Despite joining the EU back in 2007, Romania is still a budget destination, especially now with all the cheap flights that connect its cities with the rest of Europe. Finding affordable airline tickets to and from Romania is now easy, so there’s no excuse to miss out on all the places to visit in Romania. Romania is a territory of great natural beauty and diversity with a rich cultural heritage. From medieval fortresses and centuries old monasteries to amazing castles and one world famous legend – Count Dracula’s – the country has a lot to offer to its visitors. However, it is currently drawing only modest crowds, which means little or no cues at all in front of the tourist attraction.
Romania has an alluring collection of castles of haunting beauty. The elegant Peles Castle, Corvinesti Castle and Bran Castle, legendary home to Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula are my personal favorites.
Before the late 1800s, the Romanian castles erected used to be strong and austere fortresses built mainly for defense purposes. However, that changed in the last centuries when imposing and luxurious structures started to take form.
The magnificent Peles Castles, with its fairytale like turrets and pointed towers, rises above acres of green meadows sprinkled with haystacks.
The castle was built between 1873 and 1914, as a summer residence and retreat, by Romania’s longest serving monarch, King Carol I, who died and was buried here just months after the castle’s completion. The costs raised to approximately $US 120 million at today’s currency rate.
The representative style used is German Renaissance, but one can easily discover elements belonging to the Italian Renaissance, Gothic, German Baroque and French Rococo style.
The castle was built in wood, stone, bricks and marble and comprises more than 160 rooms, most of which are open to the public.
Peles Castle is surrounded by seven terraces decorated with statues, stone-made-wells, ornamental vases and Carara marble. The architects used an abundance of wooden decoration, both for the exterior and for the interior of the castle, which confers a very special quality to the building.
Several other buildings, annexed to the castle, were built simultaneously: The Guard’s Chambers, The Economat Building, The Foisor Hunting House, The Royal Stables, and the Electrical Power Plant.
Peles Castle was the first castle in Europe to have central heating and electricity.
When the communists took the power Ceausescu did not like the castle very much and visited rarely. This seems to be due to some wicked specialists who, counting on the Ceausescu couple’s paranoid health phobias, declared the building to be infested with a dangerous fungus, which in 1980s was true to a certain extent but was only affecting the timber.
Located in Sinaia at 44 km from Brasov, in Transylvania, Peles Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in all Europe.
The interiors are massively covered in sculpted wood.
Every single inch of the castle is beautifully and richly decorated and the furniture, the stained glass windows depicting German fairy tales, the massive doors, the carpets and the paintings create an out of this world atmosphere.
Bran Castle looms over Transylvania with its ghostly silhouette and blood-red towers and turrets. Built on solid rock, the 13th century castle is supposed to have been the residence of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.
Nevertheless, according to the local legends, Count Vlad Tepes, also known as “Vlad the Impaler”, was only imprisoned here for two weeks.
Bran castle has 57 rooms and a spooky secret passageway leading up to the watch towers – not recommended for people suffering from claustrophobia!
Up in the tower that once served as the dungeon there are several Gothic chests that look suspiciously like coffins, if you really must give credit to the legends.
Bran Castle exhibits collections of furniture, weapons and armor dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The walls are all painted in white, but the old and narrow wooden doors and windows are nicely decorated and the fireplaces are all covered in delightful blue tiles.
There is no mention of Count Dracula here. Instead the exhibits all focus on the history of Romania’s former royal family, who lived here during the first part of the 20th century.
Bran Castle is situated on the border between Wallachia and Transylvania, two of the three historical parts of Romania, and 30 km far from Brasov. You can visit Bran Castle individually or by guided tours.
Corvinesti Castle also known as Hunyad Castle is located in Transylvania, in the city of Hunedoara. Built on the place of a former Roman camp, Corvinesti Castle is one of the most accomplished Gothic castles in Europe.
The castle is a large and imposing building with tall towers and myriad windows and balconies adorned with stone carvings, dominating the landscape from the top of a rock above the River Zlasti.
The access to the castle is ensured by a wooden bridge supported by stone pillars across the river, which takes you to the gate tower.
Corvinesti Castle served as a stronghold, as well as a princely residence. The castle has 42 rooms and an alluring courtyard. It also has a small but scary dungeon. Between its distinguished ‘guests’ was also Vlad Tepes who was imprisoned here for 7 years.
The construction of the medieval castle began in the 14-th century, under Iancu Corvin of Hunedoara’s ruling. Though the castle was built mainly in Gothic style, it also features Renaissance architectural elements.
The Corvinesti Castle doesn’t have much furniture left nowadays. Its rooms host art galleries of local artists and many, many gift shops where hand-crafted objects can be purchased.
In the castle’s yard is a well 30 meters deep dug into stone. The legend says that this fountain was dug by twelve Turkish prisoners to whom liberty was promised if they reached water. After 15 years they completed the well, but their captors did not keep their promise. It is said that the inscription on a wall of the well means “you have water, but not soul”.