By form and function, Peles is a palace, but it is consistently called a castle. Its architectural style is a romantically inspired blend Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival similar to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. A Saxon influence can be observed in the interior courtyard facades, which have allegorical hand-painted murals and ornate fachwerk similar to that seen in northern European alpine architecture. Interior decoration is mostly Baroque influenced, with heavy carved woods and exquisite fabrics.
Peleş Castle has a 3,200-square-metre (34,000 sq ft) floor plan with over 170 rooms, many with dedicated themes from world cultures (in a similar fashion as other Romanian palaces, like Cotroceni Palace). Themes vary by function (offices, libraries, armories, art galleries) or by style (Florentine, Turkish, Moorish, French, Imperial); all the rooms are extremely lavishly furnished and decorated to the slightest detail. There are 30 bathrooms. The establishment hosts one of the finest collections of art in Eastern and
Central Europe, consisting of statues, paintings, furniture, arms and armor, gold, silver, stained glass, ivory, fine china, tapestries, and rugs. The collection of arms and armor has over 4,000 pieces, divided between Eastern and Western war pieces and ceremonial or hunting pieces, spreading over four centuries of history. Oriental rugs come from many sources: Bukhara,Mosul, Isparta, Saruk, and Smirna. The porcelain is from Sèvres and Meissen; the leather is from Córdoba. Perhaps the most acclaimed items are the hand-painted stained glass vitralios, which are mostly Swiss.
A towering statue of King Carol I by Raffaello Romanelli overlooks the main entrance. Many other statues are present on the seven Italian neo-Renaissance terrace gardens, mostly of Carrara marble executed by the Italian sculptor Romanelli. The gardens also host fountains, urns, stairways, guarding lions, marble paths, and other decorative pieces.
Peleş Castle shelters a painting collection of almost 2,000 pieces. Angelo de Gubernatis (1840–1913) was an Italian writer who arrived in 1898 in Sinaia as a guest of the Royal Family:
Inaugurated in 1883, Peleş Castle is not only a pleasant place during summer time; it has been conceived to be also a national monument, meant to keep the trophies of the Plevna victory, which explains the simple but majestic style. The castle’s courtyard – Bramantes type – with a fountain in the middle, in the most accurate Renaissance style, pleasantly surprises the visitor. The courtyard has a merry decoration, made out of plants and flowers; all round, the building’s facades are animated by elegant drawings. The interior of the castle is a true wonder, due to the beauty and richness of the sculpted wood and the stained glass windows. As you get in the vestibule, you are on the Honor Staircase, in front of the most important rulers of old Romania: Holy Stephen the Great, and Michael the
Brave. In a proud attitude, wearing whether a fur cap or with the gold crown on their heads, they impress through the brilliant dressing, in which the white of ermine blends with the emerald green or the red of the large mantle. On the right and on left side of the two rulers, as servant knights, four shield bearers carry the Romanian Provinces escutcheons. Inside the Queen’s library, over the groups of children symbolizing poetry and science, there is the image of Ulfilas (311–383 AD) a Goth religious ruler, from the northern side of Danube River, translating the Bible in their language and bringing his contribution in spreading Christianity, a Christian apostle of the Romans, and the image of Dante Alighieri, the creator of western poetry. Passing the library and getting into the dormitory, we will meet the image of Genies and Allegories of Painting and Music, as well as a series of legendary themes. Inside the apartments reserved for the honor guests, a
number of coat-of-arms were shining through their heraldic abundance, speaking about the ancestors of the Royal Family. But among all, the glass paintings from the Peleş Castle are, beyond any doubt, the most profound and shining. Here, the subjects are taken out of Alecsandri’s poetry.
Visits are done within guided tour. One of the tours is limited to the ground floor, another adds the first floor and the complete tour includes the second floor. Admission is charged, and there is an additional photography fee. The visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. On Tuesdays the hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The castle is closed on Mondays. These visiting hours are subject to change by the Romanian Culture Ministry. The castle is closed in November each year for maintenance and cleaning.
The most notable grand rooms are:
Holul de Onoare (The Honor Hall) was finished completely only in 1911, under the guidance of Karel Liman. It spreads over three floors. Walls are dressed in exquisitely carved woodwork, mostly European walnut and exotic timbers. Bas-reliefs, alabaster sculptures, and retractable stained glass panels complete the decor.
Apartamentul Imperial (The Imperial Suite) is believed to be a tribute to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, who visited the palace as a friend of the Romanian Royal Family. Hence, decorator Auguste Bembe preferred the sumptuous Austrian Baroque in style of Empress Maria Theresa. A perfectly-preserved five-hundred-year-old Cordoban tooled leather wall cover is the rarest of such quality.
Sala Mare De Arme (The Grand Armory or The Arsenal) is where 1,600 of the 4,000 pieces of weaponry and armor reside. One of Europe’s finest collection of hunting and war implements, timelined between 14th and 19th century, are on display. The king added pieces used in his victory against the Ottoman Turks during the War of Independence. Famous are the complete Maximilian armor for horse and rider and a 15th-century German “nobles only” decapitation broadsword. Also on display are a wide array of polearms (glaives, halberds, lances, hunting spears), firearms (muskets, blunderbusses, snaphaunces, flintlocks, pistols), axes, crossbows, and swords (rapiers, sabers, broadswords, and many others).
Sala Mica De Arme (The Small Armory) is where predominantly Oriental (mostly Indo-Persian, Ottoman and Arab) arms and armor pieces are on exhibit, many of them made of gold and silver, and inlaid with precious stones. Included are chainmail armor, helmets, scimitars, yataghans, daggers, matchlocks, lances, pistols, shields, axes, and spears.
Sala De Teatru (The Playhouse) is decorated in Louis XIV style, with sixty seats and a
Royal Box. Architectural decoration and mural paintings are signed by Gustav Klimt and Frantz Matsch.
Sala Florentina (The Florentine Room) combines revived elements of the Italian Renaissance, mostly from Florence. Most impressive are the solid bronze doors executed in Rome; ateliers of Luigi Magni; and the Grand Marble Fireplace executed by Paunazio with Michelangelo motifs.
Salonul Maur (The Moorish Salon) was executed under the guidance of Charles Lecompte de Nouy, and is meant to embody elements of North-African and Hispanic Moorish style. Mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, fine Persian Sarouk and Ottoman Isparta rugs, and Oriental weapons and armor are perhaps the most expressive elements. The salon has an indoor marble fountain.
Salonul Turcesc (The Turkish Parlor) emulates an Ottoman “joie de vivre” atmosphere – a room full of Turkish Izmir rugs and copperware from Anatolia and Persia. It was used as a smoking room for gentlemen. Walls are covered in hand-made textiles like silk brocades from the Siegert shops of Vienna.
It is remarkable that unlike other royal families, the monarchs shared a bedroom.
The complex is northwest of the town of Sinaia, which is 60 kilometres (37 mi) from Brasov and 135 kilometres (84 mi) from Bucharest. Nestled in the southeastern Carpathian Mountains, the complex is composed of three monuments: Peleş Castle, Pelişor Chateau, and Foişor Huntin