Sinaia, the town compared to a “Little Versailles”, is a wonderful place, with a remarkable history and places that must be visited. Sinaia was for a long time the town where everybody would come to spend their holidays, for the Casino or simply just because it was fashionable. Until 1947 the history of the town overlapped with the history of the Royal Court of Romania, and the estate where the Peles Castle became the summer residence of the royal family, many of the political events of Romania took place at Sinaia. The buildings of the town have a special historic charge, from the Sinaia Monastery to the Peles Castle, the Casino, “George Enescu” Memorial House and up to the platform of the Royal Station, where prime-minister I.G. Duca was assassinated, everything reminds of the lively history of the Romanian monarchy.
If you come to Sinaia, here are the tourist landmarks that you must not miss:
The Peleș Castle
The Peles Castle was built between 1873-1883 and 1890-1914, on a land property of the sovereign and was financed by the personnel fund of King Carol I. The final costs for the execution and ornamentation raised up to 16 million lei in gold. It was the first castle in Europe with central heating and electricity, before the Buckingham Palace, and the theatre hall and entrance hall have original Gustav Klimt paintings, ordered by King Carol I. It’s worth visiting at a slow pace and looked at in detail, given that it hosts one of the vastest collections of paintings, sculptures, textiles, silverware or ceramics. Peles comes today on the top of the most beautiful and visited 10 castles in the world. Next to the Peles Castle, the Pelisor Castle can be visited, the summer residence of the crown prince. Here lived King Ferdinand and Queen Maria until their deaths. The Pelisor Castle can be deemed the edifice in Romania offering the most significant representations of ornamental arts in Europe in the 1900s.
The Royal Sheepfold
This is located in the Bucegi National Park, at an altitude of 1270 and there was a time when it was one of the favourite places of the Royal Family. For many years it was nearly forgotten off the tourist attractions list in the area. The Old Royal Sheephold is still standing and can be seen through a wire fence, but it cannot be visited. The main attraction is the Sheephold Vista, a wonderful area where many plants and flowers grow, including flowers protected by the law, and it can be accessed either by car, or hiking through the woods.
“George Enescu” Memorial House
Everybody knows the “George Enescu” museum in Bucharest, but the house George Enescu loved most is at Sinaia. It is called Vila Luminiș and was built between 1923 - 1927, based on the drawings made by George Enescu whose talent at daring was well known and with the money earned on his first tour in America. The special relationship between George Enescu and Sinaia is also due to a special relationship with the Royal Family, and Vila Luminiș is the place where, for 20 years, he kept coming back to peacefully write music. Together with the communist occupation, George Enescu was forced to leave the country, and in 1947, he donated to the Romanian government his properties in Bucharest, Tescani and Sinaia, to be used by the people of culture and art. It is not by chance that Vila Luminis is located on Yehudi Menuhin Street in Sinaia.
The Train Museum
The Train Museum is located on the premises of the Sinaia railways station and it is a delightful secret to anyone how it preserved its childlike soul. The Museum contains an extraordinary collection of miniature trains, as well as complex models of railways stations, tunnels, train yards, including copies of some European railways stations reproduced in detail. They are the masterpiece of an Italian called Alberto Drera, who loved Sinaia. After his daughter’s death he donated all the models to Sinaia Railway Station. By the exit there is a rail-car that belonged to Ana Pauker: an armoured Mercedes, with train wheels, that she used to travel by railroad.
The Sinaia Railways Station
At Sinaia station used to stop – and still does, once a year, by the end of summer – the legendary train the Orient Express. The old royal railways station was built for King Carol I, and after the royal family was exiled, it was in turn, projection hall, workers’ club, carpentry workshop or dance club. This railway station was in use until 1940, when the new Royal Railway Station was inaugurated, for Carol II, that today is used strictly as protocol hall. Sinaia is among the few European cities to have had two railways stations meant for the royal families and visits of high dignitaries. In 1915, from the platform of the old Royal Railway Station, started on his journey to his resting place at Curtea de Arges the lifeless body of King Carol I, and then in 1927, the lifeless body of King Ferdinand followed. In December 1933, prime minister I. Gh. Duca was assassinated by the entrance to the railways station, and in 1948, King Mihai and the Queen Mother Elena, get from this platform on the train to exile and leave Romania for a long time.
The Sinaia Casino
The Casino at Sinaia is a neo-classical building, commissioned in 1913. The Casino sits on the location of the former villa of Prince Dimitrie Ghica and it was built by the Civilian Hospital Vestry. From the earnings of the Casino, that in the ’30 had reached the climax (approximately 800 gamblers/day), the Civilian Hospital Vestry would take their share, as well as the Town Hall, using the money on maintaining and embellishing the town. But, in January 1947, it was permanently closed down, by the order of the communist president Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej. Today, the Casino host cultural and artistic events and it holds still as an imposing and spectacular building.