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Brasov Castles - easy day trips in Transylvania


Peleș palace

Brasov Romania and the surrounding region of Transylvania beckon travelers with beautiful scenery, captivating history and wonderful culture. Brasov city center itself is a charming medieval city, with winding cobblestone streets, colorful baroque buildings, a lively central square and the famous black church. However, it's the surrounding areas that truly enchant. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture aficionado, or simply seeking an escape into a land steeped in folklore, Brasov and Transylvania promise an unforgettable and truly magical experience. In this article I will go over a few of the famous castles of Romania to explore in this beautiful area, including one of my favorite castles in Europe. 


Bran castle (Count Dracula castle)


Bran Castle

Bran Castle, famously known as Dracula's Castle, is a medieval fortress perched atop a rocky outcrop. It is usually the first stop for visitors exploring the countryside of Transylvania. For those visiting from Brasov, this is a great day trip. The journey from Brasov to Bran Castle is straightforward and takes approximately 30-40 minutes by car or bus. If you are taking the bus, there is a direct route from Brasov main station to Castelul Bran station. It is then a 5 minute walk to the castle. Taking a taxi from Brasov is another option and not too expensive at around $20.00. Of course, there are also many organized tours to join, which typically include transportation and a knowledgeable tour guide making it a great way to see the castle. 


Bran Castle Romania

One of the most visited places in the country, Bran Castle's association with Dracula stems from the famous Bram Stoker's novel. The connection though is primarily based on the author's vivid imagination rather than historical fact. Vlad tepes, Vlad the impaler, or Vlad Dracula who is said to have inspired the stories of Dracula, actually lived in Peonari castle, which lies about 3 hours southwest of Brasov. However, Bran Castle and the surrounding area have whole-heartedly grabbed on to this association. You will find Dracula references and souvenirs all over Bran village and area. 


Bran Castle Transylvania

The castle's history dates back to the 14th century when it served as a fortification against invading armies. Over the centuries, Bran Castle has been occupied by various noble families, including the renowned Habsburgs. In the early 20th century, it became the cherished residence of Queen Marie of Romania, who oversaw extensive renovations and brought the castle back to its former glory.


Bran castle interior

As you explore the castle's labyrinth of chambers, corridors, and towers, you'll uncover a treasure trove of fascinating details. For example, the torture chamber is a place to learn about the gruesome methods of punishment employed in medieval times while Queen Marie's tea room is a charming room that offers a glimpse into the refined lifestyle of royalty. From the panoramic terrace you can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding Carpathian Mountains and the picturesque town of Bran. The castle's narrow staircases were purposely designed to impede potential invaders so come prepared for your thighs to burn. Make sure to walk around the outside of the castle to see it at different angles. The castle's museum houses a collection of historical artifacts, furniture, weapons and traditional costumes. 


Bran castle staircase

During the winter the castle is open from 9:00- 4:00 every day except for Mondays when it is open 12:00 to 4:00. In the summer it is open from 9:00 to 6:00 except for Mondays when it is open 12:00 to 6:00.  Entrance fees are 70lei. If you are visiting during the summer months, make sure to book ahead as it can become very busy. 


Peleș Palace 


Peleș castle

The magnificent Peles castle is a true architectural gem that beckons visitors from far and wide. Whether you're a history buff, an admirer of exquisite craftsmanship, or simply seeking a glimpse into the opulent life of Romanian royalty, a visit to this stunning castle is an absolute must. This is one of my favorite castles in all of Europe and definitely worth seeing.


Peles Palace interior

Peleș castle is located just outside the charming mountain resort town of Sinaia.  From Brașov, the journey to  Peles Palace is very scenic, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. About an hour drive from Brasov, it is very easy to reach by car. Just a note though, even if you are driving the parking is about a ten minute walk from the palace itself. It is a very pretty walk with great views of the castle but be aware that you can't just drive right up to the palace. If you need to take public transportation, take the train from Brasov to Sinaia and then hop on the T1 bus from 

Policlinica Gară station to Piațeta Foișor station and then it is a 10 minute walk from there. The journey will take about an hour and a half. There are many organized tours available from Brasov as well. 


Peles Palace interior room

Peles Palace was commissioned by King Carol I, Romania's first king, in the late 19th century. It took nearly 40 years to construct, with the king himself closely overseeing every aspect of its design and construction. The result is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends various architectural styles, from Renaissance and Gothic to German and French Baroque. This palace was used as the summer residence of the Romanian royal family. This fairytale castle will impress with its impressive exterior and lavish interior. Everywhere you look you see exquisite wood carvings, hand-painted frescoes and ornate stained-glass windows. I really can't state how impressive the woodwork and stained glass is in this palace.


