If I asked you what the most visited attraction is in Romania, what would you say? For me, I would have guessed Bran Castle (Dracula’s castle). But nope! It’s actually Peles Castle.
Peles Castle was built in the 19th century and was a vacation home for the royal family of Romania. So it’s really more like a palace than a castle.
Do you know the difference? (Something else I learned in Romania!) A castle is a defensive fortification, whereas a palace is simply a very nice place for royalty to live. Royalty frequently lived in castles, but to be a castle, it has to be a defensive structure.
But it’s still called Peles Castle, and it’s about an hour train ride away from Brasov. I took the early train over (thank goodness), mainly because I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was there right around opening time.
I’m so glad I was there early! I was shocked by the crowds, even first thing in the morning, and by the time I left, I was happy to have missed the worst of it. I learned after that Peles Castle is actually the number 1 most visited tourist attraction in Romania (I would have thought it was Bran!).
I walked up to the castle from the train station, which is about 2 kilometers. The thing I missed was that it’s basically 2km of going up stairs! However, it’s an incredibly gorgeous walk. The forest is beautiful, and it was so peaceful first thing in the morning. There’s a stream running through it, so there’s the constant sound of water as you’re walking through it. It really is something out of a Disney storybook.
The castle itself also looks like it provided a lot of inspiration for Disney. The architecture is intricate and gorgeous, and it’s really unique. It seems to be a bit of a mix of gothic architecture with Bavarian, and it’s so pretty.
Peles Castle offers tours inside, but charges money for pictures. So you’re only getting outside pictures. 🙂 I was happy I didn’t pay to take my camera in – it was so incredibly crowded inside I can’t imagine how anyone gets anything close to decent pictures.
Getting into the castle is basically on the threshold of chaos all day long. It’s clear the castle was built for royal families and not to be a tourist attraction! You have to go in with a tour, and they offer tours in all different languages (and it’s included with your ticket price!). However, for the English tour, they were only offering it if I waited another hour. I wasn’t willing to, and they said I could go in with a Hebrew tour if I wanted.
So I spent the whole time just reading the signs and looking around, which was good because there’s so much to see! The main halls have incredible mirrors with Murano glass flowers on the outside – it made me excited to go see Murano later in my trip!
They also had all kinds of different rooms for different occasions. They had one that was in the Middle Eastern tradition, and it was so cool! There were many bone-inlaid pieces, and the architecture was really spectacular.
The gardens are pretty, though not as perfectly kept as I would have hoped. I can only imagine the castle with the gardens in impeccable condition! It would be just breathtaking.
Along the road from Peles Castle is Pelisor Castle – it’s just uphill a bit and apparently it was something of the “guest house” for the main castle. It’s more of a mansion than a castle, but it’s still incredible to see. It’s set back in the forest where Peles is on the side of a meadow, so Pelisor feels more hidden.
Overall, Peles Castle was a surprise to me. For someplace that I’d never heard of before, it was so pretty and I’m so glad I went!