Bran, also known as Dracula's Castle, is Romania’s national monument and most visited landmark.
Located between the regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, some 30 km from the city of Brasov, Bran castle is perched high atop a 200-foot-high rock overlooking the village of Bran. It was built between 1377 and 1388 with the labor and funds of the local people of the city of Brasov.
Surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend, Bran Castle owes its fame to its history, imposing towers, and the myth created around Bram Stocker's fictitious character Dracula. (Bram Stocker - an Irish author; 1847 - 1912 )
It's widely believed that Vlad III Dracula, known by the nickname Vlad the Impaler ( or Vlad Tsepesh ) has served as an inspiration for Stoker’s character, Count Dracula.
Born around 1430, Vlad III was a Wallachian Prince who led several campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. His father was a member of the Order of the Dragon, and probably the nickname Dracula came from there. He also liked to torture people and would impale his enemies on the battlefield. This gives his other nickname Vlad the Impaler.
Since Bran Castle is the only castle in Transylvania that fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle, it has gained the fame of being Dracula’s Castle.
The Castle became even more popular in 1992 after the release of Bram Stoker's Dracula horror film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola.
However, Bran Castle was not home of Vlad III. It is believed that he might have never been at that place. The real residence of Vlad III Dracula is the castle Poenari, in the county of Arges, Romania. This castle was built in the 13th century and had been hit by earthquakes several times and it was half-destroyed and eventually abandoned. Today it looks like fortress ruins, However, the place is open to tourists and more than 1400 steps were built in order to climb up the citadel (castle).
Currently, Bran castle is open as a museum largely devoted to Queen Marie, the British wife of King Ferdinand I of Romania.
From 1920 to 1948 Bran served as royal residence, a gift of the people of Brasov to Queen Marie of Romania, as a sign of devotion to the Romanian crown.
The Queen restored and transformed the fortress into one of her favorite residences along with her seashore castle in Balchik ( Bulgaria ). Visitors can see on display a large collection of art and furniture collected by Queen Marie.
Narrow winding stairways lead through some 60 timbered rooms, many connected by underground passages, which house collections of furniture, weapons and armor dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries. In the courtyard of the castle there is a well, at the bottom of which, according to legend, there is an entrance to a maze of underground rooms.
Visitors can also explore the medieval torture instruments exhibition and the time tunnel, which is accessed by an elevator. During the ride you will enjoy an interesting multimedia show.
In 1948, the communist government of Romania confiscated the Castle and it became state property. In 2006, the Castle was handed over to Archduke Dominic von Habsburg, son of Princess Ileana and grandson of Queen Marie.
The Castle is set in a lush green park with a beautiful pond. In front of it, there is an area for buying gifts and souvenirs, as well as several restaurants and a parking lot.
Photos of Bran (Dracula) Castle: