Why is Bran Castle Called Dracula’s Castle?

Drawing from literary history, Bram Stoker, an Irish novelist of the 19th century, gave birth to Count Dracula—a  cruel prince doomed to survive on the blood of the living for eternity.

But did this character ever reside at Bran Castle, giving it his name? We’d say no.

Then why is Bran Castle called Dracula’s Castle? The answer is it is partly due to the legends surrounding it, and partly due to a clever marketing campaign to boost tourism. 

So, what are the legends surrounding Bran Castle? And how did they contribute to Dracula Castle’s myth? Join us as we unpack them all in this article.

History of Bran Castle

Bran Castle, also known as Dracula Castle, dates back to 1211 when the Teutonic Knights built a wooden fortress on its present site. However, the Mongols destroyed it in 1242. 

In 1377, the Hungarian King Louis I of Anjou privileged the Saxon people of Brasov by building a castle over its ruins.

The resultant fortress was strategic to the passage between Transylvania and Wallachia. 

Located atop a cliff in a narrow gorge, it served as a customs point and defensive perimeter against Ottoman expansion.

However, it was also susceptible to attacks and counterattacks.

It even passed hands between the Wallachian and Transylvanian rulers and faced damage from conflicts and natural disasters.

Eventually, the Castle was passed on to the Austo-Hungarian Empire. After its dissolution, Bran Castle became the summer residence of Romanian rulers.

Extensive restoration work occurred in the late 19th century and again in 1920s by Queen Marie of Romania, who also built a park, church, and a hydroelectric power plant.

After her death in 1938, the castle passed to her daughter, Princess Ileana.

Ileana fled communism in 1948, and the government opened parts of Bran as a museum in 1956. Ileana briefly returned after communism’s fall but died in 1991.

In 2006, the castle legally returned to her heirs, who opened Romania’s first private museum in 2009, displaying Queen Marie’s art and furniture.

Did Count Dracula Reside at Bran Castle?

Count Dracula, as we know him, is a fictional character from Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel “Dracula.”  He is nowhere associated with Bran Castle.

However, some believe that Count Dracula was inspired by the 15th-century Romanian Voivode Vlad III Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler.

Vlad was infamous for his brutal tactics of impaling his enemies, boiling them and skinning them alive.  

He had even attacked Brasov, destroyed its suburbs and ordered the impalement of its residents. Yet no records mention his residing at Bran Castle.

On the other hand, while Stoker may have referred to Vlad the Impaler and his atrocities, he also had other influences. 

However, there are some legends that suggest Vlad’s imprisonment in the castle for two months, whatever may be the truth, only a visit to the Castle can reveal it.

Are Bran Castle and Dracula’s Castle Same?

Chapter 2 of Dracula describes the Count’s castle as “on the very edge of a terrific precipice…with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm [with] silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.” 

Further, Castle Dracula is depicted as a dark and foreboding place, filled with long passageways and heavy doors. 

Whereas Bran Castle is nestled high on a rocky cliff in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.

Bram Stoker’s description of Count Dracula’s castle perfectly mirrors the original castle’s (Bran Castle) location and atmosphere.

Due to the uncanny resemblance of its fictional portrayal to its actual location, the castle earned its name, ‘Count Dracula’s Castle.

This connection to Bram Stoker’s fictional character has made Bran Castle a popular tourist attraction as Dracula Castle. 

However, the truth is that this connection is largely a product of marketing. 

Hollywood movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Van Helsing (2004) , Vlad’s legend and descriptions of Castle Dracul have all made Bran Castle marketable as Dracula’s Castle.

Who Currently Lives in Dracula’s Castle?

Currently, no one lives in Dracul’s Castle Bran Castle.

After the government transferred the castle’s administration to Archduke Dominic and his sisters, they opened the castle to the public in June 2009. 

Till date it is the first private museum in Romania and is famous for its Dracula tour, which attracts tourists worldwide. 

You can visit the castle for its display collection of artefacts and to check the things inside the castle.