Facts about Bran Castle

Standing proudly at 762 meters on a cliff, Bran Castle is Romania’s premier tourist attraction. 

Surrounded by dense, eerie forests and valleys, it is the perfect setting for the infamous Count Dracula legend.

However, there’s much more to Bran Castle than its spooky appearance. 

Here are eleven fascinating facts about Bran Castle that will surprise you.

1. A Castle with a Long History

The first castle on this site was a wooden structure built by Teutonic Knights in 1212, referred to as Dietrichstein. 

It was likely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1242. The stone castle was built in the late 14th century and was first mentioned in 1377. 

Louis I of Hungary allowed the Saxons of Kronstadt (modern-day Brașov) to build the stone castle. 

Over the centuries, it served various military and strategic functions, especially during the Ottoman invasions in the 15th century.

2. The Castle is a Museum Today

In 2009, Bran Castle underwent a significant transformation.

It returned to the ownership of Archduke Dominic and his sisters after being administered by the Romanian government. 

This led to the castle’s public opening in June 2009 as Romania’s first private museum. Renowned for its Dracula tour, the castle attracts visitors from all over the world.

Visitors can explore its vast collection of medieval art, furniture, and objects. 

The castle’s museum showcases artifacts that provide insight into the region’s rich history.

It also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Carpathian Mountains and the lush green valleys. 

3. Dracula’s Castle?

Bran Castle is famously known as “Dracula’s Castle” due to its association with Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.” 

However, there’s no evidence that Bram Stoker knew of Bran Castle. 

The novel describes Count Dracula’s actual castle as crumbling, but Bran Castle isn’t. 

The castle’s eerie appearance and association with Vlad the Impaler, a brutal ruler of Wallachia in the 15th century, probably inspired the reference to Dracula.

 4. Vlad the Impaler Connection

Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III, ruled Wallachia between 1448 and 1477. 

He earned his gruesome nickname by impaling his enemies. While some historians believe he was once imprisoned at Bran Castle, this has been debunked. 

Vlad the Impaler likely never set foot in the castle. 

The Romanian government has marketed Bran Castle as the “real Dracula Castle” since the 1970s, capitalizing on the legend.

5. The Well Outside is Not a Well

An intriguing fact about Bran Castle is the exterior well, which is not a genuine well but rather an elevator.

It assisted Queen Marie as she aged and experienced difficulty climbing the castle’s stairs. 

This elevator extended to her royal gardens, offering her a discreet entry to Bran Castle.

6. The Not-So-Secret Secret Passage

Before Queen Marie’s renovations, a hidden passage within Bran Castle lay forgotten. It served as an emergency escape route connecting the first and third floors.

This concealed passage was rediscovered during room rearrangements when workers moved an old fireplace.

7. The Castle Was Once a Customs Point 

Bran Castle served as a customs point under Mircea, the Elder’s rule, due to its strategic location on the route to Wallachia. 

It required merchants traveling into Transylvania to pay taxes before proceeding to Wallachia.

8. Queen Marie’s Renovations

Bran Castle was restored in 1920 under the residency of Queen Marie of Romania. 

The castle became one of her favorite residences. She sought architect Karel Zdenek Liman to revitalize the castle, including her distinctive furnishings and art. 

Her daughter, Princess Ileana, inherited the castle and turned it into a hospital during World War II.

9. From Castle to Hospital

Another one of the most fascinating facts about Bran Castle is that following Queen Marie’s passing, her daughter, Princess Ileana, inherited It. 

During World War II, she transformed it into a hospital, providing care to patients until 1948, when the communist regime assumed control.

10. Romania’s Iconic Landmark

Despite being a national monument of Romania, Bran Castle is not owned by the state. 

After World War I and the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, Transylvania became part of Romania. 

After World War II, the communist regime seized the castle, keeping it under state control until the early 1990s. 

Princess Ileana, who later moved to the United States and founded an English-language Orthodox monastery, had the castle taken from her in 1948. 

One of the most amazing facts about Bran Castle is that following the fall of communism, the Romanian government eventually returned the castle to Dominic von Habsburg, son of Princess Ileana. 

This transfer occurred in 2005 after a lengthy legal process.

He and his two sisters became the rightful owners in 2009. Bran Castle’s return to her descendants marked the end of a long struggle for ownership.

11. Renovations After Damage

Bran Castle has endured significant damage over the centuries. 

An explosion in 1539 and a severe storm that damaged the fort’s roofs required extensive renovations. 

In the 17th century, Gabriel Bethlen oversaw its renovations, and the northern tower received renovations in 1723.

Construct8iked in the 14th century as a fortress to safeguard Transylvania’s border, Bran Castle has immense historical significance. 

It defended Transylvania against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century and later functioned as a customs point. 

Today, it is a renowned museum and a vital attraction in Romania, drawing visitors with its rich history and eerie legends.