Before arriving to Romania, I made myself a list of attractions and places that I wanted to visit during my six-week stay. This past weekend I finally got to visit attraction number one on my list, Bran’s Castle. I know what you’re thinking – didn’t I mean to write Dracula’s Castle instead? In fact, I didn’t, but you should be informed about the Dracula Myth. In 1897, Irish novelist Bram Stoker wrote one of the enduring classics of the horror genre –Dracula. Stoker found his inspiration for the horror classic in Romania. Romania is a land rich in folktales, superstitions, gothic castles, and endless mountains. Stoker was inspired by the gothic simplicity that Romania has to offer, and chose the northern Transylvania region as the setting for his novel. “The Castle Dracula,” as it is known, is located on Mount Izvorul Calimanului, which is located near the former border with Moldavia. Romanians were not informed about the story of Dracula, and the Dracula Castle, until after the fall of the Romanian Communist Party in 1989. At first, they were baffled by the concept, but later accepted it due to capitalism – Romanians view Bran’s Castle as Dracula’s Castle for the sake of tourism. However, there is no evidence that suggests Stoker has ever even heard of Bran Castle. A Connection can be traced from the historical figure, Vlad III Dracula, who provided much of Stoker’s vampiric antagonist.
Vlad III Dracula
Vlad III Dracula was born to the house of Draculesti in 1431. Vlad was known for his love for cruelty throughout Europe. He was given the nickname “Vlad The Impaler” due to having killed thousands of enemies during his reign, from 1456 to 1462. Vlad III Dracula loved impaling his enemies on long wooden spikes. It has been said that he hired surgeons to help guide the thick shaft to prevent damage to the vital organs. He was exiled during his reign and was jailed during his second reign. Vlad was only a guest for a brief time at Bran Castle.
It’s easy to see how the 15th century Bran’s Castle can stir up this mythology. The dark wooden-paneled floors open into arched white corridors. The castle has numerous balconies and walkways that offer spectacular views of the Transylvanian mountains. The castle also contains many secret passages that lead from the first floor to the third floor. Some rooms are arranged with furniture that Queen Marie had as her decor, while others contain museum exhibitions. It was a busy Saturday afternoon, but nothing could take away the beauty of the gothic simplicity of the castle. There are a few suggestions I would make if you ever plan on visiting the castle: First, bring your student i.d. card to receive a discount. Also, wait to buy your tourist souvenirs until you get to Bran. The gift shop really should be called “gift town.” It’s a series of markets where you can buy t-shirts, mugs, magnets, bells, and Dracula-theme souvenirs. One should always remember when visiting Bran, Dracula is solely used for marketing and you will not find any vampires. The castle itself is incredibly impressive and filled with history. I’m sure Dracula himself would have loved living there.