Bran Castle and Dracula, a local’s perspective

In my opinion, Bran Castle is one of the must see places in Romania. It is a lovely castle, well maintained, located in a simply gorgeous mountain area (no exaggerations here, you’ll see). And, apart from the impressive history, the castle also became the origin of Dracula. But how much is the truth, and how much is a „lie” in what Bran Castle is concerned? Is it truly Dracula’s Castle? Was Vlad Tepes (A Wallachian Prince, also known as Vlad The Impaler) Dracula? I’ll give you today the complete story, hoping this will shed some light on the matter and will make you visit these places even more.

Bran fortress
Bran Castle

photo source

How it all started for me

Well, as a Romanian, I learned about Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) in school, at the history hours. I won’t get into many details – Romania’s history is a very troubled one, along the years many powers didn’t let us be a single state and so on and so forth.

What may be interesting information for you, is the fact that Vlad The Impaler used some perhaps “cruel” ways while he ruled – impaling was the supreme punishment for those who did not obey the rules. Please keep in mind this… bloody habit (you’ll see below why).

I was not able to visit Bran Castle until later in my life. I didn’t had a car in the family and was not able to travel to Bran while growing up. I visited the castle in my twenties, with my husband.

The Bran Castle

I visited Bran Castle two times. In between my visits there were some major changes in what the owner is concerned. You’d say that this is not important, but I beg to differ. It’s important because the interior was somewhat changed: the furniture, and even some rooms.

10 years ago there was no connection to Dracula and the Teutonic Knights at the castle. Now, there are some connections – special rooms (detailed below).

History of the fortress

The history of Bran Castle starts in 1211. Back then the The Teutonic Knights received that part of the area, Țara Bârsei (“Terra Borza” or “Burzenland”) (the purpose was for them to establish in the area and to defend the Southeastern border of Transylvania from the Cumans and the Pechenegs.)

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In 1377 King Louis I of Anjou orders the construction of the fortress, which enters in the possesion of Sigismunf of Luxemburg in 1395-1946. After that, a Romanian ruler, Mircea the Old manages to gain the fortress. Numerous fights with the Otomans follow, and the fortress plays a strategic role.

The connection to Vlad Tepes is not really that big.

To make the long (hi)story short, at some point Bran fortress entered the possession of the city of Brasov, and then of the Romanian state.

In 1920 the citizens of Brasov agreed to offer the castle to Queen Maria of Romania and soon the castle became one of her preferred residences (she restored and arrange it). Then it was again in the possession of the Romanian state.

Now, officially, on June 1st, 2009, the Castle fully re-entered the possession of its legal heirs, Archduke Dominic, Archduchess Maria Magdalena and Archduchess Elisabeth.

The castle can be visited, as you all know.

The complete history of the castle can be found here. 

Bram Stoker, Dracula and the Bran Castle

First of all, I have to tell you that Bram Stoker never visited Romania. Or so the official site says, although along the years I heard the he was in fact in Transylvania and saw the castle.

But you know what? Many of the writers whose masterpieces we all read didn’t travel to the cities or countries they mentioned. Jules Verne wrote his books using maps. Bram Stoker imagined Dracula’s Castle in Romania, in Transylvania. So, it’s not a problem if he, in fact, didn’t visit Romania.

But, as a Romanian, I must admit I am proud that one of the loveliest castles in the country is famous worldwide. Not only that, but many people heard about Romania for the first time from this book. Yes, some looked it up after that, some didn’t, but the name was out there. And all in one of the most famous vampire books ever!

So, fiction is fiction, reality is reality. And sometimes a place can blend fiction with reality. And that’s just perfect in my opinion.

The castle definitely deserves to be visited for how it looks! Keep in mind that it is restored – from the gardens to the interior, all is in a very good shape.

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Let’s see the castle.

When you get to Bran, you’ll notice the castle immediately. You’ll have to climb a little – a street, not stairs, and not difficult. Keep in mind that, at its origin, this was a fortress with a defense role.

Road to Bran Castle
Road to Bran Castle

There are several stairs at the entrance – again, not many. And then you are in 🙂

You can choose a guided tour, or wander around by yourself. Of course, I recommend a guided tour to find out more about the castle and its history.

