Most of you associate Romania with Dracula, the historical and at the same time fictional figure. And of course you cannot leave Romania without visiting Dracula’s castle – Bran.
For those who didn’t know Dracula was a real person known as Vlad Tepes (or Vlad Dracula). Vlad Tepes was the ruler of Wallachia, and is often considered one of the most important rulers in the history of Wallachia.
Vlad Tepes actually has a long and complicated story of how he became the ruler of Wallachia. Let’s just say many of his family members had to die, although not always from his hand.
After Vlad established his power, he came into conflict with Transylvanian Saxons. He penetrated Saxon villages, captured those people, took them back to Wallachia and impaled them. Bloody, right? But it’s not the end of it. Vlad Tepes also captured two Ottoman envoys and impaled them too. After that he massacred tens of thousands of Turks.
As you can guess, such people don’t die peacefully. Vlad Tepes was captured and put in prison. It is about that time when around Europe stories and anecdotes started to circulate about his cruelty. After 12 years in prison, Vlad Tepes was released and he died in battle two years later.
In 1897 popular author Bram Stoker wrote a gothic horror novel called “Dracula”. His character , the Count Dracula, was a brutal vampire and evidently was inspired by Vlad Tepes.
And of course, this story has become quite popular around the world. Since then we have seen many movies about this cruel figure and his monstrosity. Stories about the vampire Dracula have become classics.
Bran castle has become a very famous tourist location due to its association with Count Dracula. Nowadays, this is one of the first places tourists want to see in Romania.
Bran castle is located in the middle of Romania, in the region of Transylvania, 25 km southwest of Brasov city.
There are a few ways to get to castle Bran. You can get there by public transportation to Brasov and from there it will be easier to get to the castle itself. There are also two more convenient ways: buy a guided tour, or rent a car.
There are actually a lot of guided bus tours from Bucharest to Bran castle. Such tours are around $50.
Another way is simply to drive yourself. You can rent a car and go explore Transilvania altogether. I must mention that the nature in that part of Romania is breathtaking. On the way to Bran Castle we actually stopped like 100 times to take pictures of mountains and forests.
On the way to Castle Bran you will have to walk through a small market, where you can get yourself souvenirs, and some traditional homemade food like brynza, sausages, honey and other things.
To get inside the castle, you will have to buy a ticket. The adult ticket costs 45 RON ($10).
And now let’s finally talk about the castle itself. Bran castle is located on a steep hill, so if you are visiting it in winter, be careful as it is a slippery road.
In the castle you will find many small rooms with quite simple interiors. One thing that I really liked is the ability to go to many small outside terraces and see the view from different angles.
To me Castle Bran was some kind of a maze made of rooms, staircases, and terraces. I would probably never figure out what room is where.
The expositions that are displayed in the castle talk mostly about the history of the region and the country. Of course there is also information about Vlad Tepes, and even a few rooms with “halloween decorations” (for kids).
Before exiting the castle you will go to the inside courtyard from where you can visit a souvenir shop.
Since we were on our own without a tour guide, we actually didn’t spend that much time in Bran Castle, around half an hour.
So there is no real reason why Bran Castle is called Dracula’s castle. Perhaps because the castle looks quite dramatic and suits the story about a dark figure like Count Dracula.