Me too. I never knew what the Carpathians were or are. Turns out the Carpathians are a mountain range poised majestically in the west part of Romania. And the royal family of Romania chose these mountains for their summer residence. But they had to build a palace suitable for their well-financed tastes. So this is what they built.

It's really not bad for just a summer residence. Considering their main palace was in Bucharest. But for a summer in the woods, it must have done quite well (and cost a fortune). I went there today and this is what I saw.

The place (sorry, palace) is relatively new by European timelines. Since the Ottomans ruled Romania until the mid 1860s, there was no royal family here. But when the Ottomans were finally sent running, the country's politicians (for reasons that escape me) decided they needed to find a royal family to rule the roost. So they found New (then) King Carol in Germany and brought him to Romania.

This is his statue in front of his Romanian financed summer residence (estimates put it at about $120 million US). These people knew how to live good. So lets take a look at this place. It's well-intact, since it was built only a century or so ago. (1873 to 1914, but commenced operations in 1883). Thus, when the communists booted out the monarchy after the Second World War, no one touched the place much until it has now become a major tourist attraction. Rightly so. It's also known as Peles Castle.

First, a view or two from outside.


But going inside reveals a world of detail and expense that is hard to capture in words or images. But I can say that it shows a mix of two things: first an intense focus on aesthetics and art (without, of course, considering the cost) and also a practical sense. What rooms did these people need and how best to put it together?

For example, here are some images of the room made to present plays, but converted into a cinema room at the turn of the 20th century.


The rectangular paintings just above the door and around the room are originals by Gustav Klimt.

But to step back a moment, when you enter the palace, this is your staircase.

And this is the entrance hallway. The European woodwork is beyond anything I've seen



And then the royal family and their troops of architects, engineers and carpenters designed rooms on different styles, depending (methinks) on the whims of the royal family.
For example, the King liked collecting weapons, so the weapons room took on an almost gothic tone.

But the Queen was quite an artist in her own right, so took some different liberties with design.


Here, in an image through a mirror, is her painting studio: the roof designed as an upside down view of a boat.

The dining room is fit for royalty. The European royalty were a tight knit group. Perhaps too much. But they sure talked to each other about what was expected for good dining.

And when other royals came to visit during the summer residence, this would be their guest bedroom.

And so when that tour was over, I had a lunch overlooking the place. This was my view.

And a close up of that view.

You may not be interested much in what I had for lunch. There weren't many choices.

I had a salami sandwich. And although you might not be interested in a salami sandwich, my friend who shared my lunch with me was.

And since we are doing building tours, lets go just down the street to see the prince's summer palace.

At the King's request the money from the Romanian treasury got unleashed on a new project. Started in the late 1800's, and finished in 1903, the smaller palace became the prince and princess's summer home.

But what struck me as remarkable is the quality of the choices they made when designing the place. The princess was an artist in her own right and to me showed amazing taste, while spending a fortune of the Romanian treasury.


Although traditionally Austro-Hungarian in its exterior (here's me being an expert on architecture) the inside is a surprising mix of different design styles. They hired the best of European furniture designers to make each room a unique place. So lets go inside.