If you’re in Romania for just a few days, you’ve got to check out the charming Peles Castle in Sinaia! Although Bran Castle, the supposed residence of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula, is the most famous castle in Romania, Peles Castle has a story equally intriguing, entwined with kings, queens, and the communist regime in Romania.

Peles Castle is an architectural masterpiece located in the Carpathian Mountains, built between 1873 and 1914 for King Carol I, serving as the royal summer residence during the monarchy.

What happened at Peles Castle during the communist regime in Romania?

During the communist regime in Romania, most properties were confiscated by the state, and Peles Castle was no exception. After 1965, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu exerted authoritarian control over the country and initiated a series of massive renovations and demolitions of national heritage buildings. Despite the couple’s attempts to transform numerous historical buildings to suit their tastes, Peles Castle remained a notable exception. This was largely due to a clever story about a “mysterious fungus.”

The Mysterious Fungus in Peles Castle’s Woodwork

During the communist regime, when Ceausescu sought to impose his style and ideas on this historic site, the castle’s curators found an intelligent way to discourage him. A story was spread about a dangerous fungus supposedly present in the castle’s woodwork that could endanger the health of anyone exposed to it. Although the existence of this fungus was a mere ruse designed to deter Ceausescu from making unwanted alterations, the impact of the story was significant.

The Ceausescu couple believed that even the forest surrounding Peles Castle was infected by the fungus.

The dictatorial Ceausescu couple was convinced to avoid making major changes to Peles Castle or imposing their own visions on the building, under the threat of the alleged “dangerous” fungus, whose spores could emerge from the woodwork and infect the air and furniture of the house. This fear not only led them to refrain from any extensive intervention or significant modification but also made them visit Peles Castle as rarely as possible, fearing possible health consequences.

Thus, the intelligent strategy of Peles Castle’s curators served as a protective measure for this architectural gem, allowing it to preserve its beauty and authenticity despite the pressures of the communist regime in Romania during that period.

The question is: is it worth visiting Peles Castle? The answer is: yes, absolutely! 

Especially since it is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Bucharest.

Other things to visit in Bucharest…

During your trip to Romania, we also recommend visiting the Museum of Communism in Bucharest, “Undeva în Comunism” located in the heart of Bucharest’s Old Town. In just one hour, you will learn the most important aspects of the communist regime in Romania and can interact directly with objects from the communist-era apartment inside the museum—a truly authentic experience! https://undevaincomunism.com/