The Peleș Castle in Sinaia is one of the 12 most beautiful castles in Europe. While I was living in Romania, under the Communist regime, the entire Peleș estate was closed and the area was declared a “State Protocol Interest Area.” Only military personnel and maintenance persons were permitted on the property, so I was never able to visit it. It was only twenty five years later, during my last trip to Romania that I finally got to see it.
The castle was built by Carol I of Hohenzollern, King of Romania, who after visiting the area, fell in love with the magnificent mountain scenery and commissioned the construction of a royal hunting preserve and summer retreat. The construction lasted for over 40 years (1873-1941), but the castle was inaugurated in 1883. The cost was estimated to be 16,000,000 Romanian lei in gold (approx. US$ 120 million today). The Peleș Castle remained in the royal family possession until 1947, when King Michael I was forced to abdicate. The Communist regime of Romania seized all royal property, including the Peleș Estate.
For a short period of time the castle was opened as a tourist attraction and also served as a recreation place for cultural and political personalities. Artists like George Enescu, Sarah Bernhardt, Jacques Thibaud, as well as foreign dignitaries such as Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Muammar al-Gaddafi were hosted at the castle. In 1975 the Peleș Castle was declared a “State Protocol Interest Area” and remained closed to the public until 1990. Today the castle is a museum again.