Located near the towns of Bran and Bra'ov, Romania, Bran Castle is a living history museum castle associated with the legend of Bram Stoker’s iconic fictional character Dracula and displaying artifacts and furniture belonging to Romania’s Queen Marie. Bran Castle was originally erected as a fortress for ?ara Bârsei, a country established in the 12th century as a residence for the Palestinian Catholic order of the Teutonic Knights.

History

The fortress was erected in 1211 as a defensive station for Transylvania’s Southeastern border, but in 1226, it was abandoned after the Teutons were driven out of the ?ara Bârsei area. The following century, Hungarian King Louis I issued a decree that allowed for the construction of a castle at the site of the former fortress, which was to be called Bran Castle, and encouraged the Saxons of Transylvania to participate in the structure’s construction. Construction of the castle, which was situated on a cliff overlooking the cities of Magura and Dealul Cetatii, was completed in 1388, with the structure intended to serve as a customs house and fortress for the nearby community.

During the 15th century, the castle became passed hands to the Princes of Transylvania and became associated with Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler, who became known as a tyrant after his 1459 attack against the Saxons of Wallachia Voivode, in an attempt to suppress anti-Ottoman resistance in the region.Following the Ottoman conquest of Transylvania as part of the Habsburg Empire in 1541, the castle was sold to George Rackoczi under terms agreed upon with the Princes of Transylvania as part of the Leopold Diploma. Major renovations were completed on the castle in the 18th and 19th centuries, including reconstruction of its towers and donjon and restorations following damage done during the Revolution of 1848 and the Russo-Turkish War. After the castle was transferred for use in the region’s forestry industry, it fell into decay at the turn of the 20th century until the country of Transylvania was incorporated as part of Greater Romania in 1918. In 1920, the castle was deeded back to Romania’s Queen Maria, whose family utilized the property as a royal residence and retreat until 1956, when the facility was converted into a public museum.

Attractions and Tours

Though Bran Castle was legally returned to the heirs of Romania’s Princess Ileana in 2006, the facility is still operated today as a living history museum, open to the public for guided tours and public special event programming. It is best known for its association as a major inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula vampire legend, though the castle itself is only one of the historic buildings in the Transylvania region that Stoker drew on to create the legend. While Stoker’s character of Dracula the vampire is historically inspired by Vlad Tepes, the name “Dracula” is a derivation of the Transylvanian Crusader Order of the Dragon, which Tepes and his father had been members of during their lifetimes. Despite the fact that the castle has no actual historical connection to the character Dracula, it is commonly referred to as “Dracula’s Castle” for its similar location and appearance to the fictional character’s residence.

Tours of the castle are offered daily, with open visitor hours differing during the high and low tourist seasons. More than 60 rooms are showcased throughout the castle, including a number that are connected via underground passageways. The castle is furnished with period-appropriate collections of furniture, armor, and artwork dating back as far as the 14th century. The surrounding grounds and landscape showcase the scenery of the Romanian mountain countryside, which features a variety of high peaks, plateaus, river banks, and valleys.

The castle’s Tea House is also open to the public, offering light gourmet fare in a renovated historic facility with modern amenities. In addition to breakfast and lunch menus, the Tea House also serves as a venue for jazz and classical music concerts, stand-up comedy performances, culinary classes, and wine-tasting events. Special holiday menus and events are offered on Halloween, Easter, Christmas, and other major holidays. A large variety of public special event programming is offered at the castle and the Tea House throughout the year, including Jazz at Bran Castle concerts, Bran Castle’s Night Pieces theatrical performances, and family-friendly themed festivals. The castle participates in the European Night of Museums free museum event and may also be rented for private special event functions such as weddings, photoshoots, and corporate events.

Strada General Traian Mo?oiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania, Phone: +4-02-68-23-77-00

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