I was born in Romania, where you can discover some of the best castles in the world. However, while I grew up there, I thought fortresses, castles and monasteries were something extremely common, which you could find anywhere in the world. After traveling to more than 50 countries up to date, I was proven wrong. Not only I didn’t find many – except in Wales, Scotland, Germany, Spain and a few other regions – but I discovered that Romania, if traveled from East to West and North to South, offers phenomenal sceneries rarely seen in the world. It should be on your Top 5 countries to see before you die (make sure you do it with the Spark Experience, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure consisting of 10 selected applicants – you could enter your name HERE).
I decided to put together a list with the most beautiful castles, fortresses and monasteries around Romania. Without a doubt, I am sure I am also missing a lot of them, so feel free to suggest for addition to this article. Without further do, here is a list with amazing locations:
1. Bran Castle aka Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania (Castelul Bran)
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Bran Castle (Romanian: Castelul Bran) is one of the most famous castles in the world. It is situated near Bran, a town located in Brasov County, right at the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. It is commonly known as Count Dracula’s castle. The first documented mentioning of Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on 19 November 1377. A few months ago, a Canadian brother and sister spent a night at Dracula’s Castle, sleeping in coffins as beds, after winning a competition. Siblings became the first people to pass the night there in 70 years. Watch the video below to see the two siblings spending the night in coffins at Bran Castle:
One of the cool things is that you could join a fabulous tour of Dracula’s Castle by being part of the Spark Experience, which I mentioned above. It will take you to Transylvania for something that’s more than a vacation. Enter your name for the amazing trip HERE.
2. Peles Castle, Inaugurated in 1883 (Castelul Peles)
Peles Castle (Romanian: Castelul Peleș) was built between 1873 and 1914 and is located near Sinaia, a town in Prahova County. It was constructed for King Carol I and had its inauguration in 1883. More details here. Below there is an image from the interior.
3. Corvin, One Of the Best Castles To Visit in Europe (Castelul Corvinilor)
This Gothic-Renaissance castle (pronounced Castelul Corvinilor in Romanian) is one of the largest castles in Europe. It was built in 1446 as a fortress, but also contained jail cells. More details here. The main image of this article also features the Corvin Castle and was taken by Florin Ihora. Watch the video below to see a complete tour of the Corvin Castle: Corvin Castle Complete Video Tour
4. Voronet Monastery, The Sixtine Chapel Of The East (Manastirea Voronet)
The Voroneț Monastery (Romanian: Manastirea Voronet) is a medieval monastery in the village of Voroneț, now a part of the town Gura Humorului. It is one of the famous painted monasteries from southern Bukovina (more below), in Suceava County. The monastery was constructed by Stefan Cel Mare (Stephen the Great) in 1488. It is also known as the Sixtine Chapel of the East.
5. Putna Monastery, Where Stephen the Great Is Buried (Manastirea Putna)
Putna Monastery (Romanian: Manastirea Putna) houses the tombs of Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great, one of the most important voivodes in the Romanian history) and several of his family members. It is a place of pilgrimage very popular these days. Located also in Suceava County.
6. Cantacuzino Castle, finished in 1911 (Castelul Cantacuzino)
The construction of the castle started at the request of Prince George Grigore Cantacuzino and was finalized in 1911. It is built in Neo-Romanian style. The total surface of the estate is over 3,000 square meters. Nowadays is a museum, just like all the other castles. Located in Prahova County and it is one of the other best castles to visit in Europe.
7. Crisan, aka the Cow Monastery (Manastirea Crisan)
This monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Romania, built in 1450. It is located in the village of Crisan, Ribita town, in the Hundeoara County. The Crisan Monastery is also known as Manastirea Vaca (Cow), after the name of an adjacent village called Vaca. Photo by Irinel Carlanaru.
8. Rasnov Citadel, A Medieval Fortress (Cetatea Rasnov)
The citadel was built between 1211-1225 as part of a defence system for the Transylvanian villages exposed to outside invasions. It is located in the city of Rasnov, Brasov County.
9. Sucevita, One Of The Most Famous Painted Monasteries in Bukovina (Manastirea Sucevita)
Located in the village of Radauti, Suceava County, this church contains both Byzantine and Gothic elements, and some elements typical to other painted monasteries of northern Moldavia. Both interior and exterior walls are covered by mural paintings and depict biblical episodes from the Old and New Testament. Built in 1585.
