Bran Castle situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Brasov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia , on DN73 Road. Commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poienari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is marketed as the home of the titular character in Bram”s Stoker Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle. There is evidence, however, that Vlad Tepes actually did use the castle during his raids into Transylvania.
The Bran fortress was built on a cliff between Măgura and The Hill of the Fortress, its position conferring an outstanding view towards both the hills of Moeciu and the ones from the Land of Bârsa. The building of the fortress was imposed by strategic and economic reasons. The strategic reasons underlined by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire which, by the end of the XIV century, began threatening the south-eastern borders of Transylvania; the economic reasons, given by the fact that the commercial road, one of the most important access ways connecting Transylvania to Wallachia, crossed this area. All these reasons determined the Hungarian king Louis I of Anjou to develop strengthening works of the Bran pass.
The History of Bran Castle
In 1212, Teutonic Knights built the wooden castle of Dietrichstein as a fortified position in the Burzenland at the entrance to a mountain valley through which traders had travelled for more than a millennium, although it was destroyed in 1242 by the Mongols. The first documented mentioning of Bran Castle is the act issued by Luis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Braşov) the privilege to build the stone citadel on their own expense and labor force; the settlement of Bran began to develop nearby. The castle was first used in 1378 in defence against the Ottoman Empire , and later became a customs post on the mountain pass between Transylvania and Wallachia . The castle briefly belonged to Mircea the Elder of Wallachia. Vlad Tepes also used Bran Castle as headquarters for his incursions into Transylvania.
From 1920 the castle became a royal residence within the Kingdom of Romania . It was the principal home of Queen Marie , and is decorated largely with artifacts from her time, including traditional furniture and tapestries that she collected to highlight Romanian crafts and skills. The castle was inherited by her daughter,Princess Ileana , and was later seized by the communist regime after the expulsion of the royal family in 1948.
Today the Bran Castle also known as Dracula’s Home it’s a museum dedicated to the history of the surrounding area and the history and memory of Queen Marie and her family. There is acknowledgement in the castle of the tangential association with Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) upon whom the fictional character, Dracula is loosely based. The museum is open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie. Tourists can see the interior individually or by a guided tour. At the bottom of the hill is a small open air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasent structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country.