Near the town of Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Brasov, Romania, sits the medieval Bran Castle. This world famous castle is now not only a landmark and national monument but also a source of great pride for the Romanian population who see it as their primary international tourist attraction: The ancient fortification is best known around the world as Castle Dracula. Consider it Romania's version of Disney World, except with a very vampirical edge!
Castle Dracula (Bran's Castle) was built originally in 1212 by the Teutonic Knights as a stronghold. The first written evidence that made reference to Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377. In this act the Saxons of Kronstadt (Brasov) were given the privilege to build the Citadel.
Though it later became a customs post on the mountain pass between Wallachia and Transylvania, Castle Dracula actually started as a defense against the Turks in 1378. Mircea, the Elder of Wallachia, owned the castle for a brief period. Castle Dracula was a royal residence from 1920 to 1948 when the royal family was expulsed by the Communist regime. A medieval arts museum is what Castle Dracula exists as today.
Was this very strange place really Dracula's home? Travelling on Romanian Highway 73 on the frontier between Wallachia and Transylvania, you first see the imposing Castle Dracula which hulks brooding above. Its one of a kind architecture is not the only reason for Castle Dracula's fame, as there have also been unrelenting myths that Vlad III Dracula once lived there. These theories persist despite the lack of supporting evidence. Due to the fact that the Turkish Ottoman Empire occupied the area at the time, most authoritative accounts state that Dracula spent only two days in the Castle Dracula and that was as a prisoner in its dungeon.
Tourists can now visit Castle Dracula and can either participate in a guided tour or embark on a self guided visit. A tiny park hosting cottages and barns and other similar Romanian agricultural structures that were acquired from across the nation sits at the bottom of the hill. This extremely historic and downright spooky location location can certainly claim to be the ultimate Halloween tour.
For many generations Castle Dracula passed through many owners, including royalty. Queen Marie, despite her British nationality became known as a Romanian patriot and it was her principal home at the start of the 20th century. She collected tapestries, heritage furniture and other artifacts during her time to highlight the highly developed local crafts and skills and these now decorate much of the castle. Her daughter, the noble Princess Ileana of Romania inherited it but in 1948, it was later taken over by the Communist government which Romania had at the time. It was left to dilapidate for several decades before it was restored in the 1980s, and just after the 1989 Romanian Revolution Castle Dracula became a sought-after destination for tourists. Could there be a better place to spend Halloween?
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