10. Viscri Fortified Church (Biserica Viscri)
This fortified church in located in the Viscri village, Brasov County, Transylvania. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a Lutheran church built by the German Transylvanian Saxon community. One of the oldest of its kind, built between 1141 and 1162.
11. Sturdza Castle, The Gothic Beauty (Castelul Sturza)
Located in Miclauseni, Iasi County. It is a Gothic-style palace built between 1880-1904 by George Sturdza. The castle had many valuable collections of books (over 60,000 pieces) and documents of the time, paintings, jewelry, medieval costumes, weapons, etc. Most of them were burnt by Russian soldiers.
12. Karolyi Castle, A 15th Century Piece That Looks As New (Castelul Karolyi)
Located in Carei, Satu Mare County. The castle is named after an old noble family, the Károlyi family. Their first known residence here dates back to the end of the 15th century. It survived over the medieval era to several attacks from the Ottomans and other barbarians. It is considered as one of the best castles to visit in Europe as well.
13. Fagaras Fortress, House Of Princes (Cetatea Fagaras)
Built in 1310 on the site of a former wooden fortress, Fagaras (Brasov County) was enlarged between the 15th-17th centuries. It was considered one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania. It also functioned as a residence for various princes and their families, such as Gabriel Bethlen (1613-1629) and Georg Rákóczi (1630-1649).
14. The Black Church, Heart Of Brasov (Biserica Neagra)
The famous Black Church (Romanian: Biserica Neagra) rests in downtown Brasov, one of the largest Romanian cities (also a very touristy spot). It was built by the German community and stands as the main Gothic style monument in the country. The structure was partially destroyed during a fire set by invading Habsburg forces on April 21, 1689. Afterwards, it became known as the Black Church. Here is a great quick video about the Black Church in Brasov:
15. Rupea Citadel, Another Medieval Fortress (Cetatea Rupea)
Rupea Citadel (Romanian: Cetatea Rupea) is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania, the first signs of human settlements dating from the Paleolithic and early Neolithic. The first documentary attestation dates from 1324 when the Saxons revolted against King Charles I of Hungary took refuge inside the citadel. Located also in Brasov County.
16. Curtea de Arges Monastery: The Legend Of A Human Body Paved In The Walls (Manastirea Curtea de Arges)
The legend says that this church was ordered by Radu Negru to be built by Architect Manole. With Manole being unable to finish the walls, the prince threatened him and his helpers with death. At last Manole suggested that they should follow the ancient custom of placing a living woman into the foundations; and that she who first appeared on the following morning should be the victim. The other workers warned their families, and Manole was forced to sacrifice his own wife, called Ana. Thus the cathedral was built. When Manole and his assistants told Negru that they could always build an even greater monastery, he had them stranded on the roof so that they could not build something to match it. They fashioned wooden wings and tried to fly off the roof, but, one by one, they all fell to the ground and died. A spring of clear water, named after Manole, is said to mark the spot where he fell.
17. Iulia Hasdeu Castle, Honouring A 19-Year-Old Deceased Daughter (Castelul Iulia Hasdeu)
The Iulia Hasdeu Castle is a house built in the form of castle by historian and politician Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu in the city of Câmpina, Prahova County. Work on it began in 1893, after Hasdeu’s daughter, Iulia, died at the age of 19. The construction was finished in 1896.
18. Camarzani Monastery, Bukovina’s Creation (Manastirea Camarzani)
Located in Camarazani village, Suceava County, this monastery adds a drop of beauty to Bukovina. It was built in 1863 by Boier Emanoil Mortun.
19. Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Metropolitana Timisoara)
Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral (Romanian: Catedrala Metropolitana Timisoara) was raised between 1936 and 1941.The building’s style is Neo-Moldavian style, late Renaissance, Ottoman, and Byzantine architecture elements. Photo by Adrian Benea.
20. Alba Carolina Fortress, The Largest Citadel In Romania (Cetatea Alba)
The Alba Carolina Fortress (Romanian: Cetatea Alba) encloses between its walls several centuries old attractions laden with history, including Saint Michael’s Cathedral. Cetatea Alba is located in the city of Alba Iulia, Alba County, and is the largest citadel in Romania.
