Bran Castle, in downtown Transylvania, is the castle the majority of the world connects to Dracula. The link is a strange one though as there is no record of Vlad the Impaler (the real life Dracula – who you can read about in my post here) having ever visited the castle, and Bram Stoker, the author of the novel Dracula, never even made it to Romania, let alone Bran Castle. The structure he describes in his text, what’s more, is nothing like that of the photo below.
Why, then, is Bran Castle linked to that most famous of vampires?
The origins of Bran Castle
In 1377 CE King Louis I of Hungary, who ruled these parts (along with the Kingdoms of Hungary, Croatia, and Poland) permitted a band of Transylvanian Saxons (the Saxons being Germans that migrated to Romania in the 12th Century) to build a castle at Bran.
The castle was not a royal residence, but rather a strategic defensive structure for the German colonists who were working to strengthen their foothold in the region.
It wasn’t until 1920, at the end of WWI, when Hungary was forced to hand over Transylvania to the Kingdom of Romania, that the castle at last housed a royal family.
Bran Castle became the home of Queen Marie (of British royal stock, formerly Marie of Edinburgh) and subsequently of her daughter, Princess Ileana (who was a great-grand daughter of Queen Victoria and Tsar Alexander II).
They didn’t get to enjoy the castle for long though; the king and queen were forced into exile in 1948 when the communists took control of the nation. The assets of the royal family, including Bran Castle, were seized by the government of the newly formed Socialist Republic of Romania.
In modern times the castle hosts a fairly modest museum.
What’s the connection between Bran Castle and Dracula?
There isn’t any.
The first time the two were linked was during an advertising campaign in the 1970s. Some bright spark in the tourist bureau thought holidaymakers might enjoy the idea of visiting Dracula’s castle.
They were right.
Why did the tourist bureau choose Bran Castle as the basis for their campaign?
Because it looks the part.
And by looking the part, it has come to be so.
Practical information and how to reach Bran Castle:
There are regular bus services running between Brasov and Bran Castle. More transport info here.
Or visit my Top 10 Castles page.