The first thing I wanted to do when I booked my trip to Romania was to organise a day trip to Transylvania. I’m sure everyone has heard of Dracula, but the inspiration behind the story is less well-known outside of Romania. Bram Stoker is said to have based the legend of Dracula on Vlad the Impaler, a medieval Romanian prince who was known for being a ruthless and blood-thirsty ruler. As his name suggests, his preferred method of torture was through impaling, where he would let his victims die an excruciatingly painful death that could take days to finally finish them off. Unlike Dracula, Vlad was not known to drink his victims’ blood, but he still had a tremendous thirst for their agony and is said to have eaten meals beside his dying victims. It is estimated that he killed approximately 40,000 people during his reign of terror.
Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s castle is based in Bran, Transylvania. It’s located just under 3 hours away from the capital, Bucharest. Is it worth the day trip? Absolutely! The roads there are worn and winding but the views are fantastic.
Located on top of a rocky hill, you can see why this castle is thought to have been the inspiration for Dracula’s castle. We visited on an overcast, rainy day which really added to the moody atmosphere of the place.
The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
– Extract from Dracula.
The real shame about Bran Castle is that its connection to the Dracula story is only skin deep. Vlad was never recorded to have stayed here, and it’s likely he only visited on a handful of occasions, if at all. However, I have no regrets about visiting – this should be on everyone’s list of things to see when in Romania.
The castle entry was 35 lei (approx. £6.50) and unless you’ve got access to a car you’re looking at a £50 – £100 tour to get there. (£100 tours are crazy. Please shop around if you’re going to do this- even if you don’t book in advance there are plenty advertised around Bucharest so you’re guaranteed to find a good one). I’ll be honest with you, our day trip was a bit of a disaster. The tour wasn’t amazing but I had a great time because of the camaraderie and because of the surroundings. I wasn’t going to let one poor tour guide ruin my whole day. The castle is definitely worth a visit, just maybe don’t ask me to give you a recommendation for a tour company!
The place is rich in history, and as I said before the views are spectacular. I enjoyed reading about Romanian History as well as the story of Dracula. My favourite area of the castle was the balcony surrounding the inner courtyard. It’s extremely beautiful and a great place to take photos. I’m going to write a few articles on my trip to Romania, so check them out for more information on what to see and do!