Count Dracula’s Castle. Bran, Romania
BY JULIE SEYLER
No one plans a trip to Romania without making a visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Bran. Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel which inspired Bela Lugosi’s 1931 portrayal of the blood sucking Count and Klaus Kinski’s taloned apparition of Nosferatu the Vampyre in Werner Herzog’s 1979 version guarantees that Bran Castle will always draw the tourist trade. But sight-seer beware!
Looking up at Bran Castle
Dracula’s home, a conglomeration of medieval fortress and rambling 17th century castle stocked with the emblems of the landed gentry which became the abode of Romanian royalty in the early 20th century, is a bit of a disappointment despite the dramatic views of Transylvania available from every window.
View of Transylvania landscape from inside Bran Castle.
The key is to approach the Castle for its sense of historical significance, knowing that its foundations date back to 1382 when it was built on a citadel as a defense against the Ottomans. Then, as you wander through the maze of rooms taking in the bear rugs, the exquisite details of the hand carved armoires and the displays of armor worn to ward off weapons, you see it holistically as footnote in the history of Romania, not simply as a movie set.
Bear rug. Bran Castle
Carved wooden cabinet.
The room-by-room traipse is carefully orchestrated so that you and your fellow tourists can take in the 700 year history of the castle in an orderly manner as you are guided up to the Dracula section. Here you learn the story of the man behind the legend in words and pictures. Bram Stoker, a writer from Ireland, weaved remnants of Eastern European folklore, romance and fangs into an original horror tale based on Vlad Tepes, a 15th century nobleman renowned for the number of people he murdered. He used Bran Castle as a fortress haven.
The association between Count Dracula, the vampire imagined by Bram Stoker and the original chracter-Vlad Tepes- Dracula -Prince of Wallachia (1448, 1456-62; 1476), who spent his childhood in Transylvania, is due to the prince’s bloody avenger nature. The Wallachian volvode got this popular surname “Tepes”, (the impaler) because of his cruel habit to apply the capital sentence by impaling , and he inherited his second surname , ‘Dracula’ (meaning the Devil’s son in Slavonic language) , from his father Vlad Dracul
After all this, you emerge into the gift shop selling magnets of Vlad and the outdoor tourist stalls selling the standby tchochkalas of Romania. The perfect finale to a sight-seeing excursion.
Tourist stall. Bran.