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Bran Castle Facts

Standing as Romania’s premier tourist attraction at 762 meters on a cliff, the castle lies surrounded by dense forests and winding valleys.

With its spooky setting, it appears custom-made for the infamous Count Dracula. 

However, beneath its dramatic exterior lies a complex world.

Here are seven fascinating Bran Castle facts that may surprise you.

The Castle is a Museum Today

In 2009, Dracula’s Castle underwent a significant change, returning to the ownership of Archduke Dominic and his sisters. 

The Romanian government transferred administration to them, leading to the castle’s public opening in June 2009. 

It became Romania’s first private museum, renowned for its Dracula tour, attracting visitors from across the globe.

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.

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 an old fireplace was moved.

From Castle to Hospital

Following Queen Marie’s passing, her daughter, Princess Ileana, inherited Bran Castle. 

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

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.

Queen Marie Restored the Decaying Castle

Bran Castle was restored in 1920 under Queen Marie’s residency. 

She sought architect Karel Zdenek Liman to revitalize the castle and include her distinctive furnishings and art.

Romania’s iconic Landmark

Constructed 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. It later functioned as a customs point, and now stands as a renowned museum.  

The Bran Castle is now a vital attraction in Romania.

Renovations Were Necessary After the Explosion

Bran Castle endured significant damage following an explosion in 1539 and a severe storm damaging the fort’s roofs. 

In the 17th century, Gabriel Bethen oversaw its renovations. The Castle’s northern tower received renovation in 1723

It Was Never Dracula’s Castle

Contrary to popular belief, Bran Castle was not the residence of Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure on whom the Dracula legend is based. 

The name “Dracula’s Castle” was assigned by Romania to boost tourism, even though there’s little evidence of Vlad’s connection to the castle.

Vlad the Impaler Was Held Captive Here

While there’s no definitive evidence that Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure behind Dracula, resided in Bran Castle, many historians believe he was forcibly detained there for two months. 

In 1462, he was captured by Hungarian King Matei Corvin’s army and held within the castle.

A Purposeful Small Door

Although it appears to be a centuries-old fixture, the large oak door at the top of the  winding staircase was a later addition by Queen Marie. 

Initially, in the 14th century, the entrance was relatively small, approximately 25 feet above ground level and accessible via a drawbridge. 

This design and archers and defenses rendered the fortress virtually impregnable

Vampire Rumors 

Bram Stoker didn’t invent vampires. 

Nearby villages, ancient folklore featured ‘strigoi’ – living by day but haunting at night.

These strigoi were said to torment villages and disturb them in their sleep.

Some believe Stoker was inspired by Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

She was a female serial killer known for her ‘vampiric’ practices, like bathing in virgins’ blood for eternal youth.

Bram Stoker Never Ever Visited Bran Castle

Despite the striking resemblance between Stoker’s descriptions and Bran Castle, Bram Stoker never visited the site. 

Instead, it’s believed that Transylvanian literature and illustrations inspired his depiction of Dracula’s castle.

The Castle is home to Queen Marie’s Heart

In 1920, Bran Castle was gifted to Queen Marie, who fell in love with it and spent many summers there. 

In her will, she requested her heart to be buried near the castle. 

A sarcophagus containing her heart can be found near a forest creek on the southwest side of the castle.

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