Bran Castle, the home of Count Dracula

Count Dracula – the myth

Dracula, a Transylvanian Count with a castle placed on a rock high above a valley with a rushing river below in the Principality of Transylvania, is a character created by Bram Stoker.

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This character is frequently mistaken with Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), also known as Vlad Dracul, a Walachian Prince who owned a fortress in the Principality of Wallachia that is now in ruins. Bran Castle is recognized around the world as Dracula’s Castle because it is the only castle in all of Transylvania that matches Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle.

dracula myth
Photo by John Barnard on Pexels.com

Count Dracula, a fictional figure created by Bram Stoker, first featured in the novel “Dracula,” published in England in 1897. But, far from being a terrible name, “Dracula” comes from the Crusader Order of the Dragon, with which both Vlad Tepes and his father were associated. The rest of the Dracula mythology is based on legends and popular beliefs about ghosts and vampires that were common in Transylvania.

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There is a belief in the existence of malevolent spirits known as ghosts or “steregoi” (a variation of “strigoi”) among the villages near Bran. Until half a century ago, it was thought that some living individuals – “strigoi” – existed who lived a normal existence during the day but whose spirits abandoned their bodies at night and haunted the hamlet, tormenting people as they slept. These nefarious spirits stalk their victims from midnight till the first cockcrow, when their ability to hurt people fades. “The undead [ghosts, vampires] suffer from the curse of immortality,” Stoker writes, “they pass from one period to the next, multiplying their victims, augmenting the evil in the world…” These local myths inspired the Dracula character.

Why is Dracula associated with Transylvania?

Vlad Tepes, the ruler of Walachia, does, in fact, have a connection to Bran Castle. Vlad participated in several campaigns to punish the German merchants of Brasov who disobeyed his orders regarding their trade in his Walachian markets. The route to Wallachia took them through Bran, the nearest gorge to Brasov that connects with Targoviste, Vlad Tepes’ capital. The original customs houses, where taxes were collected from merchants entering Transylvania, can still be found at the foot of Bran Castle.

Relationships with the Bran lords were strained because they represented the Citadel of Brasov, which was hostile to Vlad the Impaler. It is unknown whether Vlad Tepes captured Bran Castle. It is not described in written documents. The documents pertaining to Bran Castle that do exist in archives are primarily administrative in nature, referring to the income and expenditure of the domain of the Bran Fortress, with little mention of political and military events.

Visitors to Bran Castle should distinguish between Bran’s historic reality and the character of the Count in Bram Stoker’s novel. Dracula exists only in one’s imagination.

Bran Castle’s Historical Timeline

Every historical episode is defined by certain factors that serve as constants, such as time and space. These elements define its position in the evolution of the human community.

The region between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului has sparked a series of historical episodes, dating back to prehistoric times and continuing to the present day, all because of one major geographical and historical factor: the Bran Gorge.

The Bran Gorge, one of the most important trans-Carpathian routes, has a colorful history. Its history has been defined by two major elements: the trade routes of its crossroads and the recurring military invasions that took advantage of them.

The Bran Gorge, a natural amphitheater guarded from the east by the Bucegi Mountains and from the west by the Piatra Craiului Massive, provided a wide panorama both to Burzenland (ara Bârsei) and to the hills and valley of Moeciu due to its concave space.

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Bran Castle’s child, the time tunnel

The Time Tunnel, Bran Castle’s child, was born today from the bowels of the magnificent structure. The journey was long and began nearly 641 years ago, in 1377. A traditional well was dug into the stone while the fortress was being built. Then, centuries later, in 1930, when Queen Marie of Romania became the owner, she and architect Karel Liman decided to convert the well’s shaft into an electric elevator.

As a result, the horizontal gallery was dug to connect it to the Royal Park at the foot of the castle. The two galleries were forgotten and engulfed by darkness and silence soon after the Royal Family left in 1948.

Seventy years later, a multidisciplinary team shaped a piece of rock that has survived the ages, witnessing historical events at the crossroads of countries and nations. Almost 6 years passed between the conception of the idea and the launch of the site in the spring of 2017. It all started with geotechnical and geomorphic studies and surveys, topographic excavations of the entire existing route, rock technical expertise, historical research, and marketing studies. These, together with the idea of what should become in the end, have resulted in the theme that we are introducing today.

Due to the geometry of both the tunnel and the dome being entirely asymmetrical and the execution’s difficulty being extremely high, the unique construction, 100 percent Romanian, was completed underground, under unusual conditions, in a historical monument, with special technologies. Twelve miners displaced 330 cubic meters of various rocks in order to increase the section of the shaft and horizontal tunnel. 29,000 hours of labor were required, with a total excavation volume of 1,900 cubic meters (equivalent to 100 trucks) and 420 cubic meters of concrete cast (100 concrete mixers).

What is the best way to get to Bran Castle?

The Bran Castle is located at the entrance to the Rucăr-Bran tunnel, on the route that connects Braşov and Câmpulung, and is surrounded by the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains. When traveling from Braşov to Bran, take National Route 73, which departs from Braşov’s west end and passes via the Bartolomeu neighborhood. Bucharest is less than 200 kilometers away.

Bran-Moeciu is one of the most popular touristic regions in Brasov County, and the ideal destination to spend a fantastic weekend or your holidays, thanks to its magnificent landscape and charming people.

Because it is flanked by the spectacular silhouettes of the massifs Bucegi and Piatra Craiului, two of the most prominent features in Romanian highland touristic scenery, one may argue that nature has been kind with this place. This region’s landscape is a lovely blend of several landforms (high mountains, plateaus, the curvy shapes carved by the rivers along their banks and the valleys that cross the land, shaped by the rich hydrographic network).

For accommodation at the best prices and conditions in Bran-Moeciu, near to Bran Castle, check here!

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