5 lesser known facts about Bran castle
Home of Count Dracula and a royal heart...
Now, let’s face it. One of the main reasons why travelers come to Romania is to visit Bran castle, known as Dracula’s castle. Without knowing, Bram Stocker created probably the best promotion campaign for Romania when he wrote Count Dracula novel. He did something that most of our leaders did not and for this the Romanian people will be forever grateful.
Being such a popular destination in Romania, you will find plenty of information about it. But we prefer to tell you the story behind the scene: 5 lesser known facts about Bran castle from Romania.
1.Bran castle is the place where Bram Stocker never traveled to
In fact, Bram Stocker never visited Romania before or after he wrote his best seller novel. Which is interesting, considering the fact that in the book he describes pretty faithfully the wild and natural scenery of the Carpathian Mountains, the superstitious Romanians, the land of Transylvania and also the castle where Count Dracula supposedly lived.
2. Is Bran really Dracula’s castle?
Well, we get this question quite often from our tourists. The answer is Yes and No…
When Stocker published his novel, Transylvania was a faraway region and little was known about these Eastern European parts. It was a place surrounded by mystery and the local popular beliefs in ghosts (similar to vampires) were strictly respected. Also, in Transylvania was born the cruel Wallachian ruler, Vlad the Impaler, who was supposed to turn into a vampire after being beheaded on the battlefield. His nickname, “Dracula”, also gave the name to the writer’s fearful vampire.
So, Bram Stocker considered all these things quite good reasons to place the action of his novel in Transylvania.
Later on, tourists from around the world started to come to Romania in search of Dracula’s castle. Unfortunately, they caught us unprepared as Bram Stocker, never visiting Romania, he wrongly imagined the action in Bistrita, North of Transylvania and not in Bran, South of Transylvania, where the medieval castle was. In Bistrita there was no castle, so tourists turned their attention to another castle. That’s right: Bran castle.
In the meantime, a castle-hotel was built in Bistrita, at Borgo Pass, so now tourists can enjoy seeing both of them.
Bran castle was built by the Saxon colonists in the 14th century as a stronghold at the border between Wallachia in South and Transylvania in North. During the medieval age, it is believed that Vlad the Impaler stayed at the castle once, only as a prisoner.
After WWI, the castle was offered as a gift to Queen Marie of Romania who renovated it and turned it into one of her most beloved dwellings.
So now, you have the yes and no answers to your question.
3. Bran castle, home of a royal heart
As mentioned above, Bran castle became after WWI the summer residence of the romantic Queen Marie of Romania. She was so in love with her new castle and renovated it with care and passion. She spent here only couple of months per year, during the warm summer season as it was too difficult to keep the place warm during winter time. This was when the castle was provided with electricity and other facilities.
When the queen died, in July 1938, her heart was taken from her body and put in a silver box, and this box in a golden box, then placed in Stella Maris chapel, from Balcik, nowadays Bulgarian territory.
In Balcik, the queen built another small dwelling, known as the “Silent Nest”. She spent her childhood with her family in Malta, due to her father’s job, and all her memories were strongly related to the sea. As she spent there some of the happiest years of her life, she always wanted to recreate those times and she succeeded by building a new residence at the Black seaside, at today’s Balcik resort from Bulgaria.
According to the Royal protocol, all the members of the Romanian royal family were buried at Curtea de Arges Monastery. That is why she stated in her will that her heart to be placed after her death in Balcik, so that a piece of her could always rest next to the sea.
The problem occurred after WWII, when Romania lost some territories including Balcik. The Romanian Royal heart could not rest anymore on foreign lands and that is why Ileana, one of the queen’s daughters, took it from there and brought it at Bran castle.
Unfortunately, the communists confiscated the castle and rumors has it that they threw the box with the royal heart in the dungeons of the nowadays National History Museum, in Bucharest. After the communist regime fell, the box with the heart was displayed in the museum, in the National Treasury Exhibition.
In 2015 the heart was brought at Pelisor castle, in Sinaia mountain resort. Pelisor castle was the official summer royal residence of Queen Mary and King Ferdinand and also the place where the queen died. The box with the royal heart can now be seen in the Golden room, one of the queen’s favorite rooms from Pelisor castle, where it can finally rest in peace.
4. The elevator…well
Those who already visited Bran castle could agree with us when saying that a visit at the castle can be a good exercise. There are many stairs to climb, narrow halls, small rooms, typical for a medieval stronghold. Considering the fact that the castle is built on the top of a cliff, the effort of visiting it can increase for those not that active.
That is why, as the queen got old, it became more difficult for her to get to her own castle. Thus, an elevator was built for her, in the medieval well of the castle.
In the interior courtyard, you will see a well. You need to know that this is a copy. The original one is hidden behind some black doors, it was extended with a vertical tunnel and turned into an elevator that led to the royal gardens.
This way, the queen did not have to take all the steps up to reach her apartments in the castle. Clever, isn’t it?
5. Bran castle’s Secret Passage
This is by far the main attraction of the castle, so we can easily say that the secret passage is not that secret anymore.
This passage connects the first floor to the third floor and it was used by the officers to escape in case of emergency.
What people do not know that this passage was quite secret for many centuries, until 1920 when, during the renovation process, a piece of tile from the old fireplace was removed to rearrange the room and thus the passage was discovered. Now, the visit of the castle includes this secret passage and it represents one of the highlights of the experience.
So, here you have them: 5 lesser known facts about Bran castle from Romania. You are free to send us your comments and why not share with us other unknown things about Bran castle.