Castle Bran is located in the town of the same name among the hills of central Romania, on the border of Transylvania and Muntenia. Built originally as a defense structure, in the XX century the castle became widely known as the residence of Count Dracula. Mystical fame and the second name of the medieval fortress brought the novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and the desire of fans of the vampire saga to settle the bloodthirsty character in the most appropriate place.
Save on travel!
Video: Castle Bran
Over its more than six hundred year existence, Dracula’s castle has changed quite a few owners. At various times it was a haven for Hungarians, Saxons and Teutonic Knights. The history of the castle began when in the early XIII century residents of the town of Bran on their own forces and at their own expense erected a well fortified and impregnable fortress. The bastion was necessary to protect the road connecting Transylvania and Wallachia. In addition, the citadel served as a customs post. For the construction of such a strategically important facility the Romanian King thanked Bran by exempting him from paying taxes for several centuries. In the first half of the XIX century, when the border between Wallachia and Transylvania was moved up into the mountains, Bran lost control over the trade routes.
At the end of the century the authorities, not wanting to spend money on the restoration of the castle, gave it to local residents.
In 1920, the townspeople presented the castle as a gift to King Ferdinand I and Queen Mary, as they thanked the royals for the unification of the provinces and the development of the country. The Queen, titled Princess of Edinburgh, was the daughter of Prince Alfred of England and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Until 1927 the castle was rebuilt under the direction of the Czech architect, Liman, who radically changed its internal layout and surrounded the castle with a park, walkways, wells and terraces. The castle was connected by telephone and electricity, and an elevator was installed for the guests’ convenience. After all these changes the unpleasant building turned into a comfortable summer residence of the royal couple. Maria later left the castle as a legacy to her daughter Ileana.
In 1947, after the communists came to power, all the royal estates were nationalized, and the following year the crowned heads were expelled from the country. The castle became state property and was opened to the public in 1956, at the same time a medieval museum was founded there. For a long time the castle was not given proper care, and after 30 years it was on the verge of destruction. However, in the early 90s the castle was restored, and in 2005 Romania adopted a law on the return of property nationalized by the former communist government. In 2006, Dominic von Habsburg, son of Ileana, took possession of the castle.
The castle became known as Castle Dracula about 40 years ago, when tourists from all over the world began to seek in Romania evidence of the existence of the vampire Dracula, so realistically described by Stoker in 1897. Demand begets supply, and enterprising Romanians allowed those who wished to satisfy their penchant for mysticism. The emergence of the Prince of Darkness has given rise to a boom in tourism in Romania. Fans of the vampire gather in Transylvania every four years for their world congresses.
Currently the Castle Bran is offered for sale, its owners want to gain 140 million euros for the real estate, covered with the glory of the vampire.
Prototype of the mythical bloodsucker was a very real man – Vlad III Tsepesh, who was the ruler of Wallachia in the XIV century and became famous for his cruelty. The nickname “Dracula” Tepesh inherited from his father, who was a member of the Order of the Dragon, whose knights defended the Christian faith in Europe. Vlad II produced coins with the image of a dragon, for which he received his second name “Dracul. Adherents of this order wore black cloaks, the same way Vlad III was dressed, which added gloom to his image.
The real residence of the Prince of Wallachia was the castle of Proenari, and in Bran he only spent a few nights during his campaigns or hunting.
Tepes also had another chilling nickname – “the piercer”, which he earned by impaling his enemies as well as robbers and thieves. Vlad adopted this terrible execution from the Turks and was the first to use it in Europe. Tepes did not neglect the mockery of innocent people whom he killed just for fun. The tyrant took a particular pleasure in eating next to the bodies of the executed impaled on stakes. Once the count ordered his guards to nail to the heads of foreign ambassadors who refused to remove their hats in the presence of Tepes. At the cost of many lives the ruler of Wallachia put an end to crime, in proof of which Vlad ordered a golden chalice to be set up in the central square of the capital. The precious vessel was not guarded by anyone, but the fear of punishment for theft was so strong that the bowl remained in its place for 25 years after the death of the ruler of Wallachia. Some thought the count was crazy, and many believed that he had made a deal with the dark forces, replacing the Orthodox faith with the Catholic one.
Historians believe that Vlad III’s mental health was undermined by his brutal captivity with the Turks, where his younger brother was sexually abused and his older brother was buried alive.
