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Bran Castle

Close to centuries-old town of Brașov in a picturesque village named Bran there is a keep of the name, known to numerous tourists as the Dracula Castle. Truthfully, although infamous Voivode of Wallachia Vlad III the Impaler, also known as Dracula, is the symbol of this stronghold, the rich history of this magnificent keep and its unique architecture call for attention for something more than just this one individual. At present, this marvellous medieval castle serves as a museum and also houses various events, from cocktail evenings, balls, gala concerts, firework shows to other equally enthralling shows many of which are closely linked to the theme of vampires.

History of Bran Castle

The first pages in the history of Bran Castle were written in distant past of the early 13-th century, when invited by Hungarian king Andrew II, the Teutonic Knights appeared in in south-eastern Transylvania tasked with protecting the kingdom borders against invasion of combative peoples of the Pechenegs and the Cumans. The Teutonic Order received considerable judicial and commercial rights within the area of the historical territory of Burzenland, while in return, its knights, who were also relieved of taxes, started building fortifications and earthworks. Several decades later, the independence of German colonialists who also refused to recognise the authority of German bishops became a serious concern for Hungarian aristocracy and, therefore, having returned from the Fifth Crusade, king Andrew III decided to banish The Teutonic Order z Transylvanian lands. At the time when the Teutons were being banished from Hungary in 1226, not far from the town of Kronstadt (at present Brașov), in the valley of the river Turcu, there had already been a keep erected on a stone hill, a predecessor of Bran Castle.

The construction of the true stone castle did not Begin there until 1377, in line with a decree of king Louis I the Great, under which his builders were given various privileges. Among them there were many local residents of Brașov, the so-called Transylvanian Saxons – descendants of the same knights many of which became rich merchants over time. Bran Castle was built in 1388 and its advantageous location (on a tall rock overlooking nearby magnificent valleys), making it an important point of defence of the eastern border of Transylvania, which by that time were threatened by the invasion of the Ottoman Empire. Aside from protective functions, the keep also served as a customs house where taxes used to be collected on a trade route leading through the Rucăr-Bran Pass. The stronghold in Bran was most often owned by the Transylvanian Saxons designated by the Hungarian king, whereas the castle inhabitants comprised mercenaries and soldiers. (more in the History section)

What Is Worth Seeing Here?

In 2009, the new owners of the castle have re-opened museal exhibitions dedicated to the history, culture and art of the medieval era within the castle premises. Tourists can take a close look at a collection of historical weapons and armour, explore chambers with furnishings from the past eras and also admire various antiquarian collections comprising, among others, jewels of the Habsburg family. The authentic look of the castle has been preserved in its almost unchanged form since the time it was rebuilt in 1610-20, when on the order of Gábor Bethlen the Gate Tower, the Round Tower and the castle donjon were reconstructed. The castle interiors that call for most attention are king Ferdinand’s personal chambers and the music hall of his spouse queen Maria. Tourists’ attention will be also drawn to the Old Chapel and the Powder Tower.

In the internal courtyard of the castle one can see a historical well with sophisticated ornaments, the depths of which conceal a secret passage to the castle underground branched corridors, as legend has it. Upon request, each visitor can take the way up mysterious stairway in the castle to explore as much as possible the ambiance of the mysterious and dark medieval ages. Those who prefer fresh air and green lawns will undoubtedly be pleased with the castle park with ponds, alleys, and centuries-old trees. Nearby the castle an ethnographic museum is located, the premises of which hold an open-air exhibition of cottage houses typical of different regions of the country. Moreover, close to the keep there is also a vast national park of the Piatra Craiului Mountains, where walks in nature will bring much joy to every enthusiast of its beauty.

Bran Castle can be visited:

From April to September, from noon to 6:00 PM (on Mondays), and from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (from Tuesday to Sunday).