Bran. If you have ever been to Romania, you must have heard about this place… Or maybe you have even been there. With its more than half a million visitors every year, Bran’s castle – also known as Dracula’s castle – is one of Romania’s most popular touristic destinations. But did Vlad the Impaler really live here?
Bran is located in Transylvania, in the Carpathians, not far from Brasov, another illustrious city, which we will explore in another post.
Bran would have been really picturesque if it were not for all the publicity for its castle in hotels, hostels, bars, restaurants, bars, shops, etc. This town is all about Vlad the Impaler/Dracula and unfortunately, you pay for it. If you are looking for a nice and cheap place to stay and to eat, better go to nearby Brasov! Another piece of advice: don’t visit Bran and its castle in summer, when most of the tourists come. We were there in May 2015 and could visit everything at ease.
Let’s have a look at history. First, the Teutons built a wooden fortress on a steep cliff in Bran in the 13th century and more than 100 years later, the Hungarian king Louis the Great granted the people of Brasov the privilege of constructing a castle at the same location.
The construction of the castle was complete in 1388.
Is there a link between this castle and Vlad the Impaler? Indeed, there is! This is what the official website of Bran’s castle has to say about it…
Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes) was allied with Bran and Brasov during his first reign (1448) and through the start of his next reign, after the Princes of Transylvania requested that he handle the anti-Ottoman resistance at the border. During his second reign (1456 – 1462), however, his army passed through Bran in early 1459 to attack Brasov, in order to settle a conflict between the Wallachia Voivode and the Saxons, who requested higher customs taxes and supported his opponent for the throne. Vlad the Impaler burned the city’s suburbs and murdered hundreds of Saxons from Transylvania, provoking the Saxon community to seek revenge by later mentioning in reports that the Voivode were a tyrant and extremely ruthless.
However, in the fall of 1462, after the army of the Hungarian king, Matei Corvin, captured Vlad Tepes nearby the fortress of Podul Dambovitei, near Rucar, it appears that Vlad was taken to Bran Castle and locked up there for two months.
It’s hard to deny historical facts. So, we can be very sure that Vlad the Impaler spent at least some time here. Historians, however, are quite certain that another building is more entitled to the moniker of Dracula’s castle, but more about that in our next post!
Then there is another question that deserves an answer. Is there a link between Bran’s castle and Dracula, the work of fiction? What you need to know about the author, Bram Stoker, is that he never visited Romania… When it comes to Dracula, he was inspired by historical works (again, more about this in another post). And when it comes to the castle, he might indeed have been influenced by accounts of travelers. Literarian historians, however, point out that the description of Dracula’s castle comes very close to some British castles as well.
Finally: is Bran’s castle worth a visit? Yes, and there are two reasons. First, there is an undeniable link between the castle and Vlad Tepes and maybe even the fictional character of Dracula. And, last but not least, this is indeed a very beautiful and well-restored place. Again, avoid this in summer, because of the crowds. Check out the official website for more information.
By the way, the lockdown in Spain will now last until 11 April. Not the news we had been hoping for, but it doesn’t come as a surprise. We still have a lot of travel stories to tell, however! And…Stay Safe! Stay at home!