Where is Dracula’s Castle? It’s Bran Castle, Romania
Is Dracula’s castle in the heart of Transylvania the spookiest castle in the world? Is it where immortal souls with fangs originate from? The short answer is no. It’s neither. In fact when I was there is was very pleasant with some music and local dancing taking place in the central courtyard to lighten the mood and take my mind off the cold. It is a great place to visit and very well kept but these days the myths of vampires have taken over from the facts to impaling your enemies heads! For me though that just makes it more interesting to visit so you can decide what you want to believe and imagine yourself. With Bran Castle set high on an imposing rock and surrounded by leafless trees there is no doubt that the reality very much plays into the myth of blood thirsty humans. Bran Castle in Transylvania isn’t exactly on the beaten path but if in Romania then deviate from it to see this castle straight out of folklore.
Time to Do: About 2hrs including everything although getting there may take longer.
Where is Dracula’s Castle? It’s Bran Castle, Romania – The history
So did somebody just make all these immortal vampires and Dracula up is that what you’re saying? Well kinda. Stories of people coming back from the dead have been around forever and it was no different in Transylvania back in the day. Then along came Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes) in the 15th century who was a good king by all accounts and kept the Ottoman Empire at bay. His fatal flaw was that he ruled by fear and slaughtered enemies and ‘impaled’ their heads. Although liked in Romania stories of cruelty were circulated in Western Europe of him ‘roasting children’ and the like. He was of the house of Dracul like his father which meant dragon in old Romanian but devil in new Romanian. See where I’m going here? So skipping a few hundred years along came an Irish author called Bram Stoker and made up Dracula based loosely on Vlad who had only heard the stories and never actually visited Romania. He did the Transylvanian tourist industry wonders!
Where is Dracula’s Castle? It’s Bran Castle, Romania – What is in the castle?
Bran castle is situated right in the heart of the small town of Bran about 30km south of the beautiful city of Brasov or 2.5hrs north of the capital Bucharest. Contrary to what I thought it is not actually on a hill or in the mountains but is actually just on a rock outcrop beside a hill which give the castle its imposing look. The spires and towers also add to its hauntiness. Bran Castle has a spooky little garden in front of it or at least it was spooky looking when I was there although I’m sure in the summer it would be much nicer although all the trees would hamper your view.
So what is the castle like inside? Full or torture chambers and dungeons? Nope. Although it doesn’t look that big on the outside there is quite a bit to the castle with several the floors and plenty of narrow staircases inside but all leading to bedrooms, drawings rooms, sitting rooms etc. Not what you would expect from killers but maybe they were just keeping up appearances. It was all very pleasant and we were even treated to some local music in the central courtyard from which most of the floors look onto. To make up for the pleasantness they have a torture museum onsite with approximately 50 different instruments of torture used over the years. It’s amazing what humans do to each other. From simple ones where you are just chained in an awkward position to more gruesome ones of being sawed down the middle while upside down or being poked/cut/chopped in ‘sensitive’ places. Anywaym, back to the castle and that is about it. There are some but not many well written information boards about Vlad Dracul, Dracula, Bram Stoker and the history of the castle but the whole walk around takes about 2hrs at most and that is presuming there is dancing when you are there.
If in the vicinity then it is definitely worth seeing or if you have a day to spare from Bucharest. Brasov only 30min away is a nice town and worth one night there if you can spare it. Considering it only takes about 1.5hrs to see everything it is fairly far to go but with all that fame and gruesomeness at least you can then picture the castle correctly when reading the book.
Practicalities – Where is Dracula’s Castle? It’s Bran Castle, Romania
€1 = 4.5 RON (Romanian New Lev), US$1 = 3.6 RON
How to get there: Bran Castle is about 3hrs (110 miles) drive from Bucharest following signs for Brasov and then Rasnov. It is 20 miles south of Brasov. Either way you go there are mountains. The countryside is generally flat and the road is a dual carriageway and not a motorway but halfway between Bucharest and Brasov you must go up and then back down the mountains. Drivers a generally safe in Romania and the cars small but there seem to be 10% of people (generally in more powerful SUV’s) that drive like madmen and cut in and out of traffic.
How much does it cost: It costs 25 ROM (Lev) entrance fee and the torture museum is another 10 ROM if you want to visit. There are discounts for students, seniors and children.
Visiting Hours: It is open all year round each day of the week. The closing hours change from 6pm to 4pm going from summer to winter. For more info visit www.bran-castle.com