This is also the one where there are the most numerous highlight sightseeing.
Riding along it, just when you start feeling like being on a photo safari you reach Sinaia resort.
Its charm is due both to the grace of the architecture and to the wonderful natural setting.
That’s why its nickname is the pearl of Carpathian Mountains.
Here you can ski on sky due to the unique phenomenon in Romania named “sea of clouds”.
Between the elevations of 1400 and 2000 meters tourists have the sensation of skiing above the clouds ceiling.
Initially in this place there was only Izvor (Source) village.
The only villagers were those who watched over Sinaia monastery, named after Sinai Mount.
King Carol I of Romania was one of Romania’s great kings and conqueror of National Independence.
Born in 1839 Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, he ruled between 1866 and 1914.
The year of 1866 was also the one when he first visited the region and future site of the castle.
He fell in love with the rugged but magnificent mountain scenery.
So he ordered a complex composed of 3 monuments:
– the opulent Peles Castle for His Majesty and Queen Elisabeth,
– the nearby Castelul Pelisor (Little Peles Castle) as summer residence for King Ferdinand
– and Foisorul de Vanatoare (Hunting Pavilion).
Royal family lived for 12 years within the last one, until workers finished Peles Castle.
Their daughter, Princess Mary, insisted with the King to bring her to Peles creek too.
That was the period when Sinaia mountain resort became famous.
Don’t miss out the Little trains exhibition within Sinaia Train Station
Sinaia CasinoThe imposing building with unique architecture was originally designed for gambling.
They built it in only 1 year (1911-1912) on the site of resort’s first villa: Ghika Villa, built by Prince Dimitrie Ghika.
The main shareholder was the Baron of Marçay, also shareholder at Monte Carlo Casino.
That’s why rumors said this building would be the precise replica of French edifice.
In fact, the 2 casinos share only a few elements of interior architecture.
Casino’ opening event included a high-performance show and a George Enescu concert, ending with fireworks.
Both the royal family and Prime Minister Titu Maiorescu attended this event.
Weekly pleasure train
Soon the casino became the resort’s irresistible attraction and an important revenue source for its shareholders.
During weekend, Bucharest-Sinaia “train of pleasure” brought here the addicts of roulette, cards (baccarat, Brazilian), rummy, chess…
Unbelievable but this “social magnet” succeeded to attract between 600 and 800 guests each play day.
The bar-restaurant, where they also danced, had a jazz orchestra.
In the private small room with only 2 tables the minimum stake was 5 times higher than in the others.
Players were highly confident in their chances of significant gains.
Before entering, they were throwing silver coins in the artesian fountain nearby the casino.
But once inside, seduced by gambling exhilaration, they lose important amounts of money.
They were getting to gamble inclusively their jewelry and gold chain watches and then to borrow with huge interests.
Benli and Red Cross Society
At that time, resort’s most original bazaar was only two steps away from Casino.
Here, there was a Turk, Hagi Benlian (known as Benli), with burgundy-red turban and silk baggy trousers.
He was luring pedestrians with all kind of Oriental adornments, sweets like in Istanbul, tobacco or cigarettes and coffee.
For a few coins discreetly slipped in his palm, Benli was telling in the coffee cup 2-3 fortunate numbers (from 1 to 9).
Then customers quickly run to play these at roulette.
After Second World War, Sinaia Casino passed into state ownership.
It was closed and used for a while by Red Cross Society.
After major restorations that kept its elegance, it became Sinaia’s House of Culture, nowadays being an International Conference Center.
A guided tour of this beautiful Casino will lead you not only back through its interesting history but also on its terrace.
This has a great view overlooking the city and Bucegi massif.
You will also visit the superb interior garden, as well as the halls hosting the permanent painting exhibition.
Peles Castle ~ 6th most spectacular one in the world
Fairy tales alike, this is the 6th most spectacular castle in the world after:
1) Hohenzollern Castle – Germany
2) Howard Castle – Great Britain
3) Alcázar of Segovia – Spain
4) Himeji Castle – Japan
5) Prague Castle – Czech Republic
6) Peles Castle – Romania
7) Chambord Castle – France
8) Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany
9) Corfe Castle – Great Britain
10) Matsumoto Castle – Japan.
The breath-taking grounds of the castle was setting for “The Brothers Bloom” (2007)
The stars were Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz and the movie received 3 Oscar nominations.
Take a tour of the adorned saloons.
You will admire a large number of statues, vases, fountains, mosaics and other art exhibits hosted within it.
The story about the secret passage will captivate you.
And so it will do the hand carved teak set received as gift by Their Majesties.
Queen Elisabeth of Romania’s notes
“Italians were masons, Romanians were building terraces, the Gypsies were coolies.
Albanians and Greeks worked in stone, Germans and Hungarians were carpenters.
Turks were burning brick.
Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czechs.
