One of the reasons why I started a blog is because I have so, so many wonderful traveling stories that I want to share! There are so many lovely places that are just waiting to be discovered . Some are famous, some are less famous, and some are completely unknown.
Today I am going to write about our trip at the Bran Castle. I think everyone heard about Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula (unless you were living under a rock all these time). We took so many photos that three entire days were needed just to sort them out and decide which ones to post here! Sure, I will not post every single secret and details about what’s inside the castle, a trace of mystery must remain, just to spark your curiosity.
The real Dracula’s Castle
I will not insist with any historical facts or fictions that revolves around the character Dracula and the place. However, I do believe that it is important for everyone to know that the Bran Castle has nothing to do with Vlad Tepes ! The Bran Castle never belonged to Vlad the Impaler! So why is the Bran Castle associated with Dracula? The only reason is because the castle resembles Bram Stoker’s descriptions . And people started to come here in waves from all over the world, so the locals turned the castle into an attraction for the tourists. So where is Vlad’s castle then? Vlad’s only castle is located at about 100 km southwest of Bran, a heavily fortified citadel , called the Poenari Castle. The Poenari Castle is also open for visits but the access is very difficult. One must climb no less than 1.480 stairs . Because of the difficult access and the misinformation, the Poenari Castle is a ruin , as of these days. Sad, isn’t it? But don’t let this piece of truth trick you into believing that Vlad the Impaler’s existence and all of his horrors are fake news too. He was real and cruel, all right.
So, to make myself clear – this post is about Dracula’s Castle, the fictional character , and not about the Castle of the voivod Vlad III Dracula.
The real Queen of the Bran castle
The Bran castle was a gift from the people of Brasov to Queen Marie of Romania, and later her daughter Ileana resided in this castle.
17th August 2019
The Bran Castle is located at about 30 km from Brasov, Romania. I didn’t knew how popular this place was until we got there. At 6 AM the locals were already starting to place their souvenirs and goods on the stands. The August sun was slowly rising but the morning was chill. Surprisingly by 7:30 AM the line was already forming. We drank a coffee at one of the pubs, stroll a bit through the stands, bought a few souvenirs and got in line .By 7 AM the place was already getting crowded.
All kinds of souvenirs : from magnets, postcards, t-shirts and mugs with Dracula to handcrafted pottery, jewelry, carved wooden statues and clothing items. And of course lots of local street food and drinks.
There was also a horror house for your entertainment. We didn’t got in as we were in a hurry to get in line. I think it is worth to mention that there were 3 kinds of tickets available for purchase at the entrance : the basic one (9 euro for adults), The Torture Chamber -where Vlad’s torture instruments are held, plus explanations in details of the instruments and torture methods (2 euros, no kids allowed) and The Time Tunnel ( 5 euros). So you pay 16 euros for the entire deal. The last two were optional but I strongly recommend you to buy all 3 tickets. Worth it.
The line was getting bigger and bigger.
So many people from all over the world! I think I’ve heard all the languages available on this Earth in one day!
After almost 3 hours of waiting in line we were finally inside the castle.
Views from inside the castle
The Torture Chamber
The Time Tunnel
I will not post any photos from the tunnel , I don’t want to spoil things for everyone. But if you have a ticket you get to exit the castle through the Time Tunnel. It is an interactive tunnel with lots of surprises! I recommend you to take that exit….who knows? You might be lucky enough to meet the count himself! And the final stop – from the tunnel you enter the souvenir shop Oculus.
If you don’t have a ticket for the Time Tunnel you can still reach the Oculus gift shop from the back yard.
But , wait! There is more to visit! There is a small village right at the foot of the castle. You can’t really get inside the houses, the doors are locked but the windows were all open so the tourists can take a peek and photos.
I sadly I don’t have a clue what this monument is. I’m sure it represents something but there were no signs with information or anyone around that could enlighten us. But it was a blessing to take a break from all the fun and enjoy the warm sun! It is quite cold in the castle.
Stella Maris Chapel
About 1-2 km from the Bran Castle sits this beautiful chapel that was build for Queen Marie in 1929.
The heart of Queen Marie
And our final stop is this place above the hill, not far from the chapel.
In this marble coffin sat the heart of Queen Marie for 27 years after her death.The golden casket is no longer in this marble coffin . Now the heart can be found in the Royal Chapel at the Pelisor Castle.
These are all the souvenirs I have left. The rest of them I gave them to friends and relatives. A book with all medieval castles and fortifications from Romania (11 euros) and a bat (11 euros) that I got from the inside the gift shop (Oculus). A bat was a must! Post cards and magnets (price range from 1 euro to 3 euros each) are from the outside stands.
I so wanted to get a fancy t-shirt or two , with Dracula, all kind of cool designs, but the prices were crazy! Here is a hint : t-shirt prices varies from 30 euros to 38 in Oculus, 21 euros outside at the stands and – if you’re willing to visit the Rasnov fortress, which is not too far- the exact same shirts , same prints, costs about 10 euros! And, no. I still didn’t got the t-shirt. Instead I drank a Turkish coffee and ate lots of yummies from the stands.
The Bran Castle surely improved a lot since my first visit back in 2001.