Bran Castle or Dracula's Castle – Transylvania, Romania
Our visit to Bran Castle today takes us 230 km north-west of Bucharest. Approximately half-way along the journey, we stopped at Sinaia, an alpine resort town, nestled beneath the Transylvanian Alps. Sinaia takes its name from the 17th-century monastery built by a Romanian nobleman after he undertook a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai in Egypt. Nicknamed The Carpathian Pearl, it was best known for being the summer residence of the Romanian Royal family.
We didn’t have much time or information about Sinaia and spent our hour here walking up and down the main street, checking out the buildings and stately old homes alond the roadside. Although old, they looked quite grand and obviously must have been inhabited by nobility in the past. We walked up the slope to the cable car station and were tempted to take a ride up the hill. Given the huge interval between scheduled trips going up, we thought it was unsafe as there was no information of the returns trips. We certainly didn’t want to miss our trip to Bran castle.
From Sinaia, some people took off by train to explore Brasov, whereas the majority of us went in search of Dracula.
Bran Castle, a fortified medieval castle which is often referred to as Dracula’s Castle, was built in 1377 for strategic and economic reasons. With the expansion of the Ottoman empire, it was vital to protect nearby Brasov from invaders. One of the most important access ways connecting Transylvania to Wallachia, crossed this area and Bran Castle also served as a customs station. The boyars (the nobility) had the right to collect fees from visitors and peasants. The fortress had an extra income from: selling cheese, milk and muttons and from manufacturing wood. Today the Castle is still collecting fees, being entrance fees from tourists like us. We also had to pay 10 leis each to take snaps in the Castle.
The castle’s rooms and towers surround an inner courtyard. Some rooms are connected through underground passages to the inner court. The spiral stairways are quite narrow and you’d wonder how it was possible for Dracula, to sweep around the corridors or down the staircase at any speed.
In 1920, the people of Brasov who owned the castle offered it as a gift to Queen Marie of Romania, and the castle soon became her favorite residence. She often visited the castle with her favourite daughter Iliana.
Bran is home to a rich collection of Romanian and foreign furniture and art items from the 14th-19th Centuries. The castle sits high atop a 200 ft. tall rock overlooking the picturesque village of Bran. On the grounds below there is an open-air ethnographic museum of old village buildings with exhibits of furniture, household objects and costumes. They’re not very well maintain, however, if you’ve survived Dracula and have time to spare, it’s nice to just walk around the grounds.