The Frenchmen were drawing, and the Englishmen were measuring…” Queen Elisabeth of Romania was writing at that time.
Apparently, there were 14 languages heard among the workers.
Peles Castle’s architectural style is a Neo-Renaissance of romantic inspiration.
Its correspondent in the 19th century ideals would be the monumental Gothic Revival of Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.
Architects Johannes Schultz and Karel Liman designed it.
And famous interior designers J. D. Heymann of Hamburg, August Bembé of Mainz, and Berhard Ludwig of Vienna decorated it.
With a multicolored style combining Baroque and Rococo influences, the magnificent castle defies any comparison…
It hosted grand figures guests like:
* royalty (Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austro-Hungary),
* politicians and artists (George Enescu, Sarah Bernhardt, Jacques Thibaud or Vasile Alecsandri).
Queen Elizabeth of Romania – known to literature as Carmen Sylva – often had the last ones as guests.
In 1953 the castle became a museum.
It shelters one of the most valuable and most important painting collections in Europe: almost 2,000 items.
Between 1975-1989 communists declared the entire area state protocol interest area and closed it.
But Nicolae Ceausescu did not like the castle very much so he rarely visited it.
In 2007, King Michael I of Romania has regained the ownership over Peles estate and extensions.
King Michael I of Romania
Born on October 25, 1921 in Sinaia, King Michael I of Romania was son of King Carol II and Queen Helen.
His first reign started in 1927, after the death of his grandfather King Ferdinand I.
After King Carol II came back to Romania’s throne, his mother Queen Helen left the country.
So King Michael remained in the care of his father.
When the latter abdicated in 1940, he became again King Michael I.
In December 1947 communist authorities forced King Michael to abdicate.
Signed under threat, the abdication act is illegal, invalid and never passed the Romanian Parliament.
After an exile that started in 1948, the King returned to Bucharest in 2001.
Since 2004, King Michael and Queen Anna lived in Aubonne, Switzerland.
When coming to Romania, they used to reside at Savarsin Castle or at Elizabeta Palace in Bucharest.
The pearl earrings of the king’s lover
In the early 20th century, Elena Lupescu became the lover of Romania’s King Carol II.
So on one occasion the king gave her a pair of large pearl earrings as a gift.
In 1977 one of her English friends inherited them.
This had no idea of their value and didn’t particularly like them.
So she left the royal gift forgotten in a drawer for 35 years.
Out of curiosity, current owner had them valued for auction together with other heirlooms, being astonished to discover their value.
They fetched just under EUR 2 million at auction (2012) !
Swiss Gemological Institute described the pearls as outstanding examples, worthy of special attention.
Known as ‘Pearl of Orient’ the rose/blue iridescence is particularly sought after.
Both the size and color of the large pearls match, which is apparently quite rare.
Auction house Woolley & Wallis estimated the earrings’ between about EUR 100 – 150,000.
But the price went up and up as bidders, dead set on owning the royal pearls, refused to back down.
Thus both the auction house and the vendors were absolutely thrilled with the result.
Pelisor CastleThe vast architectonic ensemble created by King Carol I on Peles Creek Valley, includes Pelisor (Little Peles Castle).
Built between 1899 – 1903 as a royal and princely residence, its initial purpose was to be used as bell tower.
After tower’s demolition, they moved its 1,700 kg bell to Sinaia Monastery.
But it became summer residence for King’s nephew and heir, the future King Ferdinand (son of Carol’s brother Leopold von Hohenzollern) and Ferdinand’s consort Queen Mary.
In 2006, castle’s complex, including Pelisor – museum and tourist site for a long time – became legal property of Romanian royal family’s heirs.
Pelisor still keeps the pregnant memory of Mary, Queen of all Romanians, King Ferdinand and their children.
Some consider it even more interesting than Peles and unmissable.
Czech architect Karel Liman designed Pelisor in Art Nouveau style.
Furniture and interior decorations were designed mostly by Viennese Bernhard Ludwig.
Art Nouveau artistic current from 1900 defined both the end and beginning of a century.
It bestowed personality to an epoch and included all artistic genres related to exterior and interior environment.
Accomplished artist, Queen Elisabeth considered Art Nouveau a weapon against sterile historicism.
So she created a personal style combining Art Nouveau elements with Byzantine and Celtic elements.
She herself made many artistic decisions about Pelisor Castle’s design.
And participated in its decoration, inclusively as a painter.
In order to complete the Royal House Collection initially constituted by King Carol I, Queen Elisabeth and especially Queen Mary of Romania acquired important Art Nouveau pieces.
Hunting PavilionOriginally meant to be King Carol I hunting lodge, this has also a swimming pool, which Peles and Pelisor do not have.
King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth lived here until Peles castle was finished.
King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, also lived here until Pelisor Castle was finished.
In 1921, King Michael – son of King Carol II and Queen Helen – was born here.
Being a state protocol residence, it could never be visited.
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