Bran Castle, or better known as Dracula’s Castle is probably Romania’s top touristic attraction. The castle started to bring attention after Bram Stoker – the famous Irish writer – linked Bran Castle to count Dracula’s myth in his novel Dracula.
The Count Dracula myth is linked to a real historical character in Romania’s history: Vlad the Impaler.
Vlad the Impaler was the ruler of Walachia during the 15th century. He was known as a cruel ruler, who punished harshly those who were not obeying the law. His cognomen – the impaler – suggests his well-known practice of impaling his enemies and the criminals. Even though the historical character was quite an intriguing figure in Europe’s history after-all, it doesn’t justify its connection to Count Dracula.
Vlad the Impaler belonged to House of Draculea.
An old legend says that Draculea House’s sigil was a dragon, but back then Romanians had no knowledge of the existence of such creatures like dragons. They interpreted the sigil as a demon – which in Romanian is spelt ‘drac’. This is how the House ended up being named House of Draculea, including Vlad the Impaler.
His name and his well known dark practices to punish criminals made him an iconic character in Romania’s history. His life was so interesting that made the Irish writer Bram Stoker write his famous novel Dracula based on Vlad the Impaler myths.
There are no details about why Stoker chose Bran Castle as Count Dracula’s main residence. Although some sources say that he wanted to link the character to a totally different castle.
Even though this connection brought Bran Castle’s current popularity, Vlad the Impaler never lived there.
His main residence and the place that is considered to be the authentic Dracula’s Castle was Poenari Fortress, situated on a cliff overlooking the Arges river. Knowing this fact, the fortress has two impaled bodies, showing the anger of Vlad the Impaler for those who knowingly violated the laws. In order to reach the fortress, there are 1480 stone steps that must be climbed.
Here are some more interesting facts that you might want to know about Bran Castle:
- it currently belongs to Dominic of Hamburg (it’s a private site), but he kept the castle as a museum, open to the public;
- it was built in 5 years, under Hungarian supervision;
- at the beginning it was built as a fortress to defend the former Hungarian Empire border;
- it is best known for being Queen Mary of Romania main residence;
- during World War II the castle was a hospital.
Another tiny little thing you might wanna know is that the castle has a really small stone tunnel. You have to pass through it to go upstairs. That tiny small tunnel made me realise that I was claustrophobic and it was not a nice experience for me. So be aware of that.
There is a lot of history and mystery around Bran Castle and even though historians say that Vlad the Impaler never lived there, you might want to pay a visit to the Bran Castle. The castle itself is undeniably impressive. It is for sure more interesting during the night, so you should definitely take a night tour for a truly spooky experience. And why not get a look at an example of how a Romanian vampire’s castle might look?