Bran Castle - audioguide
Bran Castle – audioguide

Inside you’ll see various rooms with objects from that period – a bedroom, a library, etc.

You’ll also see a room dedicated to the Teutonic knights – some armors are exhibited.

There’s also a room – more of a hallway – dedicated to Bram Stoker, Dracula and Vlad Tepes. The fiction, the reality. There are some interesting information provided also on our local supernatural beings –similar to vampires – strigoi. Information about these beings is included on the official websites as well.

Bran Castle - salon
Bran Castle – salon
Bran Castle - salon
Bran Castle – salon
Bran Castle - library
Bran Castle – library
Bran Castle - display
Bran Castle – display
Bran Castle - The Teutonic Knights
Bran Castle – The Teutonic Knights
Bran Castle - Bram Stoker explanations
Bran Castle – Bram Stoker explanations
Bran Castle - Vampires story
Bran Castle – Vampires story

And, one of the main attractions, there is a secret and very narrow interior staircase

A secret and very narrow staircase at Bran Castle
A secret and very narrow staircase at Bran Castle
Bran Castle - secret staircase - explanation
Bran Castle – secret staircase – explanation
Bran Castle - a statue at the entrance
Bran Castle – a statue at the entrance

The view toward the interior garden – with the fountain, balconies, a statue dedicated of Virgin Mary – is quite impressive!

Bran Castle - view of the interior garden
Bran Castle – view of the interior garden
Bran Castle - view of the interior garden - another side
Bran Castle – view of the interior garden – another side
Bran Castle - Statue of The Virgin Mary
Bran Castle – Statue

 

Bran Castle - Statue of The Virgin Mary
Bran Castle – Statue detail
Bran Castle - fountain
Bran Castle – fountain
Bran Castle - fountain - money inside
Bran Castle – fountain – money inside

As a side note, there is no belief that throwing money in this fountain will bring you luck. But it seems that following Fontana di Trevi, everywhere people see a fountain, they through some money – just in case.

The garden is also beautiful – as you’ll definitely see it!

Unfortunately it was raining the last time we were at Bran so we were unable to use the camera outside – but I do have some pictures taken with my smartphone.

Bran Castle - garden
Bran Castle – garden
Bran Castle - garden
Bran Castle – garden
Bran Castle - garden
Bran Castle – garden

What you’ll find just outside the castle – souvenirs and the Horror House

I told you that in the area the locals combined the Dracula fiction with the local true history. So, you’ll find various shops with numerous items – some traditional Romanian items, some imported. You’ll also notice a Horror House – yes, many Dracula themed items here, various souvenirs and more.

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Bran Castle - souvenirs shop
Bran Castle – souvenirs shop
Bran Castle - souvenirs shop
Bran Castle – souvenirs shop

As a conclusion

It’s important to know what to expect

I wrote this long article so that you could know what to expect. I don’t want you to go to Bran Castle, expect ONLY Dracula related stuff and be disappointed. I want you to know that there is more to Bran Castle and its history. That the fortress goes back a long time, played a strategic role in the area for centuries; that the castle is lovely – recently restored.

I also want you to know that, even if there is no direct connection between Vlad The Impaler and Dracula in reality, Dracula was inspired, in a way, by the Wallachian Prince. Yes, the connection between the castle and Tepes is indeed small, but you know, except for historical books, fiction is fiction and that involves imagination! But Bran is the castle that Bram Stoker imaged as residency for Dracula, the famous vampire.

And yes, this vampire is one that made history – look at the movies or TV series that are still inspired by Dracula.

Again. History is history and fiction is fiction. The two mix perfectly at Bran.

I think that, in order to truly enjoy your experience at the Bran Castle, you have to embrace both of these elements. You have to know that it is an ancient, beautiful fortress, and that the Dracula part is fiction. You will find both sides there. Remember that.

One thing is sure though: you’ll love the castle. It truly is wonderful so take your time wondering the rooms, the balconies, admiring the view, the architectural details, all of it.

A visit to the Bran Castle is perfect – we went there in the middle of the week (less crowded). We visited during a rainy day. And it was still a wonderful visit, one that each member of my family enjoyed yes, including our three years old son!

