Bran Castle is easily the most famous landmark in Romania. Its hidden passages, narrow staircases, and haunted atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for any tourist. It’s one of the main reasons Transylvania kept its mystical and occult image throughout the years.
When planning trips to Romania, include a 3-day journey in medieval Transylvania. Book the tour today.
Beyond being the inspiration behind the “Dracula” novel by Bram Stoker, Bran Castle, and the surrounding area, have a larger and impressive heritage. Let’s learn more about its incredible history.
Bran Castle History
The perched hilltop always offered a great viewpoint, even before the Bran Castle was there. It is probably the main reason why in 1211 the Teutonic Knights built the first fortress on the grounds.
They had received the lands from King Andrew II of Hungary, so they could defend the Southeastern border of the Transylvania region and the Hungarian empire. From 1226 to 1377, the fortress was abandoned.
At the end of 1377, the Hungarian King Louis I of Anjou granted the people of Brasov, the right to build a castle. He also urged the Saxons of the region to aid in building it. Their influence is seen all over the architecture of the building.
In 1388 Bran fortress was finished, and officially received the name it has today. Besides its importance in defending the border against the Ottoman Empire, it was also a customs point.
Most of the goods that were transferred in and out of Transylvania would pass through the area.
Some other important historical details surrounding the building include:
- Between 1407-1419 Bran Castle was given to Mircea the Elder the ruler of Walachia. To have a northern fortress where they could retreat during the Turkish wars.
- In 1441 Iancu de Hunedoara defeated Turks here.
- Vlad the Impaler became an ally of the region in his first reign. Later on, he entered a conflict with the Saxon community in the area and burned the suburban areas of Brasov.
- In 1651 George II Rackoczi sold the mansion to the people of Brasov.
- In 1920, the Brasov city council decided to give the mansion to Queen Marie.
Throughout the years the building has been affected by its numerous uses. These included military, administration and customs purposes. It even housed foresters, woodsmen and forest inspectors when they came to the area.
The reason the landmark is still open for visitation today is because of the effort put into the restoration. The most important ones were done by the Romanian Royal Family in changing it into one of their residences.
An elevator was even included in the well shaft to give easy access to Queen Marie from the park to the building. She was suffering from arthritis which made it difficult for her to walk up the hill.
After Queen Marie died the residence became the property of her daughter, Princess Ileana. In 1956, after the Romanian royal family had to flee the country, the communist regime decided to transform Bran Castle into a museum. Not much money was invested in restoring and upkeeping of the building until 1987.
After many years, in 2009 the building was given back to Princess Ileana legal heirs, namely Archduke Dominic, Archduchess Maria Magdalena, and Archduchess Elisabeth.
The Bran Castle Tour
Here at TravelMaker, we offer many tours in which you can visit this particular destination. You’ll have the opportunity to learn even more about its history and legends. Book today one of these tours to see it for yourself:
Our shared tours are for up to 16 people. We will meet up in front of the Romanian Athenaeum. We can also pick you up in front of the hotel you are staying at, in Bucharest, for an extra fee. From there we will drive by minibus to all the destinations on the tour you booked.
The guides that will present you the landmarks are friendly and professional. They are fluent in English and can answer any questions you have about Dracula’s Castle. Audio guides are also available in Spanish, Italian and French, from your mobile phone.
When booking the tour let us know if you need the audio guide in any of the languages mentioned above, so we can send you the app installation details beforehand.
The winding path up the hill will take you to the incredible building. From the entrance, we will have many stairs to go up and down, so keep that in mind for your kids or if you have a disability.
A private tour might help you more in this situation. We’d have all the time in the world to visit the haunted castle.
The whole tour will take around an hour. You’ll get to learn more about how the building was created, who owned it and its importance in the area.
After the tour is over, depending on the schedule, we’ll see the next attractions, stay overnight in one of the medieval cities or take you back to your accommodation in Bucharest.
Opening Hours and Schedules
Like most attractions in Romania, the touristic attraction has a low and a high season. Based on it, the schedules for visitation are different.
In the low season, between the 1st of October to 31st of March, the schedule is:
- Monday: 12 PM – 4 PM
- Tuesday – Sunday: 9 AM – 4 PM
- Last Admission: 4 PM
In the high season, between the 1st of April to the 30th of September, Bran is open:
- Monday: 12PM – 6 PM
- Tuesday – Sunday: 9 AM – 6 PM
- Last Admission: 6 PM
Bran Castle Price: Tickets and Events
In our TravelMaker tours, your Entrance fees are included in the price of the tour. So you don’t have to worry about that, once we arrive at Bran.
