Bran Castle, Dracula
Bran Castle, Romania has probably gained his fame because of the legend of Dracula, a fictional character created by Bram Stoker.
Stoker’s Dracula was a Transylvanian Count, a centuries- old vampire that inhabited a castle in the Carpathian Mountains. His book was published in England in 1897 and there were many, many movies made after this legend! I have seen a few myself and my favorites are Bram Stoker’s Dracula, ( 1992, cast: Monica Bellucci, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder) and Dracula: Prince of Darkness(1966; cast: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir).
The easiest ways to get there are by train or by car. I got there by car, driving from Bucharest to Bran (Bucharest-Poliesti-Sinaia-Bran). The distance is about 190 km and in good days it would take about 2.30-3 hours, but there is often traffic (especially in the week-ends) and it could take significantly more. The drive is beautiful as you would pass though some amazing scenery.
What is the history of Dracula? Did Dracula as is presented in the movies and stories really exist?
Romanian mythology is rich in stories about troubled spirits that rise from the dead that can transform into animals and suck the blood of their victims. In Romanian mythology these are called strigoi and here you can read more about this. In Bran Castle you can find an exhibition of spells against strigoi.
I felt chills reading this poster; I’d really like to ask Psykhe, the Greek goddess of the soul, what actually happens to the soul! But Psyke is also a myth…..
If anything that the myths say is true, you should eat a lot of garlic! Romanians eat garlic, because this is supposed to repel the strigoi and prevent them of getting close to people….haha.
Who was in fact Dracula?
If you think about Dracula as vampire count, then you’re probably a bit far from reality. Dracula, the character from Bram’s book is associated with a Walachian Prince, also known as Vlad Tepes or Vlad Dracul. He was the ruler of Walachia and his favorite method of execution was to impale his enemies. It was a slow and painful death. This is one of the reasons why Vlad was also called Dracul, which in Romanian language means “the devil”. Dracula, Bram’s character is fiction, while Vlad Dracul is the Walachian ruler that actually existed.
I read that Vlad Dracul si related with the Queen of England, or at least that’s what Prince Charles said. Really!!!!
“”The link, it appears, is his great-grandmother, Mary of Teck, who was grandmother to Britain’s current ruler, Queen Elizabeth II, and was queen during the reign of King George V. A Wurttemberg princess, Mary – the woman for whom the liner Queen Mary was named – was believed descended from two of Vlad’s sons””CBS News, October 28,2011” Vlad the Impaler: How is Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth related to him?”
The Castle is at the top of a steep hill, looks like is coming out of the mountain stone! I wonder how they built it like that….
The entrance door has an exquisite door knob; I’m imagining people pounding the door in old times, to get the door open : )
The castle was a royal residence for Queen Marie, also known as Marie of Edinburgh. She was the wife of King Ferdinand 1. Their daughter Ileana ran a hospital here in World War II.
The rooms are not gigantic, not like in Buckingham palace, but they’re large and with beautiful sculpted furniture.
There are also displays of armor and posters that explain different parts of the history of the castle.
Queen Mary ordered the building of a tunnel, through which she could go down to the garden undisturbed. The tunnel remained forgotten after the royal family was forced to leave in 1948. In recent days the tunnel has been renovated and you will get down to it through a specially designed elevator(the elevator is built into a former water shaft that was built more than 600 years ago, in 1377!!). The ride is 31 meters down and during this time the elevator displays special media shows; there are some hologram vampires that are creating the feeling that you’re going down to the underworld. It’s an interesting experience!
At the bottom there is a horizontal gallery and as you move through it you are part of an interactive media exhibition that explains parts of the history of Transylvania and the royal family.
The garden and the restaurant
Casa de Ceai is a cute little restaurant in the Castle’s garden. They have fresh , tasty food!
For Halloween they have a party. The party costs few hundred euro but you can go for free if:
”You don’t have a reflection in the mirror,
You decompose when sun light strikes you,
You’re over 200 years old,
Can use your wings to fly to Transylvania”
At least that’s what one of the organizers, Dracula Tours say . Try to see if you qualify for free…..haha.
Bran Castle is the most visited attraction in Romania. If you go you would enjoy not only the castle but also the mysterious and beautiful land of Transylvania. But that’s another story…….one I will write about another day….
In the meantime, let me know if you’re planning to visit Bran Castle and if you have any travel related questions.
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