In August 2011, I traveled to Romania for the first time. Taxi drivers that will rip you off for everything you are worth, not withstanding, Romania is truely a beautiful country. The larger cities such as Bucharest and Brasov still show the wear and tear left behind from the Communist era, but the country side and areas closer to the Carpathians are breath-taking.
A quick bus ride from Brasov is Bran Castle (aka Castle Dracula). Every review and blog I read before traveling said this was a tourist trap, and maybe it is, but there was no way The Macabre Tourist could visit Romania without seeing this infamous castle.
Now, a bit of corrective history–Bram Stoker’s character, Dracula, is based upon the Wallachian prince, Vlad Tepes. Tepes does not have any significat connection with Bran Castle other than the fact that it is located in Transylvania. So why is Bran Castle known as Dracula’s Castle? Most likely the forboading exterior resembles the description in Stokers novel–that and it was marketed that way to draw tourists (i.e. me).
After everything I had read about Bran Castle, my expectations where quite low when I arrived. The small village of Bran with the Castle perched upon a hill staring down upon me–me and the numerous kitchy Dracula souvenir vendors. However, once I entered the gates leading to the castle, all of that changed. The long, winding path that led to the castle proper wasn’t kitchy or tacky at all. It was a very cool 14th Century Castle, that definitely gave off the “Dracula” vibe. Perhaps I was looking for a different experience than those who came before me, but I was very pleased! The interior houses the collection of Queen Marie along with a reproduction costume of Vlad Tepes and other information regarding Vlad and the Dracula story.
Is Bran Castle worth a visit? Absolutely! Any die-hard fan of the Dracula story should definitely make a day trip to Bran Castle. In addition to the “I was there” bragging rights, the castle is also a beautiful historic example of Romanian history and architecture. Just understand that any connection to Bran and Dracula is more fiction than fact.