Are you planning a visit to Dracula’s Castle in Romania?
Bran Castle or Dracula’s Castle (how foreigners call it) is one of the main tourist attractions 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.
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 (Bran Castle)?
Bran Castle or Dracula’s castle is in Transylvania, Romania. (Yes, a part of Romania is called Transylvania.)
The Bran Castle is located less than 30 km from Brasov and was built on a cliff, at a key strategic point.
Bran Castle’s (Dracula’s Castle) Address
General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Brasov, Romania
Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) Opening hours
May 1st – September 30th
Monday: 12:00 to 18:00
Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 – 18:00
Last entry: 18:00
October 1st – April 30th
Monday: 12:00 to 16:00
Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 – 16:00
Last entry: 16:00
Dracula’s Castle Admission fee
Adults 35 lei
Seniors 65+ 25 lei
Students (student card) 20 lei
School children 7 lei
How was Dracula’s 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 the 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.
Of course, the Castle underwent many modifications over time (e.g. addition of east and southern towers, tiled roof).
In 1920, Bran fortress was turned into a royal residence, owned by the Romanian Queen Maria. The most important restoration works were made between 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 Dracula’s Castle is a four-story museum, where a collection of furniture, suits, arms and armour are exhibited. But nothing too impressive.
But the architecture will make you stop every 2 minutes to take pictures and stare at it. Especially when you get to the balcony from the inner yard.
Fun fact about Bran castle
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.
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.
Because they are the heirs of Princess Ileana, from whom the castle was taken by the communist regime. They become the owners of Dracula’s Castle in May 2006.
When I was visiting Dracula’s 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 Dracula’s castle museum, which happened on the 1st of June, 2009.
The legend of Count Dracula and Dracula’s Castle
Now, the main reason this place is full of tourists 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)
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 belief about the existence of forces of evil, such as vampires or the undead.
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.
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.
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 proof of the end of his reign.
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.
So, did Dracula actually 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.
Where to stay near Dracula’s Castle?
There are many hotels and guesthouses in Bran. It all comes down to your budget.
For a nice and cosy stay, on a budget, I recommend Pensiunea M&M (1 double room is about 30 Eur per night.)
If your budget allows a bit of extra pampering, and you are looking for an insta-worthy accommodation, then I suggest checking out Zara Chalet.