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  • Writer's pictureHilary McCormack

Bran's Castle Transylvania, Romania

Updated: Jan 11

The Transylvania region in Central Romania boasts medieval towns, mountainous borders, and grand castles such as Bran Castle, the Gothic fortress associated with the legend of Dracula, and the ornate Summer Palace of King Carol I.

The nearby city of Brașov features Saxon walls and bastions, the expansive Council Square, ringed by colorful baroque buildings, the towering Gothic Black Church, and a plethora of modern Romanian-style cafes. The nearby Poiana Brașov is a popular ski resort during the winter months.

Bran Village in Transylvania

This whole region has so much to offer and explore that it is hard to believe I covered it at a galloping speed over three days in September.

My trip began in Bucharest, a city that could easily be defined in terms of the old and the new. We stayed in the new part just off Boulevard Dimitrie Pompeiua and took the metro to explore the old part of the city on foot.

Grand palace built in the 1890s, during the reign of King Carol I, to house Romania's high courts

The city is very easy to navigate, and we found most of the historical sites are situated in the old town area, which is lovely to amble around in the September sun.

Admission prices to historical sites are very reasonable, and many of the beautiful churches do not charge anything to enter and spend some time marveling at their beauty and taking photographs of the intricate alfresco and Sistine paintings that adorn their interior walls.

"Saint Anthony" Church is a wonderful orthodox church with many great icons in side it and free to visit.

Given the significant number of museums and Orthodox churches to visit, two days in Bucharest would have been a better allocation of our time to allow us to see more and spread out from the old town to follow the river westward to see some of the city's green spaces, the Opera House, and the Botanical Gardens.

Our tour guide, Andrei, collected us at 8 a.m. from the hotel on day three for the three-hour scenic drive each way to Transylvania.

Andrei, a historian by trade, was a fortunate find; in excellent English, he guided us through the history of the area we were visiting. Our first stop was the Summer Palace of King Carol I of Romania. The Castle of Pelles is located in the beautiful small town of Sinaia, about 130 kilometers north of Bucharest.

The area is well worth an overnight stay of its own; such is the charm of the town and the natural beauty of the area. However, I think a visit in the off-season would be better as the place was packed with busloads of international tourists.

The Summer Palace of King Carol I. The Castle of Pelles, located in the beautiful Sinaia

The next stop was the much anticipated Brans Castle, originally the home of Vlad the Impaler. Vlad III Dracula was a Walachia's voivode or prince. Walachai was part of modern Romania. Surrounded by enemies that included a considerable number of foes, including the Hungarians, the Ottomans, his younger brother, and the Walachian nobility, Vlad employed ruthless measures to inspire fear in those who tried to oppose him. He earned his nickname by impaling his enemies on stakes in plain sight for all to see around the area.

This tale might not have entered modern imagination had it not been thanks to Abraham (Bram) Stoker, an Irish author who wrote the Gothic horror novel Dracula in 1897.

Stoker, who had never been to Romania, borrowed the likeness for the Count in his book from Vlad III Dracula. Derived from Latin, the word Dracula means son of the dragon.

"Count Dracula" was written in the 1890s and extensively drawn from Transylvanian folklore and history. Stoker conducted much of his research on "Dracula" in a library in Central London.

Courtyard of Bran Castle

In 1920, the local people gifted Queen Maria of Romania the Castle. It became her preferred residence, and she personally oversaw the restoration and arrangement of the Castle for the use of her family. The Royal family played a significant role in making the Castle accessible to the public today.

Tea Gardens of Bran Castle

In 2022, Bran Castle welcomed over 720000 visitors, drawn to this royal abode that inspired the globally renowned Gothic novel Dracula. Despite its intriguing history, the Castle is illuminated with its own warm charm and beauty.

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Trip Tips:

Flights from Riyadh on Wizz Air 100 US Dollars

Hotel Courtyard by Marriott 65 Euros per night

Private Tour in Car with english speaking guide Andrei 150 Euros per person (prices vary by group size)

Access to The Castle of Pelles 10 Euros

Access to Bran's Castle 10 Euros

Shopping Promenade Mall

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