Officially known as Bran Castle and located just outside the Romanian city of Brasov, the castle which is also known by tourists as Dracula Castle is a national landmark in Romania.
The visitor will be greated by a medieval castle perched atop a steep cliff between the hills of Măgura and Dealul Cetăţii, with an exceptional view over the nearby hills.
More than 600,000 tourists flock to the castle every year hoping to meet the ghost of Dracula the Vampir, a myth made popular by Irish author Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”.
It was the lore and legends of Transylvania that allowed Stoker to piece together his tale, bringing together a mix of myth and some infamous characters throughout Romanian history, and while the book and movies on Count Dracula are fiction, there’s some truth to the tale. In the villages near Bran, there is a belief in the existence of evil spirits called ghosts or “steregoi”, which had some similarities to Stocker’s vampires.
Bran Castle was first mentioned in documents as early as 1377 as built by the Saxons of Kronstadt but in truth, a fortress existed here and was initially built by the Teutonic Knights in 1212 to guard the mountain passing – a building destroyed by the Mongols in 1242.
In 1407 the Castle was given as fief (“property given in return for loyalty”) by Sigismund of Luxembourg to his ally, Prince Mircea the Elder of Wallachia to serve as escape in case the turks would attack, but due to political instability was taken back after Mircea’s passing.
On December 1st 1920, the citizens of Brasov unanimously decided to offer the castle to Queen Mary of Romania, who had managed to win their hearts. From 1920 until 1932, the Castle became a royal summer residence for Romania’s kings, but was seized by the communists after WWII to be legally returned to the heirs only in 2006.
So despite popular belief, Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) although he occasionally passed through the area, had little to nothing to do with the castle. As ruler of Walachia, he was indeed involved in several military campaigns meant to punish the German / Saxon merchants of Brasov who were failing to follow his orders and were requesting high customs taxes but that was pretty much all of it.
But because Bran Castle is the only castle in whole Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Count Dracula’s Castle, it is today known across the world as Dracula’s Castle.
Renovated and included in most Romanian Touristic Routes, the Bran Castle is one important Romanian landmark and surely worth visiting.