We are very happy to present a special article from friends of the Fairytale Traveler, Cheryl and Lisa of What Boundaries travel blog. When we discovered they were on location at Bran Castle in Transylvania, we couldn’t help but invite them to share their great story with us!
Cheryl and Lisa at Bran Castle, Transylvania
Deep within Transylvania lies the forbidding old fortress of Bran Castle, notably the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. Bran Castle – also called Dracula’s Castle – overlooks the surrounding countryside with a sinister sneer. Come with us as we go inside the castle and look deep into the dark places. Let’s explore the secret stairways and the hidden passages where you’ll feel the cold breath of those who came before…if you dare!
Bran Castle has a history going back to 1211 when the Teutons erected a fort on the present location. The Turkish name for Bran is “gate” and this gateway has served as a protection to the people against invading armies since that time. The castle sits high on a steep, rocky cliff and closely resembles the description from Stoker’s Dracula.
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.” -Bram Stoker, Dracula
Die hard Bram Stoker fan? Check out this year’s Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin Ireland, home of Bram Stoker!
Bran Castle and Dracula are historically connected, but not quite as closely as we would hope. Bram Stoker used a combination of folk sources, historical facts, and personal friends to design a complex character we know of as Count Dracula. The evil, bloodthirsty vampire of lore came from stories in the small Romanian villages near Bran, where there is a belief in the existence of ghostlike evil spirit the people call “strigoi”. These troubled souls of the dead roam the earth as vampires. However, the real Dracula – Vlad the Impaler – never lived in the castle, but actually came through Bran and Brasov in 1459 to ruthlessly burn the suburbs and kill hundreds of Saxons from the Transylvania area.
Bram Stoker had access to the book History of Moldavia and Wallachia by Johann Christian Engel. This is likely where he saw Vlad the Impaler first described as an evil and bloody tyrant. Stoker also may have seen famous Saxon engravings of Vlad the Impaler at the Royal Library in London. In the British Museum collections, these engravings show Vlad as a monster, a vampire who drinks man’s blood, and an astoundingly cruel conqueror. It’s no wonder Count Dracula has the ability to raise goosebumps even over 100 years after his creation!
A step back in time at Bran Castle is a must for all Stoker fans and those who love the secret shadowy places found in ancient castles. It can be crowded at times, so be sure to make the effort to find those special places in the dark recesses of Dracula’s Castle…because you never know what you may find!
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