Drawing room Peles palace

Upon entering the palace, you'll be transported into a world of opulence and grandeur, where every room tells a story of its own. The Honors Room showcases an impressive collection of decorations, medals, and other honors bestowed upon the Romanian royal family while the Armory Room houses an extensive array of weapons, armors, and hunting trophies, reflecting the kings' passion for the hunt. The Theater Room was designed to resemble an intimate theater, this room boasts intricate woodcarvings and plush seating, where the royals and their guests would enjoy private performances.


The Moorish Room features intricate tile work, arabesques, and stunning stained-glass windows that transport you to the exotic world of the Middle East. Make sure to take a stroll through the palace's beautifully manicured gardens, where you'll find a wealth of fountains, statues, and perfectly landscaped paths.

 

Moorish Room Peles palace

Peleș Palace is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the winter. During the summer it is closed on Mondays. Hours are around 9:00 - 5:00 but it does depend on the day and season so check the website. There are different tour options. You can visit the ground floor, the ground floor and the first floor, or the ground floor and the second floor. Be aware that if you go on Tuesdays you will only be able to visit the ground floor. Tour price for the ground floor is 50lei, for the ground floor and 1st floor is 100lei, and the ground floor, 1st floor and 2nd floor is 150lei. While all the main sites and grandest rooms are on the ground floor, I like the tour that shows all three floors. This is a great tour because you get to see the grandeur of the more public spaces, and then the more intimate private quarters. 


Pelisor castle is also on the grounds. This is a palace that was made for the prince. There are separate opening hours and separate tickets to tour this palace. Unless you are really into Romanian history or architecture, I would probably just stick to Peles Palace.


Sinaia

Sinaia monastery

While you are in the area make sure to wander the town of Sinaia, known as the pearl of the Carpathians. This is a charming resort town known for hiking and skiing. While it is not a castle, I am quickly telling about the town and monastery of Sinaia in this post because it is very close to Peles Palace and is a must see.


old chapel Sinaia monastery

Founded in 1695, Sinaia monastery is still inhabited by 13 Christian Orthodox monks. The great church is gorgeous but the old church is the real jewel in my opinion. It is a tiny chapel covered with spectacular colorful frescoes. It is usually open from 8:00 am to 8:00pm. You will need the whole day to see the palace, the town and the monastery but visiting all three makes for a really spectacular day.  


Sinaia monastery paintings

​Rasnov Citadel


Rasnov Citadel

Perched atop a towering rocky hilltop, the formidable Rasnov Fortress or Citadel makes for another fabulous day trip from Brasov. The trip from Brasov to Rasnov Fortress is a short and scenic one, taking approximately 15-20 minutes by car. There are frequent buses that run between Brasov and Rasnov, departing about every 15 minutes. Organized tours are another great option. The parking lot is at the bottom of the hill below the citadel. To reach the top you can walk, or there is a train that will drive you to the top, passing a dinosaur park for children. I would take the train as it is very cheap and definitely worth not having to climb. Another option is to take a funicular from the town. 


Rasnov fortress

Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by the fortress's imposing walls and towers, standing as a defiant reminder of the region's turbulent history. Rasnov Fortress dates back to the 13th century when it was constructed by the Teutonic Knights as a bastion against invading armies. Over the centuries, the fortress served as a refuge for the local Saxon population during times of conflict and upheaval. Because of this, it had houses, a school, a chapel and other buildings more closely associated with a town than a castle. For defense it had nine towers, a drawbridge and high walls. During its history it only surrendered once in 1612. Its last siege was in 1690 when the Ottoman empire attacked. As of the writing of this post, Rasnov Fortress is under reconstruction and therefore you can only visit the grounds. It is still worth a visit though to explore the grounds, climb the walls and walk around the exterior. When the citadel is open you can explore sights such as the Peasant Citadel where you'll find a labyrinth of narrow streets, houses, and courtyards, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of the fortress's former inhabitants,the Torture Chamber and the Weaver's Tower where you can marvel at the intricate weaving machines that were once used by the fortress's skilled textile workers.


Rasnov walls

Of course, these are only a few castles located in Transylvania. Others include Faragas fortress, Jidvei Bethlen Haller Castle, and Feldioara citadel. Also, don't forget the amazing fortified churches, some of which are a Unesco site. 


Ready to travel to the castles of Transylvania? If you would like us to design a custom itinerary for you, contact us at eurotravelsbydesign@gmail.com.



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