Bearing the nickname of Dracula’s Castle, no other landmark in the country of Romania has received as much attention as Bran Castle. The connection with Dracula is tenuous at best, with there being no confirmation of Vlad Tepes having ever come to the location. This has not stopped Romanian tourism agencies from attaching the Dracula moniker on the castle and building up the country’s most famous tourist destination. While it may not technically be related to Dracula, the truth is that Bran Castle does warrant a visit for other reasons.
The history of Bran Castle goes back to the year 1212 when knights of the Teutonic Order constructed a castle of wood. However, Mongol hordes completely destroyed the castle only thirty years later. Understanding the need for a stronger structure, it was eventually rebuild more than a century later using stone. Although it was in operation for many centuries, the most important era of the Bran Castle is relatively recent. In the early twentieth century it became a royal home for Queen Marie and was later given to Princess Ileana, the Queen’s daughter. When the royal family was kicked out of the country by the communist government in 1948, Bran Castle was seized as public property. After a lengthy property dispute, it returned to Habsburg Empire hands and became the first private museum in Romania.
For better or worse, Bran Castle has gone through a complete renovation, both outside and inside. The former manages to maintain a medieval appearance and the looming sight of the castle on the hill is a sight to behold. On the other hand, the interior received a much different restoration. Walls and fixtures were remade using plaster, which changes the overall feel of the building and takes away from the medieval atmosphere. However, a large part of Bran Castle is open to visitation and a person can see many interesting artifacts accumulated through the previous royal residence and even earlier times. Where the castle shines is as its role as a model of how medieval castles were typically shaped with interior courtyards, towers, and plenty of hidden nooks. Fans of kitsch should be sure to check out the souvenir market that exists directly outside the castle. Complete with not-so-cheap Dracula-related items, a visitor can find some good bargains on local cheeses and tuica, the national drink of Romania.
The best way to get to Bran Castle is to take a bus from the Codreanu bus station in Brasov. These buses leave very frequently and visitors will have no problems getting to and from the landmark. Because seeing the sight will not take more than a few hours, some visitors may wish to combine it with a trip to Peles Castle and Rasnov Citadel all on the same day. While there are private tourism companies that offer such a trip, one of the more value-priced options is to contact the Kismet Dao hostel . They offer exactly this type of private tour with or without a guide for around 80 lei (less than 20 Euros) per person.