During one of the palace coups, Tepes was assassinated. After his death there was a rumor among the people that the count was turned into a vampire. The reason for this was that no one reliably knew where the resting place of Vlad III was. And according to one of the legends his body even disappeared from the tomb, which is irrefutable proof of his bloodsucker essence. The real burial place of Tepes was decided to change after the start of the pilgrimage to the Bran Castle.
Now an epidemic of vampiromania is gaining momentum around the world – people are attracted to the life force of human blood, attributed to it by mystics, as well as everything mysterious and disturbing consciousness.
Dracula’s castle is crowned by four towers, two of which were built together with the fortress, and two were added later, in the 16th century, for a better view of the surroundings. The irregular geometric shape of the towers was made for the cannon balls to hit the fortress walls tangentially and not to cause them much harm. The bastion was built on a sheer cliff, the top of which was the foundation of the structure. The fortress has the form of a trapezoid with four floors connected by stairs. Grim passages with uneven stone steps and dark corridors are interwoven into an intricate maze.
Nowadays there is a museum of medieval art in the castle, which has 17 rooms. Among the exhibits are works of arts and crafts, royal clothes and dresses of the Princess of Edinburgh, silver jewelry and products, medieval armor, weapons and dining utensils. In some rooms, the furnishings remain as they were when the queen was here.
The Bran Castle houses: the music salon; the living rooms; the royal apartments; the armory; several bedchambers, among which the most interesting is the bedroom of Vlad Dracula; the dining room of King Ferdinand; the Saxon Hall; the library. Impatient people are not advised to enter the torture room, where it is easy to imagine the torture of victims crucified on terrible devices.
In the middle of the courtyard is a well. Legend has it that it leads to a mysterious dungeon. The castle has a lot of secret underground passages and mazes, which can be used to enter or leave the building unnoticed.
In the castle environs you can walk along the paths of the Palace Park, admire a small picturesque lake, look into the tea house of Queen Mary and the house of Princess Ileana.
In 1992, director Francis Ford Coppola restored Romania’s most famous architectural landmark for the filming of “Dracula”. The fortress turned out to be the perfect setting for the bloody tale.
To give the area a dramatic atmosphere, benches in nearby bars and cafes were stylized as coffins. In many places you can be photographed with cardboard Dracula, and local vendors offer tourists as souvenirs vampire masks, bottles of “blood”, false jaws with creepy fangs.
With or without Dracula, Bran Castle is a splendid example of medieval architecture, worth a visit to see the colorful antique setting and touch the history of picturesque and mysterious Transylvania.
The Bran Castle welcomes visitors every day, but its opening hours differ depending on the season. From April 1 to September 30 and during the Easter vacations the Castle Dracula is open from 09.00 to 18.00. Opening hours from October 1 to March 31: 09.00 to 16.00. On Mondays at any time of the year the castle is available from 12.00.
Entrance fees: 7.8 € for adults; 5.6 € for people over 65; 4.5 € for students; 1.5 € for pupils. Tourists can take photos and videos for free.
In summer, usually in the first days of August, near the castle, the festival “At Dracula’s” takes place, during which you can listen to folk music, buy themed souvenirs and red wine “Dracula”, take pictures in the national Romanian costume.
At the local market, don’t forget to buy the excellent local sheep and cow cheeses, the recipe of which has been handed down from generation to generation. In addition, tourists take away from here plum moonshine and original knitwear.
How to get there: take a train from Bucharest to Brasov (188 km), then take a bus, which leaves for Bran every half an hour. Be careful – get off not on station Bran, but go further till the castle. Travel time – 30 minutes.
Bran Castle – Romanian landmark and residence of Count Dracula
Bran Castle – a Romanian sightseeing attraction. The citadel stands on a rock in the heart of Transylvania mountains. The towers of the fortress beckon, thanks to the myth of the demonic, cruel count who dwells in these places.
The Bran Castle – the most ancient structure in Romania, located near Bucharest in the town of Bran of the same name and 30 km from Brasov. The castle is situated on the top of a steep cliff, which became its foundation.
The economic and strategic significance of the castle
The castle was built at the end of the 14th century by the locals, at their own expense, for which they were exempted from paying taxes to the state treasury. The fortress was built to guard the road between Wallachia and Transylvania – regions of Romania. The main trade routes passed here, and the territory needed protection from the onslaught of Pechenegs and Turks.
