I have recently read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Available as a free download on Kindle, it is a Victorian melodrama of the first order and surprisingly readable if you like all that sort of thing. Not my usual choice of book but to be consumed before a visit to the place where Count Dracula was supposed to have lived (in fact the book was written in Whitby, Yorkshire).
The Castle is absolutely lovely, and not remotely scary. It is very old – the Turks established a gate there in 1211 – and was given to Queen Maria (who is happily related to the British Royal family who like to pop in to visit) in 1920. She used it as a sumptuous summer residence until the Communists took it over in 1957. Narrow winding stairways lead through 60 timbered rooms, many connected by underground passages which house collections of furniture, weapons and armour dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries. If you like Arts and Crafts style you will love this castle. I have lots of pictures taken inside, but the website is very good and comprehensive.
I was most interested in Queen Maria.
She had a very artistic disposition and created some lovely little areas in her summer palace. Everywhere there are inside-out spots where one can sit and look out. It feels small and intimate with a warm, woody smell, and there were some tinkly angel bells that I naughtily rang. We liked the thick white walls and the dark timber and how she had created all these sweet little lay-bys. Imagine sitting in this recess, right at the top of the house, enjoying a log fire on a cold night, and then wandering out to the loggia for something to eat, or just to sit and watch the moon. Or maybe for vampires!
She loved the medieval style of dress popularised in the UK by William Morris, aided and abetted by a commitment to Romanian national dress. embroidery and other crafts. I previously wrote about the Romanian blouse, and in these photographs you can see some very fine versions. She enjoyed dressing her whole family in picturesque outfits. In addition she combined an interest in national dress with a fascination with gorgeous, priceless jewellery. The amazing Cartier tiara (top middle) features diamonds, pearls and sapphires.
There is a Pathe newsreel about Queen Maria, showing how she loved walking amongst “the peasants” and nibbling on their fruits.