Retro: Bran, Romania

Dracula never lived here.

Okay, technically Dracula never lived anywhere, being made up and all.  Vlad the Impaler, though?  He may have, though it wasn’t by choice.   Some records show he may have been locked up here for a couple of months before being moved to a different castle.

Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, had never visited Romania.  He described Dracula’s castle as   “…on the very edge of a terrific precipice . . . with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm [with] silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.”
Bran Castle is the only castle in Romania that accurately matches that description, and it was depicted in a book about Transylvania that may have provided a model.  
Still, he never stated that Bran was the inspiration, or the Vlad had anything to do with Dracula.  In fact, Stoker actually tried to distance Dracula from Vlad in the book, and the inspiration for Dracula may be closer to local evil spirits than it was to Vlad.  However, link made, and Bran Castle is now Dracula’s Castle, which makes it Vlad’s Castle by default.  

So, all that being said, it is a pretty freaking beautiful castle.

Originally a fortress built in 1211, construction on the castle proper began in 1377 and finished 11 years later.  It served as a trading post, administrative seat, military defense against the Ottomans, and it was the favourite residence of Queen Marie, the last Queen consort of Romania.  She was responsible for most of the restoration that happened at the castle, and much of the art and furniture in the castle is linked to her.  Aside from a room detailing the Dracula legend and the link to local stregoi, her decorating style definitely doesn’t sync with a bloodthirsty prince, and i think the Romanians should be commended for not trying to make the inside a house of horrors.

They saved that for the parking lot.

The one thing that sets Bran apart from other Romanian sites is, for sure, the tourist traffic.  Even though Brasov, Sighisoara and the like received some obvious foot traffic, this was the first times felt liked was actually at a “tourist trap.”  Lots of castle replicas, Dracula merch, books, and general selling of wares.  Not shocking, as this is Romania’s big attraction.  The views are beautiful, the castle gorgeous and the exhibits inside are interesting, and they would still be without the Dracula “link”.  Asking if it would be as big a deal without the connection is a moot point, as the majority of Romania’s tourist trade revolves around Vlad’s history, which is made more interesting by the Dracula connection.

You’re not discovering anything new by coming here.  It’s still worthwhile if you want to check it off your personal “list.”

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