Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Sinaia – A Relaxing Place Full Of History

When you hear of Sinaia, you link the word with fun, adventure, relaxation, and the sight of a historical place. Called the "Pearl of the Carpathians", this mountain resort is located at the foothills of Bucegi Mountains, offering nature lovers countless opportunities to spend the time in an enjoyable manner.

Sinaia developed as a mountain resort along with the construction of Peles Castle, also known as Summer Castle of King Carol I of Hohenzollern. The castle was built between 1873 and 1914 and its architecture is a combination of Neo Gothic and German Renaissance styles. Its interior there are found wooden sculptures in the German style, but also Venetian, Moorish and Turkish styles, the castle being decorated by designers such as JD Heymann Hamburg, August Bemba of Mainz and Bernhard Ludwig from Vienna. Peles has 160 rooms, but not all of them are open to the public. However, those that tourists can visit are spectacular, from the collection of weapons, to details such as Murano crystal chandeliers or German glass art design. Everywhere you can see the influence of Queen Elizabeth, best known under the literary pseudonym Carmen Sylva, who was attracted to Celtic and Scandinavian elements, bringing in the castle Scandinavian crosses, Norwegian chairs or panels.

The castle was declared a museum in 1953 and is one of the best kept and maintained castles in Romania.Next to Peles there are found two equally important buildings: Pelisor and Turret, however the latter being closed to the public. Pelisor was the summer residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Maria. The exterior of the palace was conducted in German Renaissance style, in 1902, and the Queen was responsible for the interior decoration, using the themes of Art Nouveau, with Tiffany and Lalique glass and Viennese furniture. The Turret was built before Peles, and here Charles and Elizabeth lived until the completion of the main castle, and also Ferdinand and Maria, until Pelisor was finished. The current building is not, however, similar to its appearance in the past, the Turret being rebuilt between 1932-1933, after a fire destroyed the building. Although at first it had 43 rooms, during the communism period it was expanded with another wing, the building being used for meeting protocols. In 1966 its dimensions were increased again, since Ceausescu wanted to look from somewhere above the royal family. Pelisor is open to public visits, but the Turret is used only for state protocol.

In Sinaia, one can also visit the monastery of the same name, located near the Peles Castle. It was founded by Mihail Cantacuzino, impressed by what he saw after a visit to St. Catherine's Monastery on Sinai Mount. Between 1690-1695, the small church dedicated to St Mary was built, along with the chapel and the citadel surrounding it. The great church, "The Holy Trinity" was built between 1843 and 1846, and the church chapel, "Transfiguration", dates from 1972. Inside the monastery, there operates a small religious museum, the first of its kind in Romanian country, which has a copy of the first Bible printed in Romanian language, from 1688. Like the other buildings in Sinaia, the monastery itself is an art museum, due to its architectural style ( Brancovan) (you can see, in the small church, the columns carved in stone and decorated with floral designs).

In addition to the edificies they can visit, tourists are attracted to Bucegi Mountains, which rise above the town of Sinaia. Winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy many opportunities to practice winter activities in the Sinaia's ski slopes : Dorului, Old Road (Drumul Vechi) or Carp Valley, depending on their degree of difficulty. Also, you can easily reach an altitude of 1400 m or 2000 m by taking the cable car, and once arrived there, tourists are offered a panorama of the city. The 1400 m altitude can be reached even by car and frequently tourists are "visited" by the bears. Also, those passionate about hiking can follow the mountaineous trails, where landscapes are simply overwhelming. Among the most popular routes there are included: Sinaia- Poiana Stnii, Sinaia-Piscul Cinelui, Sinaia-Cuibul Dorului. In addition, on the road to Targoviste, before you get to Sinaia, you can reach to the Bolboci Lake, then climbing to the Ialomita cave, inside which it is found the Monastery of Ialomita. On the same route you can reach to the Bucegi Plateau, where you can admire the Old Women (Babele) and the Sphinx, the famous rock formations. From here you can get quite easily to the Caraiman Cross, following the signs.

Sinaia is both a summer and winter resort and is often the first choice of those who wish to spend their vacation on Prahova Valley.

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