Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Peleş Castle

Peleş Castle, like Johann Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz, is so perfect in its way, so zeitgeistig, that if it didn't already exist it would have to be created. Far more successfully than even the famed Neuschwanstein Castle built by Ludwig II of Bavaria, the Romanian alpine estate incarnates 19th century troubadour romanticism.

This post will be short on text and long on photos, simply because the property is so extraordinarily visually seductive—but its history is very short. (We highly recommend that you click on any photo to launch the enlarged photostream.) The castle was the brainchild of Carol I, Romania's first monarch, who discovered the achingly picturesque alpine scenery in 1866, then ordered purchase of 500 square miles to form the royal estate of Sinaia in 1872.

The king rejected three initial proposals as too simplistically historicist and lacking inspiration, but the scheme of German architect Johannes Schultz delighted him. Construction began in 1873 and the castle was inaugurated a decade later, though major elements, most notably the main tower (which rises 217 ft.), were added over later years until the estate reached its final form in 1914. An amusing pseudo-anachronism: Peleş was the first castle to be fully wired for electricity from the outset, with its own generator building.

This amazing confection, melding Tyrolian, Germanic and Italian Renaissance styles into a tour-de-force of historicizing scenography, features typically bombastic fin-de-siècle rooms encrusted with ornate woodwork, but like all follies, the interiors are simply an excuse for the exterior.

The castle, today a state-run museum, holds important collections of swords and armor and also of art, including most notably three works by the young Gustav Klimt.

1 comment:

  1. Very lovely. The decorative details are remarkable but as remarkable are the age and technology.