Dracula Castle, 13th Century Citadel in Transylvania, Romania

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Bran Dracula Castle wishing well

Dracula Castle wishing well. Photos by Lily Leung.

Ever been curious about the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” novel?

Yesterday, I took a mini 40km expedition to the Bran (“Dracula”) Castle in Transylvania. This is the legendary castle of “Vlad III the Impaler”, who impalled or tortured 40,000 to 100,000 people during his rule in the 15th century over modern day Romania.

The Bran “Dracula” Castle

5 things I learned about Dracula

  • “Vlad III the Impaler” ruled over what is modern day Romania in the 15th century.
  • His father, Vlad II, was a knight in the “Dragon Order”, which protected the empire against Turks. The order’s coat of arms had a dragon on it and Vlad II was nicknamed “Dracul” (the Devil).
  • Vlad III the Impaler signed himself as Draculea, the Devil’s son, and that name later became “Dracula” in Bram Stoker’s novel.
  • During his rule, he impalled, skinned and boiled 40,000 to 100,000 criminals, Turks and conspirers. According to legend there were sometimes forests of stakes with enemies’ heads.
  • Bram Stoker, the Irish writer, read stories these stories, which helped form the character in the “Dracula” novel published in 1897.

Approaching the castle, I expected the atmosphere to be dark, but against clear blue skies, it was far from creepy all. Inside the castle, there were exhibits of furnishings, clothing and information about past castles residents, all crowded by energetic Romanian children on school trips.

I did walk in an unlit secret passage (something I always daydreamed about as a child!) between the first and third floors, but the passage just lead to another room of school kids.

Fortunately, in the week I’ve been in Brasov, I’ve seen no signs of vampires or paranormal creatures, only large stray dogs (maybe werewolves?!)

Dracula Castle from below, Transylvania

Dracula Castle from below, Transylvania

Dracula Castle courtyard view, Bran, Romania

View of Dracula Castle from the courtyard, Bran, Romania

Bran Dracula Castle wishing well

Dracula Castle wishing well. Photos by Lily Leung.

Along the way to the Dracula Castle, we also stopped at the Rasnov Citadel.

Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

The Rasnov Citadel was also built by the “Teutonic Knights” in 1215 (a Catholic order and defended against invading Turks).

Rasnov Citadel and Hollywood sign

Rasnov Citadel and Hollywood sign

Rasnov Citadel courtyard, Transylvania

Inside the Rasnov Citadel courtyard, Transylvania

Lily Leung - view from top of Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

Me at top of Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

Rasnov town, view from top of Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

Rasnov town, view from top of Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

Trees and mountains, outside Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

Trees and mountains, outside Rasnov Citadel, Transylvania

Directions & costs

Admission costs

  • Admission to Bran (Dracula) Castle: 20 lei ($6.75)
  • Admission to Rasnov Citadel: 6 lei ($2.00)

Transportation costs from Brasov

  • Bus from central Brasov to large bus station: 1.5 lei ($0.50)
  • Bus from Brasov to Rasnov: 3.5 lei ($1.20), 25 minutes, 17km
  • Bus from Rasnov to Bran: 3 lei ($1.00), 15 minutes, 15 km
  • Bus from Bran back to Brasov: 6 lei ($2.10), 40 minutes, 40km


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Other resources for Dracula Castle and Rasnov

>> Would you have expected Dracula’s castle to be more scary? Are you curious about visiting Transylvania, Romania? Leave your comments below!

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  • tootsie roll

    i luv hearing about the interesting facts about this…

  • McGov

    The landscape and village are almost as beautiful as you ;)

    • tootsie roll

      very fuunny! i like that

  • Pingback: Dracula at Bran Castle, Bran – Romania | Nomadic Notes Travel Blog

  • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

    It doesn’t look creepy at all – maybe at night? Are you allowed to go inside at all?

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Yup, you could go inside for about $7 and it wasn’t dark or scary inside either. It felt just like a regular castle and having lots of energetic school kids inside actually gave the castle an energetic and happy vibe. Not very Dracula-ish at all!
      - Lily

    • tootsie roll

      wondering that too.

