My family and close friends (and pretty much everyone on my Facebook or Instagram , I guess) know that I have a soft spot for castles, palaces and manorial houses. I like them not necessarily for their architecture or grandeur, but for the world they remind me of. I would love to time travel and experience days that pass slower, people who know how to carry a conversation and never forget about manners.
I have found two possible ways to have a glimpse of that world: Downton Abbey or, the less dramatic option: go on a journey to discover Romania’s many castles.
This is how castlemania was born. My goal is to find, photograph and write about them: the good, the bad, the ugly and even the glorious ruins that some castles have become.
You can follow my journey live on Instagram @roaring.romania. Keep an eye for #castlemania!
Lets proceed to castle number one:
I remember seeing this castle for the first time in 2007 during a trip to Bușteni. It was closed, abandoned and it looked haunted. Eight years later my visit to Cantacuzino left me speechless. Seriously! I only managed to mumble ’Wow!’ and an occasional ‘I would've never imagined!’
Entrance Hall & the portrait of G.G. 'The Nabab' Cantacuzino
Before I get into other details about the castle itself, I need to tell you that the Cantacuzinos have been one of the hotshot families of our history. The Cantacuzino family is an old Byzantine noble family whose roots go back to the 11th century AD. The family was very influential around these parts of the world with members that became Byzantine Emperors, Voivods (warlords) in Wallachia and Moldavia or Princes in Peloponnese.
The Cantacuzino in the spotlight for our story, G.G. Cantacuzino lived in the second half of the 19th century and was an important political figure. He is better known by his nickname-Nabab, received because he was one of the richest boyars of his time. He is also said to have been a Mister Scrooge but this is debatable. He left behind a couple of castles that stand against this theory.
Canatacuzino castle in Bușteni was built in 1911 in Neo-Romanian architectural style and it was meant for the family’s summer vacations or hunting parties. Nababul wanted his castle to be a rival for the King’s Peleș Castle. If his castle won the competition- I can’t say, but in all honesty, he won the no.1 spot for best view in the country. I’m sorry other castles, but there’s no way one can beat this:
The view from Cantacuzino Castle
The interiors- depends on everyone’s tastes. They are colorful, spectacular and overly rich. Every tiny piece is sculpted, painted or decorated to fall into this swirl of opulance. I loved it all! My peaks were the mosaic floor of the entrance hall and everything about the Ballroom. The latter is hard to even begin to describe, better go and see for yourself!
Cantacuzino coat of arms and family motto that translates to 'What doesn't kill me makes me stronger'
I just can’t help but wonder what would someone with minimalist preferences think of it.
Besides being a museum that we can visit, the castle hosts venues like weddings, parties, art exhibitions and has its own restaurant Canta Cuisine.
I finished my visit at the castle with lunch at Canta Cuisine and I have to say that the restaurant is part of the same picture: elegant, fancy without being uptight and the best cheesecake I've ever eaten.
I liked the fact that smoking was not allowed but they had one of those old-school smoking rooms. Just like in the movies when men used to go after dinner to smoke their cigars and drink their cognac.
Prices are somewhat above average but kept in the decent prices range considering the location, the quality of the food and the service.
Cantacuzino castle is located in Bușteni, Prahova Valley, right off DN1 road. If you come from Bucharest turn right in front of the City Hall in Bușteni, cross the railroad and the road will take you to the castle.
You can visit the castle from Monday to Thursday from 10:00 to 18:00 and from Friday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00. Tours start every hour with the first one at 10.15 and last one at 18.15 or 19.15.
Check first their events calendar because if there is an event on the day of your planned visit you should know that the castle is closed to visitors.
I just can't have enough of this view!
Join our Roaring Romania Facebook Group! Be part of our community, get answers to your questions about travelling to Romania or share your experience with us! Bonus: free guide to Bucharest.