Named for being located in the town of the same name, Bran Castle is an example of how a good promotion can be the most significant for a tourist place, let’s review the facts:
- Count Dracula, neither vampire, nor simple human, did not exist. It is a literary figure created in 1897 by the English writer Bram Stoker, protagonist of the horror novel with vampiric dyes of the same name. The detail that the writer was called Bram (which was actually diminutive of Abraham) and the castle is called Bran is mere coincidence.
- But it is true that Stoker was inspired to create the character in the historical figure of Vlad Draculea (hence the name of the character), aka Vlad III Tepes, which in Romanian literally means “the Impaler”. He was a ruler, but he was not count. His father had the nickname “Dracul”, which in ancient Romanian meant “the Dragon” for belonging to the Order of the Dragon, an order of Catholic nobles and knights formed by the King of Hungary in 1408. “Draculea” meant “son of the dragon”.
- But the word “dracul” has changed meaning over the centuries, and when Stoker wrote his novel, it no longer meant dragon, but devil; thus he got even more reasons to demonize the dude. That is not that he was not exactly a saint: his nickname “The Impaler” came from his habit of impaling captured enemy soldiers and leaving them in the woods for months as a warning to new attackers, sometimes thousands of them, since their territory was in continuous struggle with the Ottoman Empire, and the Hungarians themselves who were once their father’s allies sometimes represented a threat. Although his extreme brutality is widely documented, in many areas he was considered a hero, since his methods proved to be the only effective ones in intimidating much larger armies, who on more than one occasion fled dead in fear of such a deployment of barbarism without presenting battle.
- The thing is that this so choleric boy did not live in Bran Castle, but in Poenari Castle, which is also in Transylvania, about 80 km southwest (125 km by road) from the previous one. But Poenari Castle has been half in ruins for centuries, especially since an earthquake in 1888, and Stoker had no inspiration to recreate the home of his sinister character in that desolate place. Then, one day, a lithograph of Charles Boner came to him where Bran Castle appeared, and he said to himself “this one, this is going to be Dracula’s Castle”.
- And in this way, a little casual, Bran’s Castle won the lottery.
Erected on a former 13th-century fortress on a rocky promontory, in 1377 the current castle was built to serve as a defense on the border between the former regions of Transylvania and Wallachia. Perhaps because of its imposing appearance, the reality is that it fulfilled its defensive function well since throughout the centuries it was hardly besieged or attacked.
It is considered a national monument of Romania and is one of the main tourist attractions in the country for its fictitious connection with the novel of the also fictional Count Dracula. Its owners are the heirs to the throne of Romania, since the monarchy was abolished in this country in 1946, after embracing communism.
SHCEDULES AND PRICES
- From April 1 to September 30 from 9 am (12 pm on Mondays) to 6 pm.
- From October 1 to March 31 from 9 am (12 pm on Mondays) to 4 pm.
Adult ticket: 40 lei. Discounts for retirees, children and students. The audio guide costs 10 lei. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket offices or on their official website.
Before arriving at the castle we will pass through souvenir stands. Once in the enclosure, it is surrounded by a garden that allows you to photograph it from different angles. Seen from the base, the building is formidable and fearsome at the same time.
The interior, organized around a central courtyard, is anything but sinister. There are exhibitions about Vlad Tepes and the Romanian royal family.
There is a restaurant on the premises. Special events are held during Halloween, which are said to be really funny.
HOW TO GET TO DRACULA’S CASTLE
- Bran Castle is in the small town of the same name, at its southern end, 185 km by road north of Bucharest, 50 km northwest of Sinaia (where Peles Castle is located) and 30 km southwest of Brasov, city to whose district it belongs. It should not be difficult to find parking.
- Bran is a town of just over 5,000 inhabitants. It has no train station, but being such an important tourist attraction, there are buses and maxitaxis from Brasov every 30 – 60 minutes from 7 am to 10:30 pm approximately, it takes 50 minutes and costs 7 to 10 lei. Some continue on the southwest route. You cannot arrive directly from other major cities by public transport without going through Brasov. There are several companies, but the one with more services is Transbus Codreanu.
WHERE TO EAT AND STAY
Given the popularity of the castle, there is a wide range of tourist accommodation and restaurants in the village.