Peleş Castle / Sinaia, Romania
Northwest of the town of Sinaia, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains is a complex of three monuments: Peleş Castle, Pelişor Chateau and Foisor Hunting Chateau. The most important of these is Peleş Castle which was built between 1873 and 1883 on an existing medieval route linking Transylvania and Wallachia. The castle was declared a national museum in 1953; however, during the last years of the communist regime (between 1975-1990), Ceauşescu closed the entire area off to visitors. According to some, this was due to Ceausescu's health phobias; he subsequently declared the building infested with dangerous fungus Serpula lacrymans. Fortunately, after the December 1989 Revolution, Peleş Castle was re-opened for tourism and it is indeed worth a stop. For us though, the highlight was a baby lion some guy was holding in his arms on the castle grounds - very cuddly.