Bran Castle’s Time Tunnel: An Elevator of History and Legends

Bran Castle, famous for its Dracula connection, offers a unique experience — the Time Tunnel. 

This modern marvel is the only elevator that climbs into history and descends into the future.

The Time Tunnel provides an interactive multimedia presentation about the castle’s rich history and European culture.

The Elevator Experience

The Time Tunnel at Bran Castle is Romania’s longest officially permitted elevator ride at 31.5 meters. 

It has smoke detectors and sensors for temperature, humidity, gas, and seismic activity, ensuring visitor safety without compromising its immersive experience.

The journey begins in the Vertical Gallery, where you can see the original rock tiles from the elevator shaft’s first construction in 1937. 

This section has been declared a historical landmark, preserving its original character.

As the elevator descends, you get glimpses of Bran Castle’s legends: elegant ghosts, fire-breathing dragons, supernatural maidens, and even a cloud of bats. 

These elements bring to life the folklore and stories associated with the castle.

The Vertical Gallery

The Vertical Gallery comes alive with historical and interactive elements during the nearly one-minute descent in the glass elevator.

This section is also a visual reminder of the castle’s architectural evolution.

During the descent, the elevator’s glass walls provide glimpses of various multimedia displays depicting:

  • Elegant Ghosts: Spectral figures stroll the castle’s dark corridors that suggest the eerie legends of Bran Castle.
  • Fire-Breathing Dragons: These mythical creatures, rooted in Romanian folklore, further add a touch of fantasy to the journey.
  • Supernatural Maidens (Ielele): Known in Romanian mythology as attractive and mysterious beings, you can see these maidens dancing under the moonlight.
  • Cloud of Bats: Symbolizing the Dracula legend, bats flutter around, adding to the mystical atmosphere.

The Horizontal Gallery

The Horizontal Gallery, the second part of the Time Tunnel, spans the first six meters of the fortress’s ancient tunnel, made from original stone. 

This section offers a multimedia exhibition that uses advanced technology to display significant moments from Bran Castle’s history

Key images and videos create a timeline that takes visitors through pivotal events.

  • 1211: The Teutonic Knights arrive in Transylvania and establish their regional presence.
  • 1407: King Sigismund of Luxembourg grants Bran Castle to Mircea the Elder, Prince of Wallachia, in recognition of his efforts against the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1460: Vlad the Impaler, famously known as Dracula, leads his troops past Bran Castle to attack Brașov. This strengthens Wallachia’s defenses against the Ottomans.
  • 1596: Michael the Brave, Prince of Wallachia, stays at Bran Castle during his campaign to unite Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia.
  • 1920: Queen Marie of Romania was gifted the castle by the citizens of Brașov, who admired her for her dedication and charisma.
  • 1938: After Queen Marie’s death, Princess Ileana inherits Bran Castle and continues to care for it until the communist regime takes over in 1948.

The Horizontal Gallery’s multimedia presentations are a highlight of the Time Tunnel experience. 

These exhibits use advanced technology to engage visitors in the rich history and cultural significance of Bran Castle. 

Here are some key features:

  • Arrival of the Teutonic Knights (1211): This exhibit illustrates the arrival of the Teutonic Knights in Burzenland, now part of Transylvania, setting the stage for the region’s medieval history.
  • Mircea the Elder’s Fiefdom (1407): Depicts the moment King Sigismund of Luxembourg granted Bran Castle to Mircea, the Elder. The castle was strategically crucial in defending against Ottoman incursions.
  • Vlad the Impaler’s Campaign (1460): Highlights Vlad the Impaler’s march past Bran Castle to Brașov, emphasizing his role in protecting Wallachia from Turkish attacks.
  • Michael the Brave’s Reign (1596): Chronicles Michael the Brave’s stay at Bran Castle during his quest to unite the Romanian principalities. This underlines the castle’s significance as a political and military stronghold.
  • Queen Marie’s Restoration (1920): Showcases Queen Marie of Romania’s restoration efforts and her deep connection with the castle, celebrating her legacy.
  • Princess Ileana’s Stewardship (1938): Explores Princess Ileana’s tenure and her efforts to preserve Bran Castle until the communist takeover in 1948.

Historical Background

Bran Castle’s origins date back to the 13th century.

The Teutonic Knights built a wooden fortress around 1220, but the Saxons of Brașov rebuilt it as a stone castle in 1388. 

The castle housed a seven-meter-deep water reservoir, expanded to 59 meters in the 17th century. Travelers often remark on the distinctive taste of the water from this well.

In 1937, Queen Marie of Romania repurposed the old well into an elevator shaft, making it easier for her to access the Royal Gardens at the foot of the castle. 

This elevator, accommodating three people, was an engineering marvel. However, after the royal family left in 1948, the galleries fell into disuse and darkness.

The Revival of the Time Tunnel

Seventy years later, a multidisciplinary team revitalized this forgotten part of the castle. 

The project took nearly six years and opened to the public in the spring of 2017. The modern, smart glass elevator, named Stone, is a crucial feature of the revitalization.