Bran Castle: The Mysterious Home of Dracula? Or Just Another Fairytale?
On a clear day, you wouldn’t say that Bran Castle, nestled in the hills just outside of Braslov, Romania, is anything particularly terrifying. Perched high atop a green hill (as most castles are) you get a clear view of the surrounding mountains. The walls are fortified and pointed turrets reach into the sky to give off the impression of a sturdy fortress. However should you arrive on a cloudy day or perhaps in the evening, you might get a better feeling of where this creepy castle get’s its fearsome reputation.
Dracula was a fictional character created by Bram Stoker in 1987, but he was based on a real person – Vlad The Impaler. As you may be able to gather from his nickname, Vlad wasn’t the most benevolent of individuals and had a nasty habit of dealing with his enemies in a rather gruesome manner. His harsh methods were actually appreciated by the Romanian people as a tough but fair approach to dealing with corruption. Stoker used the legends surrounding Vlad The Impaler (well known throughout Europe and Russia) and used it as inspiration for one of the most recognizable literary characters of all time – Count Dracula.
Now that we know a bit more about Count Dracula, where does Bran Castle fit in? Well for one thing, with a strategic location atop of Bran Gorge, it become an important trading post and was known as ‘The Guard-Post Of Transylvania’. There aren’t any documents that link Vlad to Bran Castle specifically, except that he had fought a few battles close by and that he especially disliked the residents of Braslov. They weren’t particularly fond him either, and were constantly trying to unseat him from his throne which lead to some nasty conflicts. The real legends started to take shape in the 1970’s, when English speaking tourists, familiar with the novel and Count Dracula began to flock to Romania. Visitors for whom the name Transylvania conjures up an image of one thing – vampires.
Naturally curious visitors were looking for a real-life castle they could attach to the story and again, the location of Bran Castle worked to its advantage. Very easy to reach from both Bucharest and Braslov, you can find guided tours or take public transport to the mysterious castle, which is now a museum open to the public. Explore the narrow winding stairways, connected secret passageways, and an underground labyrinth which houses collections of centuries-old artifacts – and decide for yourself whether this was in fact the home of the famed Count Dracula.
For detailed info on how to get here visit the Bran Castle Official Website