The Dracula’s Castle, situated in Rucar-Bran passage of Carpathians, is the main attraction for the majority of foreign tourists coming to Romania. But if you have the chance to reach the legendary Transylvania, you should schedule a more inclusive journey so that in only one day to discover more about the history, architectural styles and spectacular landscapes waiting silently and kingly for visitors in the Carpathians. Together with a group of foreign tourists from different countries, I tried such one-day adventure starting from Bucharest, passing through Sinaia, Brasov and ending up to Bran and I want to share with you the must-see sights as well as a few suggestions to make the best out of your trip from Peles Castle to Bran.
Trip to Peles Castle – the road from kilometre zero to the “pearl of Carpathians”
The start line of our trip was very closely to Universitatea Square, known as kilometre zero, and it was a good choice as all the way out from Bucharest our English-speaking guide from Mr. Tripp travel agency showed the tourists few of the main boulevards, indicating the most interesting sights worth to be visited in the capital of Romania like the ex-dictator Ceausescu’s villa or the Village Museum.
While the minibus drove on a fast road to our first destination, the passengers were offered not only a spectacular view, but rather the occasion to learn from the guide about the story of the Peles Castle in Sinaia and the history of Romania’s Royal Family, which can be actually separated one from the other.
And here we are in Sinaia, once known at the “pearl of Carpathians” and the first residence of the Romanian Royal family. Nowadays, it is a nice mountain resort offering specific entertainment like skiing in the winter, as well as chairlift and gondola lift rides in all seasons.
But the main attraction for visitors is the Peles domain and that was also our objective. It encloses the little castle of Pelisor, the great Peles Castle and the gardens around them. Pelisor, that is like a diminutive for Peles in the Romanian language, can be admired in its German architectural style only from outside, as it is close for the public.
Walking down through the domain, you will find the Peles Castle, beautiful and noble, in the middle of a spectacular mountain view. As it is one of the most visited touristic attraction, there is always a crowd of people waiting outside for their inside tour. So, it’s better to schedule this tour of Peles in an organized group. Anyway, the inside tour is available in English, is very well organized and it certainly provides a rich experience, both visually and historically. The mix of styles in the interior design of Peles Castle, the elegance and richness of materials, all those could mesmerize even the most experienced travellers, who might have visited the most famous castles from Europe. For instance, one young man coming from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who included Romania in their long trip through Europe, was so impressed by the Peles Castle that he stated that it is more beautiful than the well-known Schönbrunn from Vienna. The Austrian one apparently has a more beautiful garden, he added, to be fair to the end.
Brasov – the old city in the centre of Romania
The emblem of Brasov on a peak of the neighbouring mountain is the only similarity that you can find between this Transylvanian old city and the much more famous Hollywood from California. The clean air, the richly wooded peaks of the Carpathians surrounding it, the medieval buildings shape the very distinguished atmosphere of this beautiful city that you should visit in your trip.
You can enjoy well this city located in the middle of Romania only by walking the narrow streets and admiring the architecture of buildings, especially in the old centre or by just relaxing in the Council Square of Brasov.
But you can make the best of this city by admiring its medieval look, finding out a little more about its history marked by the big fire occurred in 1689, but also by the foreign influences that eventually helped Brasov become the great city during the modern times. And we had this occasion in our one-day trip thanks to the guided group walking on the streets of Brasov.
Dracula’s Castle in Bran – legends, true history and personal experience
After relaxing in the old city of Brasov, the minibus goes around 30 kilometres to Bran. It’s time to get scared. No, not of Dracula – he was not there anymore – but of the sharp upgrade (e ok) you must walk to reach the Bran Castle. Anyway, after catching your breath, you’ll see it’s worth the effort both for the view and for the castle itself.
Here, we also had an English guided tour through the rooms, the narrow and low passage ways and the rounded stairs of the legendary castle. However, clipboards inscribed also in English reveal the legends that made it so famous.
I tell you a very personal impression. Bran Castle is not so impressive when it comes to decorations and surely nobody will rank it in a beauty top of castles. But it was a special feeling that I experienced when stepping on the old woody stairs footworn through the ages and when touching the walls of such an old building, dated back in the 13th century.
If arriving to the Bran Castle, you should take a look to the souvenirs shops where you’d better avoid the kitsch objects and choose a handmade object like, for instance, the ia – the traditional Romanian embroidered peasant blouse for women. Or you could try a little carpet darned in traditional motifs. Rory, a Muslim woman coming from Jakarta, Indonesia chose one for her daily prayers. What a cultural combination, I must say!
At the beginning of our trip through Transylvania, tourists from Argentina, SUA, Germany, Israel were so curious to find out in advance which one of the two castle is the most beautiful. They came in Romania mostly for Dracula’s Castle tours, but some of them heard from the Romanians whom they already met in Bucharest that Peles is the most beautiful one. And at the end of the day, they came to the same conclusion. Anyway, each of the castles has a great personality due to interesting history and you should include them both in your trip when visiting Romania.