The Bran Castle in Transylvania, which can be visited from the inside, is known not only by lovers of history but also by fans of movies and novels, as the name of the castle is now washed together with the name of Count Dracula. Although the locals are not a fan of pop culture and do their best so that the castle is defined mainly by its true history, in this article we will also cover the prince of vampires.
No trip to Transylvania can miss the famous Bran Castle, which now functions as a museum. Inside, a permanent exhibition of remembrances from the former Romanian royal family can be seen.
The castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Transylvania. Bran has been under renovation several times over the years but has recently been completely restored.
Situated on a 100m high hill, the castle has only one entrance, which you will find on the southern castle wall. Bran also had a forecourt in the valley. Even today, there are parts that remain of the battlemented walls of the forecourt, which gives a good idea of its former extent.
This forecourt closed the strait, and visitors to the country were checked, their customs cleared that way. There were also farm and residential buildings, as the upper castle (Bran) was too small to accommodate them.
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The castle was built by King Louis I of Hungary to protect one of the most important trade routes from the attacks of the voivodes of Wallachia. Therefore, the castle itself was built next to the road in 1377.
One of the most significant battles of the castle was the defensive battle against the Turks in 1441 when they marched through Transylvania.
It was impossible to hear about the castle for years, until later, in the charter of John Hunyadi in 1448. The castle was later pledged to Brasov by King Vladislav on the condition that the castellan appointed could only be Hungarian. In 1568, Brasov received the castle for good, from Prince John Sigismund for 200 HUF in taxes.
The castle was then bought from the city of Brasov in 1651 by George Rakoczi II.The castle slowly lost its protective role, so much so that in the 1830s it functioned only as an administrative place.
The mayor of Brasov donated the Bran Castle in 1920 to the Romanian Queen Mary. The queen rebuilt it and restored it with romantic additions, then left it to her daughter, Princess Helena, who married Anthony Habsburg on July 26, 1931. In 1948 - after the exile of the royal family - the castle of Bran became the property of the Romanian state.
The most famous vampire
Several kings of Hungary donated estates to the princely family of Wallachia, so they provide protection to the ruler and his family if necessary. Thus in 1431 Sigismund de Luxembourg appointed Vlad II., or Vlad Dracul, to the rule of Vojvodina in Wallachia.
Along with the nomination, Sigismund also appointed the prince as the Knight of the Order of the Dragon, hence the name Dracul.
According to another source, the prince was nicknamed by his Wallachian subjects because of his cruel character - since the word dracul means not only dragon but also devil in Romanian.
Later, after several victorious battles against the Turks, John Hunyadi appointed Vlad III. (Vlad Tepes) the son of Vlad II, as the voivode of Wallachia in 1456.
The cruel prince later appears in the books as Count Dracula. As a result of his cruelty, Matthias Hunyadi finally arrested the count in Brasov and imprisoned him in Visegrad.
Count Dracula, deprived of his throne, was imprisoned in Visegrad for 12 years until he was released in 1476 and returned to the throne of Wallachia. He was killed 3 months later by his own subjects.
III. Prince Vlad was the base for the character that Bram Stroker wrote in 1897. The book was published under the title Dracula, in which the story is told through diary-like entries and letters. Although the vampire character was not created by Stoker (it existed before that), it undoubtedly created the most famous vampire figure in the world.
Halloween in the Bran Castle
Halloween is held every year on October 31st in the Bran Castle. If you are in the area, do not miss the unusual experience!
Where is the Bran Castle?
The castle is located in Transylvania, Romania, in Brasov County. The castle can be found in Bran, 27 km from Brasov.
The town at the Bran gorge is inhabited by about 1,500 people, at the time of the 2011 census, 5 Hungarians lived here.
The strait and the castle built here were some of the most important defenses of the Southern Carpathians.
- Address: Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania
- GPS coordinates: N 45.515178 °, E 25.367044 °
- Distance from Bucharest: 180 km / 3 hours
During the high season, the castle operates with longer opening hours. Fortunately, the castle is open every day (except for holidays).
- April 1 - September 30
- Every day, 09:00 to 18:00 (Monday 12:00 to 18:00)
- October 1 - March 31
- Every day, 09:00 to 16:00 (Monday 12:00 to 16:00)
Prices and tickets
You can buy tickets to the castle online. You do not have to print the tickets, because the gate equipped with a scan can also read the QR codes on your phone.
- Adult ticket: 9 euro / 45 lei
- Child ticket: 2 euros / 10 lei
- Child admission under the age of 7: free
- Student entrance: 5 euros / 25 lei
- Retired ticket: 7 euros / 35 lei
- Admission for the disabled: free
In addition to the entrance, an audio guide in different languages can be requested, so you can listen to the guidance in your native language. Also, the price includes the cost of taking pictures (amateur photos).
Attractions in the area
There are some sights around Bran that are worth a visit for a day's stay. The most beautiful and nearest sights of these will be now presented one by one.
# 1 Bran Open-Air Museum
Muulul Satului Branean
The village museum next to the Bran Castle evokes the atmosphere of the Open-Air Museum in Szentendre, Hungary. This museum with charming houses could be a great program for children, as here the little ones can see how the people in the countryside have lived and in the meantime, everyone is spending some time outdoors.
The local autumn fair is organized annually by the Bran Museum. In 2019, this event fell on the last weekend of September.
The open-air museum is closed on Mondays, but except for this, it is open from 09:00 to 16:30 on other days (in winter as well).
- Address: Strada General Traian Moșoiu, Bran 507025, Romania
- Distance from Bran Castle car park: 5 minutes on foot
# 2 National Museum
Muzeul National Bran
On the other side of the road, opposite the castle, you will find the National Museum. In the museum, you will find the exhibition about the Romanian Queen Mary mentioned earlier. You can also view temporary exhibitions here.
You can visit the museum from Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00 to 18:00. The museum is closed on Mondays. You can find their website here.
- Address: Strada Doctor Aurel Stoian 14, Bran 507025, Romania
- Distance from Bran Castle car park: 5 minutes on foot
# 3 Libearty Bear Reserve
Reserve De Urși Zarnești
A little further, a 20-minute drive away, you can find the Zarnesti Bear Reserve. The interesting thing about the park is that it is the largest bear reserve in the world, where between 90 and 100 bears get to live.
The outdoor teddy park is open every day except for Mondays, all year round. The park can only be visited on a guided tour.
Guided tours start at 10 and 11:15 on weekdays and at 09:30, 10:00, and 11:00 on weekends.
The park also operates as a dog shelter.
- Distance from Bran Castle car park: 22 minutes by car / 13 km
# 4 Chisatoare Falls
Cascada La Chișatoare
The Chisatoare Waterfall, just 15 minutes away by car, is well worth a visit in all seasons. The tiny waterfall cannot compete with Niagara, but the fresh air and the short walk are a guaranteed enjoyable program after a visit to the castle for young and old alike.
- The waterfall is free to visit every day for 0-24 hours.
- Distance from Bran Castle car park: 15 minutes by car / 10 km