Jul 14

THE UNDISCOVERED CASTLES OF ROMANIA (V)

Our trip across the castles of Romania has reached its end. But we still have two wonderful castles to see.

Cantacuzino Castle, Busteni

This beautiful castle in the town of Busteni was designed and built by architect Gregory Cerchez in the year 1911, on the orders of Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, former Minister of Romania, between the late 19th and early 20th century. The architectular style is Neo-Romanian and it preserves elements of Medieval inspiration. Until the nationalization in 1948, the castle belonged to the Cantacuzino family, and afterwards it became a sanatorium. Since 2010 it re-entered the tourist circuit.

Spread over an area of 3148 meters and built of stone and brick, Cantacuzino Castle consists of four buildings and is surrounded by a park where there used to be a cave, several waterfalls and fountains. In the reception hall there is a collection of heraldry, unique in Romania, escutcheons representing families of landowners and their affinity with the Cantacuzino family.

One of the modern attractions nowadays is represented by the Canta Cuisine restaurant, with a capacity of 110 seats. Here you can organize dinners and from the terrace you can admire the staggering panorama of Bucegi Mountains. Preparations are made by the restaurant’s chef, Mrs. Romica Harabagiu, who completed her gastronomic experience in countries like Japan, China and more than 7 years in Marseille. In the restaurant there operates a bar and a cigar lounge.

Schedule and rates:
Cantacuzino Castle is located on the Zamora Street in the neighborhood that goes by the same name. Many events, such as conferences, concerts, product launches, fashion shows, photo shoots, etc. are often organized here.
The castle is open for visit Monday to Thursday between 10 and 18 o’clock and Friday to Sunday between 10 and 19.

Peles Castle, Sinaia

Next to Bran and Corvin Castles, Peles is probably the most famous and most visited in Romania. In 1874, the village Podul Neagului, a town with an area of 24 kilometers, was renamed Sinaia, at the initiative of King Carol I, the first king of Romania. Between 1873 and 1875, again at the same initiative of King Carol, the foundation of Peles Castle is being settled; the King wanted it as a summer residence, vested with political, cultural and symbolic value. The works were conducted under the direction of three architects Johannes Schultz, Carol Benesch and Karel Liman, and they ended in 1883, being completed but, over the years, until 1914 – the year when King Charles I had died – it has been completed step by step. Also, between 1889 and 1903 nearby was built a smaller castle named Pelisor, small-scale replica of the castle, and it was the birthplace of King Michael of Romania.

Between 1914 in 1947, the castle served as a space for official visits, hosting military ceremonies as well. In 1948, Peles has been closed down by the Communist authorities and all heritage assets have been inventoried, some of them being transferred to the Art Museum in Bucharest. In 1953 it became a museum and now it still is open as a part of the tourist circuit. On the day of February 20th, 2007, it was returned to the former King Michael I, still remaining open to the public.

From the architectural point of view, Peles Castle is built in Neo-Renaissance German style. It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, is equipped from the start with some modern elements: interior elevator, central heating and, in particular, its own power plant, located on the river bank nearby. Peles has 170 rooms, but only 10 of these are accessible to tourists (among them, Maura Hall, the Florentin Salon, Columns Hall, Armory). In the castle there are also several valuable collections of sculptures, armor, paintings, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, silver and porcelain.

Schedule and rates:
During summer it can be visited between May 15 and September 15: Tuesday 11 – 16.15 Wednesday to Sunday between 9.15 and 16.15, Monday is closed.

Remember, these are the 10 best-known castles, but there are many others as well, that will make the subject of other posts.

Photo source:

Picture 1: romanianturism.com; Picture 2: project-romania.com; Picture 3: blogdecalatorii.ro; Picture 4: en.wikipedia.org; Picture 5: en.wikipedia.org; Picture 6: crazysexyfuntraveler.com; Picture 7: deviantart.com
Apr 24

Peles Castle (Castelul Peles)

Peles Castle is situated in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains, at a 44 km distance from Brasov, in Sinaia locality. This is one of the most well renowned castles in all of Europe, and one of the most beautiful ones as well.