  • Peng Leong1

    Lovely photos 

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thank you!

      - Lily

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  • http://twitter.com/swgraphic Sarah Wu

    This part reminded me of Florence maybe because of the red roof lol.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      I actually found some of the buildings in Florence, like the Duomo, creepier than this castle. Just goes to show that we have lots of dark imagination/expectations :)

      - Lily

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  • Jacs_13

    Not what I pictured that castle to look like at all!  The imagination is a great thing, right?!  One of my fav books! Thanks for posting, must have been a great experience! 

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Oh yes, this just goes to show how powerful our imaginations are! I expected a dark, creepy castle, with a moat, and storm clouds above it… and got a castle full of happy school kids, a well-manicured green lawn and sunny blue skies instead. Still lovely though, and certainly makes for nice photos :)

      - Lily

      • badge®

        Lily, in fact there are many nights where you can find the Bran Castle like that, with black clouds over it and the moon shining. At that moment, you’ll probably look after a werewolf around … but all of these are, of course, just stories.
        The truth is that the castle served in the past as custom building between Muntenia and Transylvania (both of regions are included today into romanian territory) and has nothing to do with creepy creatures, not even with Dracula. But the land and villages around are awesome and next time I recommend you to stay a night there. Bran area is one of the best touristic spots in Romania.

        Congratulations for you blog and gook luck in your future trips!
        Greetings from Romania :)

      • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

        Hi Badge,

        I’m secretly relieved that it was good weather when I went to the Bran Castle, else I might have been scared, especially since I was by myself! I really enjoyed Romania and would consider visiting again in the future, so thanks for your suggestion of staying in Bran next time. :)

        Thanks for stopping by my blog!
        - Lily

  • Anonymous

    I echo Runaway Britt’s sentiments about the book.  The beginning is especially brilliant.  Jonathan Harker comes to Transylvania to meet with the Count and close a real estate deal for Dracula to buy property in London.  The first 60 pages consists of a journal from Harker.  His travel blog is much more terrifying than yours, but he fails to give useful information like the costs and how to get there, so your blog compliments his.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Ted,

      I think the witty comment of the month goes to you for –> ”His travel blog is much more terrifying than yours, but he fails to give useful information like the costs and how to get there, so your blog compliments his.”

      I almost choked on my hash brown at McDonald’s (Budapest) when I read it this morning!

      - Lily 

      • Anonymous

        Lily,

        I would have felt terrible if I would have read “Famous Toronto Travel Blogger chokes after reading comment.”  Glad to hear you survived and more great posts like this are coming our way.

  • http://www.nomadicnotes.com/ James Clark

    Great post, Lily. I plan to go there later this year if they let me in the country (but that’s another story). To complete the Dracula theme go to Whitby in the North of England.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks for the Whitby recommendation. What’s the story behind why they wouldn’t let you into the country? Let’s hear it! 

  • http://www.runawaybrit.com Runaway Brit

    I would love to visit here as I am an avid Dracula fan (great book!) although it looks far from creepy in your pictures. Maybe I should visit on a stormy day? If you’re interested in all things Dracula/Vlad you should read ‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Elaine, thanks for the book recommendation. Just read the overview on Wikipedia and will have a look for it when I get home. Visiting on a cloudy day would probably help, but I think what I appreciate more now is how strong the imagery the book (and other vampire media) has left on the world, changing our expectations of how a historical monument should look/feel. Dracula was indeed a good novel.

      - LilyP.S. Just followed your blog on Twitter and Facebook

  • http://www.onmywayrtw.com Megan

    This looks really cool. I’d heard from a friend it was a little disappointing for Dracula fans though – like you said, it looks far from creepy :) And that was one book that really and truly creeped me out! 

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Megan, I did expect the castle to be a bit bigger and darker, but that’s probably just mental projections based on the level of creepiness the book and other vampire material (can you say True Blood?!). The castle did have a lot of metal doors and staircases that were bolted up, so those could have been juicier parts of the castle that aren’t available to the public… maybe that’s where they keep the coffins! (*dun dun dun*)

      - Lily