Thanks to Bram Stoker ,for more than a century Vlad III Dracula has been the most famous vampire in the world. Both Castle Bran and Count Dracula were made famous by the irish writer today being the most visited touristic attraction in Romania.
Romania has more 200 castles, palaces and fortresses, 126 of them are in Transylvania alone..
Tours at the Bran Castle are running as every day of the week starting with 9am except Mondays when, due to the castle's schedule/opening time, the tour starts at 12pm .
Tour Schedule :
Tuesday – Sunday : 9am,10am,11am,12pm,1pm,2pm,3pm
|Minimum Participants Per Group||Maximum Participants Per Group||Full Ticket||Reduced Ticket||Free Ticket|
*Full Ticket +18 years price.
*Reduced Ticket +18 -0 years price.
*Free Ticket -6 years price.
Castle Bran is a medieval fortress built in 1377 by the Hungarian king Ludovic I D’Anjou helped by the Saxon and Hungarian nobles from Brasov ( a medieval town 20 miles north-east from the castle). With the 14th century technology and thousands of slaves (iobagi) the Hungarian king finished the work 5 years later , in 1382.
It was crucial for that time to have a solid military fortress in south-eastern border of the Hungarian kingdom to stop the Tartar invasion first and later the Ottoman Empire , actually the name Bran comes from the Slavic word BRANA which means GATE, Bran being for century not only the gate of Transylvania but also the gate of Europe.
In time of war, because of its strategic position , was never conquered , is the reason why every single king of that time from Wallahia , Moldavia, Germany, Hungary and non the less the Turkish sultan , they all want it to have the castle under their jurisdiction.
In time of peace was even more appealing because of the money that they could’ve made from taxes. The medieval city of Brasov was the biggest market place in the south-east of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire. The fortress Bran was automatically transformed into customs, so for every merchant from outside the empire to get to Brasov to sell the merchandise it had to pass through the Bran customs. The taxes that you had to pay at the time were very high, for example:
-if you were on foot you’ll pay one gold coin ( one fiorino which was the currency at the time);
-if you were on a horse you’ll pay two gold coins ( one for you and one for the animal) ;
-if you were heading to Brasov with a wagon full with merchandise the tax will be 3% of the value etc.
So you do understand the interest of the big powers, of every individual to become the castellan ( named ones a year usually from very rich and influential familiy), and of course even a bigger interest coming from east right from Constantinopolis.
The structure that can be visited today was restored last time in 1920 by the Queen of Romania, Maria, wife of the third king of Romania. She received the castle as a gift from the mayor of Brasov, thanking to the royal family for the dedication to the United Romania, and especially to Queen Maria whom joined as volunteer The Red Cross in Sinaia through the WW1.
The queen was helped during the restoration process by one of the most famous European architects, check by birth, Karl Liman, the same man whom worked for the king Carol I and designed Peles Castle in Sinaia, structure that remains until today one of the most beautiful royal castles in Europe, and built for the queen herself Pelisor Castle 300m( 800 feet) behind king’s residence.
Queen Maria dies in 1938 at the age of 63 and her heart is buried in a big golden box in Pelisor Castle even today. A year before she passed away she finished the will and leaves Castle Bran completely restored to her favorite daughter princess Elena, the only one from queen’s siblings to leave Europe after the WW2 when the whole family were sent in exile by the communists, she moved to the USA with her husband and the four children. Prince Anthony of Habsburg, Elena’s husband dies shortly after and the princess moves into a convent. She returns to Romania almost 40 years later, a few months after the Romanian revolution from 1989, to claim the castle. Unfortunately she dies a year after , but in 2006 Romanian government gives back the castle to the royal family and in 2009, Elena’s children, the Archduke Dominique and his sisters Maria and Elisabeth were declared the owners of the castle.
Due to the relation with Count Dracula, the castle became a Mecca for anyone who likes ghost stories, legendary vampires, werewolves etc. Every year the biggest Halloween party in Europe takes place inside a big tent built in the middle of the royal garden, the number of participants increases year after year. Last year alone (2016) were more than 10.000 people from all over the world.
But who was Dracula? Why is he called Dracula? What does the name means? Romania has hundreds of other kings and princes, why Bram Stoker had to choose exactly the Wallahian king?
Well, our hero was born in 1431 in Sighisoara , a small town in the heart of Transylvania. A few months later his father Vlad II Dracul takes the little prince on a trip to Nuremberg , Germany where he's named the youngest member of The Order of Knights of the Dragon ( a Christian order of knights started by his father Vlad II together with the german emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg and the Hungarian governor of Transylvania Iancu de Hunedoara) and Sigismund of Luxemburg called him Vlad III Dracula or Draculea as Wallahians use to call him . Despite his bad name Wallahians and not only loved him. Is said that he was a right man respected and non the less feared by his enemies ( Turkish the most ) in his kingdom there were no thieves. He would have a golden chalice by the fountains all across the land so anyone can drink from it, saying that in front of God and in from of him everybody’s equal. The trespassers were punished, tortured and impaled.
Looking at Bram Stoker’s book there are only two true facts on his regard: 1) his real name Dracula, and 2) his nickname The Impaler. The nickname was given to him by the Saxon and Hungarian Nobils from Brasov after he conquered the medieval town in 1458.
For more stories about the Wallahian king , local vampire legends, about the Romanian royal families, the integration of the Habsburgs ( swiss royal family) in the Romanian life style , about the impact of Queen Maria of Romania the last from the Romanovs ( she was the granddaughter of the last Russian Zar Alexander III) and much much more don’t hesitate to contact us and will make sure your experience in Romania/Transylvania is one to remember.
Strada Valea Porţii 2, Bran, Brașov County 507025, Romania