21. Barsana Monastery, Unique Architecture (Manastirea Barsana)
Barsana is one of the wooden churches in Maramures County, a beautiful synthesis of Eastern and Western European architecture, with Gothic and Byzantine elements. It was built in 1720. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
22. Neamt Citadel, A Medieval Fortress Built in the 14th Century (Cetatea Neamtului)
Neamt Citadel (Romanian: Cetatea Neamtului) is a medieval fortress located in north-eastern part of Romania, near Târgu Neamț, Neamț County. It was built in 14th century Moldavia during Petru I of Moldavia’s reign and expanded in the 15th century. The citadel played a key role in Stephen III of Moldavia’s defense system.
23. Ramet Monastery, Erected in 1214 (Manastirea Ramet)
One of the oldest monasteries in Transylvania, Ramet stands out through its shape and boldness. It was built in 1214 and is located in Alba County.
24. Ghika Palace, Baroque Style (Palatul Ghica)
Ghika Palace is situated in Comanesti, Bacau County, was built in the last decade of the nineteenth century by Dimitrie N. Ghica, under the guidance of architect Albert Galleron, in baroque style.
24. Cetatea Greavilor, An Abandoned Fortress
Cetatea Greavilor is located in Garbova, Alba County. It was built under Hungarian and German influence in the second half of the 13th century. In English, “greav” means earl, so the translation would be the Earls’ Fortress.
25. Mraconia Monastery, A Place Well Hidden (Manastirea Mraconia)
The church is located on the Danube River’s shore, in the Mededinti County, close to the border with Serbia. The place is called Cazanele Dunarii (“Danube’s Boilers”). The monastery was constructed in the late 1400’s, the exact date differing from one historian to another. “Mraconia” apparently means a place being hidden. The church is also known that during the Russian – Austro – Turkish battle (1787-1792) when it was almost destroyed.
26. Bethlen Haller: Once Castle, Now A Wine Symbol
The Bethlen – Haller Castle is situated in Cetatea de Balta, Alba County. Built between 1570 and 1580, the castle was completely redone between 1615 and 1624 by count Stefan Bethlen who based his construction on the example of Chambord castle in France. It was built in the French Gothic style, on four levels, and its purpose was recreational. It is now owned by Necşulescu family, owners of Jidvei, one of the largest Romanian winemakers. Needless to say, nowadays it is the host of many wine tastings and events related to the industry.
27. Dragomirna, Between Monastery and Fortress (Manastirea Dragomirna)
The Dragomirna Monastery was built during the first three decades of the 17th century, 15 km from Suceava, in Mitocu Dragomirnei village. It is the tallest medieval monastery in northern Moldavia.
28. Pestera Ialomitei Monastery, The Most Visited Church in Bucegi Mountains
This church is located in Moroeni, Dambovita County. It is situated in a unique place, right into the Bucegi Mountains, which makes it the most visited monastery in the area. The legend says that at times the walls of the cave turn into mysterious girls that are holding hands and dance like the wind around the church.
29. Deva Fortress, Overlooking The City (Cetatea Deva)
The fortress is located atop a volcano in the Poiana Ruscă Mountain Range within the Western Carpathian Mountains of Romania. From the foot of the hill, the city of Deva, Hunedoara County, spreads out. Deva Fortress was built in the 13th century.
30. Carta Monastery aka the Cistercian Church (Manastirea Carta)
Located in Carta, Sibiu County, this church is a former Cistercian (Benedictine) monastery in the Ţara Făgăraşului region in southern Transylvania. It is currently a Lutheran Evangelical church belonging to the local Saxon community.
31. Kendeffy Castle, Now A Hotel (Castelul Kendeffy)
Kendeffy Castle is located in Sântămăria Orlea, Hunedoara County. It was built in 1782 by the Kendeffy Family, a noble family at the time. The castle was nationalized by the Communist Party in 1982, and in 1982 went to the Hunedoara County Administration, which turned it into a hotel.
32. Chindia Tower, House Of Vlad The Impaler (Turnul Chindiei)
Chindia Tower (Romanian: Turnul Chindiei) is located in Targoviste, Dambovita County. It is the palace where Vlad Tepes (Vlad The Impaler) used to live. Built in the 15th century.