From the rock on which stands the castle, it is clear to see the border. Living in the citadel, the soldiers of the garrison repulsed attacks of the Turks. The structure was used as a revenue-generating customs post. Passing merchants paid a tax of 3% of the value of goods. In XIX century the castle lost this role.
Architectural features of the Bran Castle
Bran Castle – a four-storey fortress, built of huge boulders and stones. Floors are connected with each other by stairs. Very strong walls and small windows. In the castle there are 17 rooms located at different levels. The eerie passages with uneven stone steps, creaky wooden stairs and dark corridors weave into an intricate maze.
The castle has many secluded, fenced from all sides courtyards, secret rooms, from which you can leave the castle, remaining unnoticed. The main thing is not to get lost among the many intricate passages. In the courtyard there is a fountain and a well, which leads to the citadel’s dungeon.
New owners and transformations
Voivodes, gentlemen, and common people lived in the castle. In 1920, the residents of Brasov, as a token of their love and devotion, presented the castle to Queen Maria. Since that year, the castle has been the private property of the royal family.
The unpleasant structure turned into a cozy residence of the queen. The new owners surrounded the castle with a park with ponds, decorated the alleys, wells and terraces, built a tea house. Conducted electricity, installed telephone lines and elevators.
Nowadays the castle belongs to a descendant of the Romanian kings, the grandson of Queen Maria, Dominik Habsburg. Bran Castle is a monument of medieval art in Romania and the most expensive real estate in the country worth 140 million dollars.
Castle Bran – the residence of Count Dracula, myths and reality
In the XX century the castle was called the residence of Count Dracula. Mystical glory and the second name of the fortress was brought by the novel of the same name by Irish writer Bram Stoker, published in 1897. After the phenomenal success of the book, the unusual name was firmly attached to the medieval citadel.
The prototype of the main character
The protagonist of the novel is an aristocratic vampire, the bloodthirsty Count Dracula. He drank the blood of humans and for this purpose daily killed pure girls, other blood the vampire could not consume.
Count Vampire had a real prototype – the lord Vlad Tepes, the ruler of Wallachia, the region in Romania. Dracula was a lifetime nickname passed down to him from his father (his lineage came from the Order of the Red Dragon). He had a personal seal depicting a dragon. In Romanian the word “dracul” means “dragon.
Vlad Tepes fought against the Ottoman Empire, and when he was victorious, he ruthlessly dealt with those who went against him. Both enemies and subjects of the ruler treated cruelly. Unstable since childhood, he killed people for fun, calling himself a dragon.
The locals were deathly afraid of their lord. He loved to brutalize, burning people alive in a locked room. Once he ordered the guards to nail the hats of foreign ambassadors to their heads if they did not remove their hats in time to see Tepesh. The main pleasure of the tyrant was bathing in the bathtub with the blood of the executed people and eating beside their bodies.
The cruel ruler died on the battlefield, but people believe that after his death he turned into a demon. The body of Vlad Tepes has disappeared from the tomb, the locals claim that the ominous ghost of the bloodsucker walks over the land.
Illusion and Legend of the Count
Truth and fiction are so intertwined with each other that it is impossible to separate one from the other. Tepes did not live in the castle, he stopped for a while to solve commercial and military problems, but the author of the novel described this structure as a place of residence of the vampire count. The illusion gave rise to the legend, which has become enriched with details.
After Stoker’s novel was published, adventurers, archaeologists, and explorers flocked to Transylvania. Fans of stories about vampires came to the conclusion that the Castle of Bran – the home of the literary vampire, and called it the castle of Dracula. Thus embodied the desire of fans to settle the bloodthirsty Count in a suitable place.
In 1987 the castle became a museum of medieval art. Here tourists are shown a music salon, drawing rooms, royal apartments. Armory, bedchambers, bedroom of Vlad Dracula attract the attention of visitors. The dining room, library, powder tower, secret staircase, and torture chamber are all preserved in their original form.
Among the exhibits are royal clothing, silver jewelry and products, medieval armor and weapons. Dining utensils, a lot of beautiful furniture, ceramics and icons were lovingly collected by Queen Maria.
Every year Bran Castle is visited by 650 thousand people to touch the history of the mysterious Transylvania.