The residence house of Carol II and Mihai

Even if until the 1970s, the buildings were still open for visitation very little to no money was invested in restoring and maintaining the structures. For this reason, in 1975 the museum was closed. The pieces of art still found in the building were taken into a deposit 20 km away. 

It is also believed that Peles Castle was closed to the public between 1975 and 1990, from Nicolae Ceausescu’s personal wish. He was the Romanian dictator that had a growing cult of personality. It is said he believed that this memory of the monarchy period would make people lose trust in him.

But the building was still used for heads of state meetings until the revolution in 1989. After that rehabilitation projects were implemented. In 1990 the museum was reopened for visitation, followed by Pelisor in 1993.

The Tour of Peles Castle

The best option for visiting this destination is to book a tour in advance. We have several tours that include them in their itinerary. You can decide on one, based on the details of your trip to Romania. 

Your options include:

Our shared tours are for groups of 16 persons. Depending on the destinations, we meet at a pre-established location in Bucharest.

While visiting you’ll have a knowledgeable charismatic guide that will present you with the landmarks, their history and answer your questions. They are fluent in English but you can also choose an audio guide in Spanish, Italian, or French that will run from your mobile phone. 

Please let us know beforehand if you will need the audio guides so we can send you the installation details ahead of time. 

Visiting Peles will be an incredible experience. Even coming up the road, the emerging building out of the garden is an amazing image. Visiting the floors that are open to the public will take somewhere around an hour.

Best Time to Visit

The Romanian royal family’s former residence is open almost all year long. It is always closed on Mondays and national holidays and on Tuesday only the first floor is available for visitation.

The visiting schedule is:

  • Tuesday: 09:00 – 16:15
  • Wednesday: 11:00 – 16:15
  • Thursday to Sunday: 09:00 – 16:15

Pelisor Castle, the former residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, is on the same grounds, you should be aware that it has a slightly different schedule:

  • Monday and Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 11:00 – 16:15
  • Thursday to Sunday: 09:00 – 16:15

To visit both floors the last entry is at 15:30. The ticket booth closes at 16:10 and you can keep on visiting the grounds outside of the mansions until 17:00. 

Ticket Prices at Peles Castle

Booking one of the TravelMaker Tours then the price of the ticket is something that you don’t have to think about. The tour’s price includes the entry fees to all the stops on the itinerary.

If you plan your own trip, then you should know the cost of the tickets. If you plan on visiting both floors the tickets are.

  • Adults: 80 lei
  • Seniors: 30 lei
  • Students: 15 lei

The main visit includes only the first floor, the prices are half for each category.

Official website: https://en.peles.ro/

For visiting the Pelisor, which is just a few hundred meters down the road you’ll have to purchase a different ticket. The prices are:

  • Adults: 20 lei(4 €)
  • Seniors: 10 lei(2 €)
  • Students: 5 lei(1€)

These prices do not include taking photos or filming inside the buildings. There are additional costs for that:

  • 35 lei per device for personal use photography 
  • 60 lei per device for personal use filming 

Professional photography and filming are taxed by the hour at different rates both for the interior and exterior of the buildings.

Peles Castle Romania Images

Here is a short gallery of incredible pictures taken to help you decide on booking the tour. 

This Romanian destination will surprised with detailed architecture in a more modern take than the traditional European castles. Its collections of furniture are exquisite and the views are breathtaking.

There is a reason why Carol I fell in love with the area and invested approximately 120 million US dollars (today’s value) in building this monument.

How to get to Peles Castle

The easiest way to get there from Bucharest is by booking a TravelMaker tour. We’ll pick you up and drive you there with the whole group of tourists in a minivan.

For your own personal adventure, you can also drive on your own from Bucharest. Keep in mind that the area is a tourist attraction, especially in the cold season. That means that the estimated 2 and a half hours, might take longer. 

Another option is the train. You can take a direct route from Bucharest to Sinaia. It can take from one and a half hours to 3 hours depending on the train. The prices for a one-way ticket for one adult start at 39.5 lei. 

After that, you should take a cab from the train station to the attraction. It should be a short 9-minute drive. You can also take the T2 bus for 4 stops, which leaves near the train station.

Visit Peles Castle

An impressive history and great locations are the first things that make the Castle a memorable destination. For any journey into Romanian culture, you need to visit this iconic landmark. 

We’d love to show you its incredible rooms and answer all your questions. All you have to do is book a tour today.


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