33. The Calendar Castle, aka the Ugron Palace (Castelul Ugron)
This castle is located in Zau de Campie town, Mures County, in 1911 by a baron called Istvan Ugron who was in love with a Russian princess. It was supposed to be an engagement gift, but the princess never came. The Castle is also known as the ‘Calendar Castle’ as was built based on the principles of a calendar. It has 365 windows as many days a year has, four towers as the number of the seasons, and 52 rooms as are weeks, 7 terraces as there are days in a week and 12 suites as are the months of the year.
34. Corbii de Piatra Monastery
Corbii de Piatra is a unique monastic rupestral cave, located in Arges County, close to Corbi village, 33 kilometers away from Curtea de Arges. The first official attestation was on June 23, 1512. The settlement, carved into a massive yellow sandstone wall that used to be a hermits’ shelter, still keeps on its limestone walls one of the oldest paintings in Romania. Experts say the mural paintings are executed in the purest Byzantine tradition.
35. Prejmer Peasant Citadel (Cetatea Taraneasca Prejmer)
Prejmer Peasant Fortress (Romanian: Cetatea Taraneasca Prejmer) protects the fortified monastery inside. It’s been one of the best kept fortresses in the world, being in perfect shape. It was built in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights in a Gothic style.
36. Red Castle From Heiemus (Castelul Rosu)
Built between 1864-1866 in vicinity of Bacau, the Red Castle (Romanian: Castelul Rosu) is not in use.
37. Moldovita Monastery From Bukovina (Manastirea Moldovita)
Another beauty from Bukovina, one of the painted monasteries. It is situated inVatra Moldoviței, Suceava County. The Monastery of Moldovița was built in 1532 by Petru Rareș, who was Stephen III of Moldavia’s illegitimate son.
38. Prislop Monastery, Hosting Arsenie Boca’s Miracle Grave (Manastirea Prislop)
The Prislop Monastery is a place of pilgrimage for the Christian Orthodox believers from all over Romania. Most of them wish to pay respects to the grave of priest Arsenie Boca. It is said that arguably after visiting Boca’s grave miracles happen for the pilgrims.
39. Ponor Monastery, The Athos Mountain of Romania (Manastirea Ponor)
Situated at 1,300 meters above the sea level, in Alba County, the Ponor Monastery (Romanian: Manastirea Ponor) is considered the Athos Mountain of Romania. Only men are allowed to visit.
40. Bucea Church, Green Fairy (Biserica Bucea)
The Bucea wood church is located on Gorban Hill, Cluj County, and was built in 1791 by the first seven Orthodox families in the village (now with 705 inhabitants). The event is also engraved on a beam from the entrance to the church. The church, composed of the narthex, nave and altar, is made of oak wood.
41. Cozia Monastery, Hosting Mircea The Elder’s Grave (Manastirea Cozia)
Cozia Monastery, built close to Călimănești – Valcea County today – by Mircea Cel Batran (Mircea the Elder) in 1388 and housing his tomb, is one of the most valuable monuments of national medieval art and architecture in Romania.
42. Feldioara Citadel, A Fortress Built By Teutonic Knights (Cetatea Feldioara)
Feldioara Citadel, located 21 km North of Brasov, it is also known as the Teutonic fortress and is the oldest fortification in Barsa Land. It was officially attested in 1225. It was founded by the Teutonic knights between 1211 and 1225 and transformed into a peasant citadel later on in 1457.
43. Lainici Monastery
The Lainici Monastery (Romanian: Biserica Lainici) is located 32 km away from targu Jiu, Gorj County. First mention of this monastery was in 14th century. The monastery was constructed during the reign of John Voivode between 1812 and 1817.
44. Namaiesti Monastery, Host Of A Miracle Virgin Mary Icon (Manastirea Namaiesti)
Some people claim Nămăeştii Church is the oldest convent in Romania. It is located in Campulung, Arges County. The monastery is a cave that houses an icon of the Virgin Mary that allegedly makes miracles (attributed to Luke tradition, framed in silver in 1798 and lithographed in 1871 by Major Papazogeu).
45. Saint Nicholas Church in Tulcea (Biserica Sf. Nicolae)
It was built in 1862 in Byzantine style. The Cathedral has countless valuable items inside, many of them covered in silver. This is it folks, thank you for taking the time to read my article. Feel free to drop a comment or subscribe to my newsletter here to be the first to get future articles. I am on my way to Indonesia – my last dart throw took me there, watch it here – so rest assured I will share some good information from that amazing as well.