Romania: Sinaia, pearl of the Carpathians

Grounds of Peles Castle, Sinaia, Romania
Sinaia is a mountain resort in the Prahova district of Romania, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, an hour’s drive from the capital Bucharest. I visited in the depths of winter when all the country was covered with a white blanket of snow.

The place was established by King Carol I around 1880 because the region reminded him of his native Germany. He purchased land and brought a German architect across in 1873. This influence can be seen in the steep pointed roofs with tiny round tiles, a chalet style that was popular in the German Renaissance.

The village of Sinaia is a collection of beautifully ornate villas with decorative stonework and wooden gingerbread everywhere. The winter snows won’t leave until April at the earliest and Christmas is just around the corner.

Sinaia village, Romania

Castle Peles is just outside the town and was established in 1883 as the summer residence of the royal family. Carol filled it with Chinoiserie jewel cases, Murano glass chandeliers and Carrara marble fireplaces.

Each room is in a different architectural style: Gothic, Venetian, German, Baroque, the list goes on. There is a Spanish Moorish hall that is a copy of one in the Alhambra in Granada, and a French-style hall.

Peles Castle, Sinaia, Romania

At the time it was Europe’s most modern castle, with electricity from a tiny hydro plant, running water, a telegraph station and a form of air conditioning or central heating. The ornate fireplaces were just for show!

Peles Castle, Sinaia, Romania

There was even a central vacuum cleaning system and the 16-metre-high stained glass roof over the central Hanner Hall could be withdrawn. Inside there is a lot of delicate wood carving, strong coloured carpets and hangings, and nostalgic pieces such as Carol’s jousting suit and George Ionescu’s violin.

Also nearby is the Sinaia Monastery, founded in 1695 and named after the monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt. The three-petalled orthodox trinity structure of Romanian monasteries here gave way to a building with square sides.

Sinaia Monastery, Romania

In the Great Church believers were standing, kneeling, prostrating themselves on the carpet for the mass. The rich Byzantine gold decorations met the harmony of the singing in a beautiful  colloquy.

Sinaia Monastery frescoes, Romania

Here in the Prahova Valley there are many mountain resorts, set up for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Orthodox churches are topped with cupolas and bulbous crosses. The alpine wooden chalets have steep roofs and shingles.

And all now under a silent blanket of snow.

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you visited Sinaia and Castle Peles in Romania?


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About Natasha von Geldern

Natasha von Geldern is the World Wandering Kiwi, a freelance travel writer, editor and inveterate traveller who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real one trip at a time.


  1. The more I read about Romania, the more I think that it’s time I go and pay a visit. It looks like a fascinating country, full of history, art and beautiful landscapes.
    Simon recently posted..Living the Dream… New Zealand, Here I Come!My Profile

  2. Greetings from Romania (^_^)
    Thank you for this beautiful article, I’m glad you enjoyed Sinaia, it’s one of my favorite places when I want to relax for a weekend.

  3. On my list now! Thnx
    Maria recently posted..Garage ImpMy Profile

  4. I also really liked this area. Like another world, really; a bit like travelling in a Grimms Brothers’ fairy tale. Probably even more magical in winter…
    Sophie recently posted..What to do in Lloret de MarMy Profile

  5. Beautiful shots…love the one of the snow covered monastery.
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Walt Disney World Dolphin ResortMy Profile

  6. Romania always looks so fascinating – great post!
    Andrea recently posted..Win a Weekend Stay At the Klaus K, Helsinki: Passports With Purpose 2012My Profile

  7. What fascinating photos! Very intricate architecture.
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Why Being a Teacher is the Best Job: The OTHER ReasonMy Profile

  8. This is so beautiful. Most people think it’s weird when I say I’ve always wanted to visit Romania and that I’d love to go hiking there. These photos show why that is. Can’t you just imagine snowshoeing or cross country skiing through these stunning landscapes?
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Celebrating 30 years of life on the Great Wall of ChinaMy Profile

  9. The castle is just awesome and imposing. I love it the most when it is surrounded by snow-flaked pines and trees.
    Wends of Journeys and Travels recently posted..2012 Top Awesome Travel Destinations by Travel BloggersMy Profile

  10. Thanks! We live in Romania now, but we haven’t been down there yet, we’re up in Maramures, far north. We just visited and fell in love, bought a house ( in this little peasant village.. We need to get down there soon but it’s so nice up here we don’t want to leave! Thanks for following us on Pinterest, that’s how we found you.
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