Face to face with the frightening vampire in Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle TRansylvania

Bran Castle or Dracula’s Castle (how foreigners call it) is a main tourist attraction in Romania. I remember when I was in school, we had field trips here.

Somehow we (I’m talking about Romanians) don’t feel this great connection with the legend of Dracula. I mean, a foreigner wrote this story, and somehow it got connected to Transylvania.
And now my foreign friends ask me about it and I have no idea what to say about it.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle TRansylvania
I am not even sure what the story is about because what we’ve learnt in history class is really different and boring. Sorry, Dracula fans!

Where is Dracula’s Castle?

In Transylvania, Romania. (Yes, a part of Romania is called Transylvania.)
The Bran Castle is located less than 30 km from Brasov and being built on a cliff, at a key strategic point.
Bran Castle Dracula's Castle TRansylvania

Address

General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Brasov, Romania

Opening hours

01 May – 30 September
Monday: 12:00 to 18:00
Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 – 18:00
Last entry: 18:00October 1st – April 30th
Monday: 12:00 to 16:00
Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 – 16:00
Last entry: 16:00
Admission fee
Adults                                    35 lei
Seniors 65+                          25 lei
Students (Student card)   20 lei
School children                     7 lei

How was the castle build?

At the beginning of the 13th century, a wooden fort was built by the Teutonic Order began building a wooden fort. This first castle was destroyed by the Mongols in 1242.
Being placed on a steep hilltop, this military fortress protected a main route between Transylvania and Wallachia.
In 1377, Sigismund of Hungary began to build a stone castle. This was also the moment the nearby area started to develop.
In 1498, the Bran settlement fell into the jurisdiction of Brasov.
Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania
Of course, the Castle underwent many modifications over time (e.g. addition of east and southern towers, titled roof).
In 1920, Bran fortress was turned into a royal residence, owned by the Romanian Queen Maria. The most important restoration works were made during 1920 and 1929.

What can you see inside Dracula’s Castle?

When I say castle, I’m talking about the building, but also the surrounding park (Royal Park) with 2 lakes, the Tea House, the Administrator’s House and the Princess Ileana’s House.

The actual Castle is a four-story museum, where a collection of furniture, suits, arms and armour are exhibited. But nothing too impressive.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania

But the architecture will make you stop every 2 minutes to take pictures. Especially when you get to the balcony from the inner yard.

Fun fact

Just before finishing the tour, you get in the small inner yard, where is a small well, where you can toss a coin and make a wish.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania

 

Who does the Dracula’s Castle belong to?

Not too long ago, in 2000, the castle was claimed by the Habsburg Archduke Dominic and his sisters, Maria Magdalena Holzhausen and Elisabeth Sandhofer.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle TRansylvania

Because they are the heirs of Princess Ileana, from whom the castle was taken by the communist regime. Yey! They become the owners of the Dracula’s Castle in May 2006.

When I was inside the Castle I realised it looks quite empty, and most rooms have nothing more than a drawer. Or a table. That was weird.

Well, apparently before the restitution, the Ministry of Culture relocated the collections exhibited inside (belonging to the Romanian State) to the Medieval Customs (Vama Medievală). Ok, so they left it empty. Now it makes sense.

The new owners, the Habsburg family had to bring objects from their personal collection, in order to reopen the museum, which happened on 1st of June, 2009.

 

The legend of Count Dracula

Now, the main reason this place is full of tourist is that of the legend tied to this Castle. The most known legend of Transylvania is without any doubt that of Dracula or Vlad Ţepeş. (It’s the same person)

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania

I guess nobody knows the truth, but all this mystery is what attracts tourists.

In 1897, the Irish writer Bram Stoker, published in the UK a fiction novel “Dracula”, which created the myth of Count Dracula.

The existence of this character is based on the popular beliefs about the existence of forces of evil, such as vampires or the undead.

Since then, Dracula and Transylvania, the realm of this mysterious castle full of ghosts and vampires became the subject of over 750 films, documentaries or short stories inspired by the Irish writer’s novel.
One legend says that the transformation of Vlad Tepes into Dracula’s Count of Blood is due to the fact that, according to the custom at that time, the winner of a fight would drink the blood of the defeated. There are many more legends about the vampire.
Is this the truth about Dracula? Could be. I tend to believe that a lot of blood was involved.

 

The history behind the legend of Dracula

Vlad Ţepeş, the Ruler of Wallachia, was associated with Dracula, although the historical data does not confirm his long presence at Bran Castle.

Vlad Ţepeş was born in Sighisoara, in Transylvania in 1431. He was the second son of Vlad Dracul, who was a knight in the Order of the Dragon, a chivalrous order in Eastern Europe aimed at stopping the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

He was called Vlad II, or DraculA. His father was called Vlad Dracul (Vlad the devil) and by adding an “A” at the end of the word, it’s a way to know DraculA – the son of Dracul.

It’s the Romanian language, no worries. But the thing is by adding that”a”, another word is formed, DRACULA.

The nickname “Ţepeş” (Impaler) was attributed to him only after his death in 1476, because of his preferred way of punishment.

Vlad Ţepeş had a cruel way of execution: the victim was being stabbed in a sharp, thick pole.

As a child, Vlad Ţepeş lived as a hostage to the Turks. While his family was assassinated, he was made aware of the torment they endured. This seems to be the reason for his harsh punishments as a ruler.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania

Vlad Ţepeş was known for punishments like cutting, skinning, hanging, decapitating or impaling.

Thus, it is a long way from there to the present idea of Dracula, the area is promoted through the images of a vampire, feeding on the blood of the enemies.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania Juliasomething

What do Romanians recollect of the famous Vlad Ţepeş?

For us, the Romanians, Vlad Ţepeş is known as the ruler during which you could drink water from the fountain of the Targoviste Fortress with a large golden goblet.

Yes, without anyone stealing it (historical sources confirm the existence of this cup which was used until the day Vlad Tepes died).

That was because everyone was afraid of his harsh punishments. But I think that’s far away from the legend of Dracula.

Vlad Ţepeş was probably killed on the battlefield, fight the Turks. Nobody knows for sure what happened with his body.

The Turks were so proud of their accomplishment, they cut his head off and took it to Istanbul, as a proof of the end of his reign.

Bran Castle Dracula's Castle Transylvania Romania

So, did Dracula existed?

Yes, we can say that Dracula existed.

Is Vlad Ţepeş the devilish vampire? It remains a question for the fans. But it is certain that the myth of vampires has gained ground in the face of history.

 


Dracula's Castle in TRansylvania, Romania.

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