Bran Castle, Romania - a local's perspective. The history, Dracula's legend and photos :) #Dracula #vampire #castle #Europe #travel #Romania

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Lori

I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

19 thoughts on “Bran Castle and Dracula, a local’s perspective

  • 31 October, 2015 at 15:20
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    Oh my God! Romania is on my list, and this makes me even more excited! Bran Castle! See you soon!

    Reply
    • 31 October, 2015 at 20:47
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      There are many wonderful places in Romania! I wish you a lovely visit!

      Reply
  • 31 October, 2015 at 17:41
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    This is such an amazing place and a very mysterious place. I would love to go visit it some day. It looks beautiful and you have expressed in a way we all want to go there.

    Reply
    • 31 October, 2015 at 20:48
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      Yes, it’s a complex issue – with the historic truth and the fiction – and I wanted to show it all – and yes, this is a not to miss in Romania 🙂

      Reply
  • 31 October, 2015 at 21:26
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    This would be really fun to visit. Especially this time of year!

    Reply
  • 1 November, 2015 at 00:00
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    I think Vla the Impaler is one interesting character in History and I would love to learn more about him. Of course, we all know him as Count Dracula… but we still know so little.

    Reply
    • 1 November, 2015 at 01:28
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      Vlad The Impaler is indeed an important figure in our history. From many points of view – it was hard for me to cut the information included in the article. He is believed to be the inspiration for Dracula – but, like I said, fiction and history have, sometimes, a nice way to blend. In the end, we can all learn a lot = I too discover each day interesting things from other countries. If you’ll ever be in Romania, you could definitely visit this castle:)

      Reply
  • 1 November, 2015 at 05:29
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    i don’t plan to visit romania anytime soon, but this place is like calling out to me! the staircase looks a little spooky though.

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  • 1 November, 2015 at 06:37
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    This is a very interesting historic place. I love old and has history places and structures

    Reply
  • 1 November, 2015 at 07:40
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    Wow such a wonderful place, wish you could show us more about your country because its very far for me to go. Hope that one day I can make it to those places.

    Reply
  • 1 November, 2015 at 08:32
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    I love how the place has both mystery and history in it. It is a nice place and would definitely be worth the visit.

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  • 1 November, 2015 at 15:04
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    I agree, whether it’s fact or fiction, it’s definitely a beautiful site to see! Thank you for sharing these information. It was nice to know a few insider knowledge about the castle. Reading this kind of tickled my constant curiosity and this makes me want to learn more about Romanian history! Also, I would love love love to visit Romania!

    Reply
  • 1 November, 2015 at 16:18
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    Thanks for the virtual tour of the castle and the very interesting info. But I guess, seeing it personally is another thing. Romania has great sites to offer their guests.

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  • 2 November, 2015 at 01:58
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    Bran Castle looks awfully spooky to me, I don’t think I’d last through a tour haha. But I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of Dracula, I watched a lot of vampire movies and tv shows back in the day, not anymore though. The castle looks eerie and mysterious in the pictures, I prefer to just look at it through the images haha.

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  • 2 November, 2015 at 11:13
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    These are some beautiful photos of the castle! I am a scardy cat and generally avoid all horror stories… maybe because the story of Dracula is so well known, i can so imagine all those horrific and twisted romantic scenes in those pictures!

    Romania is a country I’d love to visit one day.

    Reply
  • 2 November, 2015 at 11:25
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    It’s both spooky because of the dracula mythos and beautiful. It’s nice to see the story and history of the place more than the myth. This would be among the castle I’d love to see in Romania.

    Reply
  • 2 November, 2015 at 11:28
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    Great post. I wan’t to visit this sometime. Boy! I wanna go to so many places I don’t have budget. haha better save then plan my days ahead for traveling. 🙂

    Reply
  • 2 November, 2015 at 11:42
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    Thanks for sharing. Such a beautiful place. Wish I could visit here one day.

    Reply
  • 3 November, 2015 at 00:25
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    Such a scary place. I really don’t like exploring creepy places. T_T It sucks but I just can’t handle the pressure once inside.

    Reply

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