Construction

Carol I of Hohenzollern chose the site for the castle and the architect appointed to design it  was Wilhem Doderer, of Viennese origin. But from 1876, the project was supervised by Doderer’s assistant Johann Schultz of Lemberg. The construction work began in 1873 but reached a halt between 1877 and 1879 because of the Romanian Independence War. Peles was constructed in its entirety by 1883 and was inaugurated on the 7th of October.

http://www.castelul-peles.com

 

In the years that followed, other edifices were added to Peles Castle. These were the Economat (a building used for supplies), the Guard Headquarter, the Hunting House, the Stables, the Electric Power Plant, the Sipot Villa and Pelisor Castle. Pelisor was designed by the architect Karel Liman and was erected between 1889 and 1903. This castle would later on become the royal residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary of Romania.

Structure

The materials used in the construction of the Peles Castle were bricks, stones, marble and wood. The edifice was made out of 160 rooms. During the communist era, Peles, whose rooms were furnished so as to reflect the architectural design and decorations specific for particular European countries, was transformed into a retreat for leaders from all over the globe.

http://www.romanianmonasteries.org

 

The dominant architectural style encountered at Peles is specific for the German Renaissance, but there are also marks of the Gothic period, the German Baroque and French Rococo architectural designs and of the Italian Renaissance era.

The edifice is enclosed by 7 terraces decorated with pieces of art made by the sculptor Romanelli, of Italian descent. Other ornamental items encountered are the beautiful wells made out of stone and the decorative vases. Carrara marble and wood are the main materials used to decorate the castle, both inside and out, and the architects did a great job choosing them as they give a certain allure to the edifice.

http://www.castelul-peles.com

 

Peles is impressive in its entirety, but there are certain rooms which stand out more than the rest. These are the Grand Armor Room, the Small Armor Room, the Florentine Room, the Reception Room, The French Room, the Turkish Room and the Imperial Suit, just to name a few. Inside the Reception Room, tourists can admire paintings and sculptures made out of wood  – all representing the 16 castles owned by the Hohenzollern family.

The Grand Armor Room holds 1.600 weapons and armors. It is here that one of the most impressive collections of hunting equipment and weaponry in Europe is found – these date from the 14th up to the 19th century. The weapons on display are pistols, muskets, swords, sabers, hunting spears and many more.

http:// www.webshots.com

 

According to the general belief, the Imperial Suite has been built in honor of Franz Joseph I. The Austrian emperor has come to Peles on one of his visits to the Romanian royal family and because of this the person in charge of the decoration (Auguste Bembe) has decided to get inspiration from the Austrian Baroque style – so as to please the Austrian ruler. One wall of the room has been transformed into a “tool holder” made out of Cordoba leather and it has maintained itself in a perfect condition for five hundred years.

The Small Armor Room mainly features silver and gold Oriental weapons (Ottoman, Arab, Indo-Persian) which are adorned with precious stones. Tourists can gaze upon the armors and weapons used in the past, such as helmets, axes, spears, daggers or matchlocks.

http://www.draculasland.co.uk

 

Inside the walls of the Peles Castle, lays one of the most valuable collections of paintings in all of Europe. Almost 2.000 pieces of art make up this impressive collection. Other items which are highly appreciated are the ceramic objects of decoration, the plates made out of silver and gold, the Meissen and Sevres porcelains, the stained-glass windows (of German inspiration), the weapon collection, the exquisite sculptures made out of ivory and ebony and the artistically crafted Murano crystal chandeliers.

Pelisor (the “Little Peles”) was constructed by the order of King Ferdinand. It is said that the king did not feel comfortable in the Peles Castle due to the immenseness of the edifice. Thus Pelisor Castle came into being. This edifice has 70 rooms, follows the art-nouveau architecture, and it is furnished in the Viennese style (from the turn of the century). At Pelisor, tourists can also find one of the most exquisite collections of glassware: the artistically crafted glasses and vases bearing the names Lalique and Tiffany.

http://www.wonderfulromania.ro

 

Further information

Tourists should know that they cannot visit the entire castle. Only 35 rooms are opened for visitation – these include the basement and the chambers located at the 1st floor. There is an entrance fee that has to be covered, to which a photography fee is added (if this is the case).

Peles can be visited in the following interval:

Wednesday to Sunday: 9:00 – 17:00;

Tuesday: 11:00 – 17:00:

Monday – closed.

The castle can be visited throughout the year, except in November, when maintenance work is  scheduled.