Peleș Castle (pronounced Pelish Castle) is located in Sinaia (pronounced Sin-eye-a) Romania – a mountain town/resort in the Carpathians – which is the first city I visited outside of Bucharest. I’d have to say the drive to Sinaia and the other cities I visited (stay tuned for upcoming posts) was a touristic adventure in itself.
Seeing the fruit stands along the side of the road, piles of watermelons with someone sitting in a lawn chair waiting for someone to stop, seeing horse drawn trailers overflowing with hay really gives you a picture of how Romanians in other parts of the country live. It looks like a more peaceful life and one that has a better quality of air to breathe and food that really is natural and bio (not the food that technically passes some requirements to meet the grade to get the sticker that says natural/bio/organic).
Sinaia is a smaller mountain town/resort, a popular spot for skiing in winter. Walking along the main street and some adjacent streets, you will find some great bakeries (patiserie) with a multitude of things to choose from either sour of sweet. Romanians love sour sheep’s cheese, which is similar to feta cheese. If you want to try a pastry with this cheese look for one’s that have “brinza” (pronounced brun-za) which is the name of this cheese. If you’re not into sour cheese, then you could try something with “cascaval” (pronounced cash-caval) cheese which is on the sweeter side or something sugary sweet like the traditional apple pie. Its not like American/English apple pie. The apples are often shredded and mixed with honey and nuts and this sits between a lovely baked crust. The “pies” are pastry-size or made for one person so you can eat one to yourself and not feel so guilty.
I can also say that any drink you order in Romania at a patio will not disappoint. I had one too many frappes (iced coffees with a mountain of whip cream) and limonadas (fancy fresh made lemonades often times with fresh mint – can anyone say refreshing?).
After enjoying the delights of Romanian treats you can stop at the Sinaia Monastery on the way up the mountain. The monastery was founded by Prince Mihail Cantacuzino in 1695 and is home to a number of monks and a small art/history museum.
Peleș Castle is a real treat for your eyes to one of the most beautiful castles in Europe (and that’s not just my opinion, its well-known). Romania has a number of castles throughout the country, but I remember before the trip I wanted to see Peleș Castle with its pearly white walls and cherry-coloured wooden accents.
Peleș Castle, unlike Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle), is secluded in the mountains. There are some smaller places of residence nearby that follow the same eye-pleasing design. These include the Guard’s Chambers, the Economat Building, the Foisor Hunting House, Royal Stables and more. The castle started to be built in 1873 and later Architect Karel Liman supervised the building of Pelisor (from 1889-1903), the future residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary of Romania.
The view from the castle gardens really gives you the feeling of privacy and the air is fresh and woody. There is a natural stream and small waterfalls running nearby, which adds extra sounds of relaxation and exclusivity to the castle.
An important traveler’s tip: visit Peleș Castle (an other tourist attractions in Romania) Tuesday-Sunday because it is closed for tours on Mondays (which happens to be the day I visited it).
On the road leading up to the castle there is a small street with stands full of souvenirs. Now some of these streets, which are common in many parts of Romania, can have lots of tacky and overpriced souvenirs. But the one by Peleș Castle was one of the most elegant one’s I saw on my whole trip. It had higher quality gifts and I wouldn’t say it was overpriced. It wasn’t cheap though because most things were hand painted and hand carved, like pieces of art and household items.
Romanians are one of the most artistic cultures I’ve seen so far during my European travels. I will have to visit more museums on my next trip to Romania because just seeing the street vendors with hand made traditional shirts, table runners (or doilies), pots and hand painted plates and bowls was exceptional. If I could have fit one of everything in my suitcase, I would have snapped up everything in sight.
So if you want to see something that still feels like it (probably) did when it was in its prime, then I would definately recommend visiting Sinaia and Peleș Castle. You will find homemade food, traditional art and a rich well-preserved history.
Have you visited Romania? Did you visit any of its wonderful castles? What’s the most beautiful castle you’ve seen in Europe?
Until next time,