Why is Bran Castle Called Dracula Castle?

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

This character, Count Dracula, is a fictional vampire who became the namesake of Bran Castle due to Stoker’s novel Dracula, published in 1879.

The castle depicted in the novel bears a striking resemblance to Bran Castle, perched on rugged cliffs with breathtaking views.

However, the striking thing is that Stoker never visited Transylvania.

Let’s explore the history of Dracula Castle, from secret corners to Vlad The Impaler to the enduring question: Did the real Dracula exist, or did Vlad the Impaler merely inspire Stoker’s iconic Count? 

Let’s unravel the truth and fiction on Bran Castle, where reality and legend mingle in moonlit Transylvanian legends.

Address- Strada General Traian Mosoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania
Height- 2500 feet or 760 m
Castle Type- Fortress
Architectural Style- Medieval

History of Dracula Castle

Dracula Castle
Image: Bran-castle.com

Dracula Castle also known as Bran Castle history traces back to 1211 when the Teutonic Knights built a wooden fortress on the site.

But, The Mongols destroyed this fortress in 1242. 

In 1377 the Hungarian King Louis I of Anjou gave Brasov’s people the privilege of building a castle over the fortress ruins.

The Bran fortress held a strategic position atop a cliff in a narrow gorge, guarding the passage between Transylvania and Wallachia in ancient Romania.

The castle served as a customs point and defense against Ottoman expansion.

Over the next centuries, Bran Castle passed between Wallachian and Transylvanian rulers, facing damage from conflict and natural disasters. 

Vlad the Impaler, known for his cruelty, attacked Brasov in 1459 after a conflict over custom taxes, burning suburbs and killing Saxons. 

The Saxons purchased Bran in 1498 and sold it in 1651 to George II Rackoczi. 

Extensive restoration work occurred in the late 19th century after the 1848 Revolution and the Russo-Turkish War caused damage. 

In 1920, the citizens of Brasov offered the castle to beloved Queen Marie of Romania, who undertook renovations and built amenities like a park, church, and hydroelectric power plant to use as a summer residence.

After Queen Marie died 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 Exist?

Did Count Dracula Exist
Image: Bran-castle.com

Count Dracula, as we know him, is a fictional character from Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel “Dracula”. 

He is believed to be the prototypical and archetypal vampire in the following works of fiction.

He is described as a centuries-old vampire with pointed ears and sharp teeth, aiming to expand his control across Europe by creating more vampires.

However, it is widely believed that the character of Count Dracula was inspired by the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler. 

Vlad was infamous for his brutal tactics against his enemies, including impalement.

Despite these historical connections, the vampire Count Dracula depicted in Stoker’s novel did not exist.

So, while Count Dracula’s character is fictional, his story’s elements were inspired by real historical figures and folklore.

Why Vlad The Impaler Was Associated with Count Dracula?

Why Vlad The Impaler Was Associated with Count Dracula
Image: Bran-castle.com

Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III Dracula, was Walachia’s 15th-century voivode (military governor or prince).

He got his infamous reputation in 15th-century Europe because of his brutal tactics of punishing his enemies, including impalement, boiling and skinning people alive, and disembowelment. 

His surname, Dracula, meaning “son of Dracul”, was derived from his father’s induction into the Order of the Dragon. 

The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund created this order for the defense of Christian Europe against the Ottoman Empire.

The author of the 1897 novel “Dracula”, Bram Stoker, is believed to have based his character Count Dracula on Vlad the Impaler. 

Stoker may have been inspired by Vlad’s reputation and the stories of his cruelty, but it’s important to note the character of Count Dracula is a work of fiction.

Despite sharing the name, Stoker never suggested a connection between the fictional Count Dracula and the real, historically cruel figure of Vlad the Impaler.

Why Is Count Dracula’s Castle Transylvania Romania Famous?

Count Dracula's Castle
Image: Bran-castle.com

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.

Its tall towers and darkened windows create a stark silhouette against the Transylvanian landscape.

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 as popular a tourist attraction as Dracula Castle. 

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

Despite the lack of a direct connection between Bran Castle and the Dracula story, the castle’s eerie atmosphere and its location in Transylvania make it easy to imagine it as the home of the infamous Count Dracula. 

As you walk through its ancient halls and explore its many rooms, you can almost hear the echo of Dracula’s laughter and the rustling of his cape. 

It’s a place that continues to delight the imagination, demonstrating the continuing power of legend and myth.

What Is Unusual About Count Dracula’s Castle in The Book?

In his 1897 masterpiece “Dracula”, Bram Stoker masterfully paints a vivid picture of this chilling fortress.

The Castle of Dracula is portrayed as a mysterious place filled with unusual, fascinating aspects.

These are some of the unusual facts:

  • The isolated location far from the population cut off from the rest of the world adds an ominous and foreboding atmosphere. 
  • When exploring the Castle, Jonathan Harker (the solicitor) notices that the meals are ready for him, but there is no servant present adding a sense of mystery and unease. 
  • Despite its isolated location, the castle is filled with luxurious items like expensive fabric curtains and upholstery, and the table service is made of gold, seemingly centuries old.
  • The castle had no mirrors, a notable detail associated with vampires having no reflection. 
  • Haker also finds out that Count Dracula the host, has some unsetting habits, like scaling down the building walls like a lizard. 
  • There was a crypt in the chapel where fifty boxes filled with earth were stored. Count Dracula, who had just consumed blood, was found in one of these boxes. 

Who currently lives in Dracula’s castle?

Who live in Bran Castle
Image: Bran-castle.com

Bran Castle was the most famous resident of Queen Marie of Romania, who refurbished Bran Castle and used it as a royal residence in the 20th century.

However, currently, no one lives in Dracul’s Castle Bran Castle.

In 2009, Dracula’s Castle was returned to its true owners, Archduke Dominic and his sisters Maria Magdalena and Elisabeth Sandhofer.

Once the administration was transferred to them by the Romanian government, they opened the castle to the public in June 2009.

It was the first private museum in Romania and popular for the famous Dracula tour, which attracts tourists worldwide.

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