Dracula’s Castle – Diving into history & legends

Situated in the immediate vicinity of Brasov, in a truly exceptional natural place, facing the flatlands and backed by mountains, Bran Castle, also known as the home of Dracula, was ranked among the ten most beautiful medieval castles in the world.

Built by Saxons from Brasov, in 1382, to defend the Bran pass against Turks, Bran Castle is a spectacular setting, with a unique architecture and surrounded by magic and mystery. Many legends are linked with Bran Castle, which draws always crowds of tourists from far and wide, coming here in the footsteps of the ghosts and evil spirits, but also to experience the history. Dracula, the legendary vampire created by Bram Stoker in his novel from 1897, has inspired countless horror movies, television shows and other bloodcurdling tales of vampires. Bram Stoker’s character is a Transylvanian Count with a castle located high above a valley perched on a rock with a flowing river below in the Principality of Transylvania. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women. The rest of the Dracula myth derives from the legends and popular beliefs in ghosts and vampires prevalent throughout Transylvania.

In the villages near Bran, until half a century ago, it was believed that there existed certain evil spirits called “strigoi”– these ghostly beings leave their corporeal bodies when darkness falls and roam the surrounding valleys searching for sleeping villagers to terrify. Though Dracula is a purely fictional creation, without any historic significance, he has some tangential associations with the reality: Vlad III, Prince of Vallachia from 1456-1462 and 1476, known as “the impaler” (cognomen suggesting his practice of impaling his enemies at the gates of the castle to prove his power and to warn the future attackers of his harshness). The Bran Castle may have housed Vlad Tepes for a short period, as the area was occupied by the Ottoman Empire at the time. For sure, Dracula’s legend will go on, Vlad the Impaler will remain one of the most important figures of his time, and the Bran Castle will always capture the imagination of travellers from around the world. From 1920, Queen Maria lived in the Bran castle. She restored and arranged it to be used as a residence of the royal family. The castle was inherited by her daughter Princess Ileana, who ran a hospital there in World War II: it was later seized by the communist regime with the expulsion of the royal family in 1948. The castle is now a museum open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie.

Surrounded by dense, dark, ancient forests and mountain passes, with the structure of the medieval times, certainly beautiful, with its power to make you understand the charming mix between myth and history , it’s no doubt that the Gothic fortress offers to its tourists an eternal gift: the spirit that makes us love Bran Castle.