Weekend in Bran

Backed by Bucegi Mountains and facing the flatlands, Bran is an impressive Gothic castle and an inspiration for Dracula’s bloody legends.

Photo by Horia Varlan

Bran Castle is located in Bran, 25 km away from Brasov and 190 km from Bucharest. Its history dates back to 1382 when Saxons built it as a form of defense for Bran Pass against Turks. Following the Turks attack on the Poienari fortress in 1462, Vlad Tepes spend a few nights at Bran. In fact, Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler never consider the castle to be his home, the only historic connection are those few nights spent there.

As the years passed Queen Marie transformed the castle in her home. From 1920 to 1947 the castle was used as a summer royal residence until King Michael was forced to abdicate. From 1957 the castle is opened for the public as a museum. From 2006, the keys to the castle return to Queen Marie’s grandson, Dominic von Habsburg, an architect based in New York.

Seen from a distance and shrouded in mist on a rainy day, Bran Castle makes visitors shiver.

Photo by kvitlauk

The entrance to the castle is marked with a sign “Muzeul Bran”. A single pathway will lead visitors inside the castle. The newly renovated interiors blend perfectly with the original furniture brought by Queen Marie from Western Europe.  Also, the hidden stairways and rather claustrophobic crannies and nooks give the impression that the castle is really haunted. The views from the watchtower over the village are stunning. Once in the interior courtyard you will see lots of coins thrown in the fountain by the numerous visitors. The fountain is rather a portal to the underground secret passages, rather than a wishing well.

Don’t miss the open air village museum located at the foot of the castle. It showcases dozens of traditional buildings. Opposite the castle, near the former Customs House, the heart of Queen Marie rests in a petite stone chapel carved into the mountain.

Andreea Neagu

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