Vampires used to be cool. Gary Oldman was great in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as were Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire – even old timers like Bella Lugosi portrayed the undead in a far more interesting light than we’ve seen lately. Teenage girls are to blame, and even though I’ve only seen around 15 minutes of a Twilight movie (I have no idea which one) I can tell it’s not for me.
So why am I writing a post about Robert Pattinson, you might be thinking? Well it turns out he’s probably a distant relative of Vlad the Impaler, the bloodthirsty ruler of Wallachia (an area which is now a part of modern day Romania, close to Transylvania), who Bram Stoker most likely based his famous Dracula character on. Also, Bran Castle is advertised as “Dracula’s Castle”, but it seems that Vlad had no ties at all with it, and it isn’t the castle that Bram Stoker describes in his book either – making the link to Robert Pattinson no less tenuous than that of Dracula/Vlad the Impaler (and enough people have written posts about Transylvania which focus on him!).
My girlfriend and I visited Bran Castle on a day trip from Brașov. The bus took around 45 minutes, and even though I’d heard the Dracula link is pretty much totally made up, I was still excited to see my first European castle. As we drew closer the castle came into view, dominating the skyline of Bran, a small town which didn’t seem to have a lot else going for it. It’s a dark, imposing building – the kind of place a brooding teen vampire would love to call home.
The jagged rock base of Bran Castle gives it extra darkness points – I guess you can understand why people advertise it as “Dracula’s Castle” – it’s definitely not hard to imagine a blood drinking immortal monster living there. The outside is more impressive than the interior though – which kinda just looked like someone’s house.
There were a few displays that talked about Vlad the Impaler and how he was supposedly the inspiration for the Dracula character, but the Dracula references are few and far between once you get inside. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but it is a pretty spectacular building and well worth the short trip from Brașov.
A quick internet search revealed that Robert Pattinson shot a film in Hungary, so although I didn’t find him at Bran Castle he was (kind of) in the area at some point, so I guess you could call my search a success. And as for being a relative of Vlad the Impaler, according to this article he’s related to the British Royal family, who in turn have pretty close ties to the royals of Wallachia.
Maybe I did find him after all (or that might be me – we’ll never know…)
As Bran Castle only takes an hour or 2 to explore, we decided to check out the Râșnov Citadel on the way back. The old fortress, which dates back to the 13th Century, is situated around halfway between Brașov and Bran. It’s a bit of a walk from the bus stop to the top of the hill, but the views of the surrounding countryside and the mix of rocky ruins and well restored walls and buildings makes it a great place to wander – and if you visit out of season like we did it’ll be pretty quiet.
Getting to Bran Castle
If you’re coming from Brasov, take a taxi to Autogara 2, where you’ll find a bus that goes on a loop between Brasov, Rasnov and Bran. It leaves every hour or so (more often in the summer) and takes around 45 minutes. The taxi to Autogara 2 (bus station) from the old town in Brasov should cost around 7 Lei, which is also the same price you’ll pay for a one way ticket on the bus. The entry ticket to Bran Castle was 25 Lei and the Rasnov Citadel was 10 Lei ($1USD is about 3.5 Lei).
Have you been to Bran Castle, or any other atmospheric European castles? Let me know!
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