The ticket prices are reasonable:
- For adults: 40Lei (8.5€)
- Seniors (65+): 30Lei (6.5€)
- Students: 25Lei (5.5€)
- Children: 10Lei (2 €)
- School groups (>20 ppl): 5Lei (1€)
All disabled or institutionalized guests get free access. Also, children under 7 years get free access. For the discounted tickets you will need your ID to prove you are over 65 years or the Student ID.
All the access tickets include amateur photography and taking videos. For professional photography or videography, a signed contract is needed and a custom offer will be created by the museum administration.
Tickets bought on the premises are good for the day. If you’d like, you can buy tickets in advance from the official site.
On the first weekend after Halloween, each year a party is hosted. Besides the specific decor you’ll also get:
- Spooky music
- A scary tour of the attraction
- Dim lights
- Meeting Count Dracula and his friends
- Candy for the kids
- Red wine for adults.
Even if you can take your kids trick-or-treating in the haunted tour of the mansion, the real party is only for adults.
The party takes place in a tent in the Royal Park. Everyone will be showing off their costumes and enjoying their time until the early hours of the morning.
For a more romantic experience, you can buy a ticket for the Halloween Gourmet Dinner at Bran Castle’s Restaurant that starts at 19.
Back in 2016, the fortress was host to an even more incredible event. Based on Airbnb contest, the winners enjoyed:
- A horse-drawn carriage ride
- A private tour of the Castle held by Bram Stocker’s great grand-nephew
- A spooky candlelit dinner
- and Sleeping in two comfy coffins.
Bran Castle Accommodation
If you plan on spending a night or two in the area we’d suggest you consider the 3-day tour into Transylvania. We’d show you Bran Castle and also other incredible tourist attractions including:
- Curtea de Argeș Monastery
- Cozia Monastery
- Historical Sibiu Center
- Biertan Fortified church
- Sighisoara Medieval town
- Mountain resort Sinaia
- Peles Castle.
In the price of the tour, you have an overnight stay in Sibiu and one in Brasov, at 3-star hotels. Breakfast is also included.
If you’d rather stay in Bran, there are numerous great accommodation here as well. We’ll mention just two here.
Conacul Törzburger (The Törzburger Manor)
It’s only 500 meters away from the fortress and it offers all the amenities. Their rooms come with:
- Flat-Screen TVs
- Private bathrooms
- Free Wi-Fi Connection
The manor also has a restaurant and a bar, which means you can also choose a buffet breakfast here. It also features a garden and there are numerous non-smoking rooms.
For a double room, their prices are around 90 € per night. It’s one of the best-rated accommodations around this destination, so you should consider it.
A great alternative for accommodation in the area is Hanul Bran. The hotel has a large restaurant with a medieval-themed hall. They offer many traditional local dishes.
The rooms have spectacular views of the Bucegi mountains or the Bran Castle. They offer everything you might need in your holiday room :
- Carpeted floors
- Private bathrooms with showers, hairdryers, and free toiletries
- Free Wi-Fi
- Cable TV
The prices start at 37 € per night. You can even get them at a lower price if you book in advance.
Bran Castle Facts
The citadel near Brasov is known for many things. Here is a shortlist of the most fascinating facts about the haunted fortress:
1. A drawing that inspired a novel
Even if we know that Bram Stoker never visited Romania, the description he depicts in the “Dracula” novel sounds like the Transylvanian fortification. Even the etching in the first edition of the novel is extremely similar.
It is believed that he was inspired from afar by the fortress. There were tourist materials in England promoting visiting Romania, especially this area, at the time. It is also possible he might have used the illustration of Bran Castle from Charles Boner’s book, “Transylvania: Its Product and Its People”, (London: Longmans, 1865) to represent Dracula’s home.
2. The name that inspired a legend
We don’t have any confirmation that the Irish author based the iconic Dracula character on Vlad the Impaler. Just one thing is certain. Count Dracula took his name from Vlad the Impaler.
There are many things that the ruler and the fictional character had in common. They were both:
- Cruel with people that wronged them
- Called bloodthirsty either because they drank the blood, or for killing enemies in a way that drained their blood.
Vlad the Impaler was the ruler of Walachia, the region found in the south of Bran. He inherited the throne from his father Vlad II commonly know as Vlad “Dracul”. In translation “Dracul” means “The devil”, but people called him that cause of the Dragon sign he wore on his clothes.
He was part of the Crusader Order of the Dragon and he wanted everyone to know that. As the dragon is not a common Romanian symbol, the people at the time considered that it represented the devil.
As Vlad the Impaler was his son, once he became part of the Order, the people called him the little devil, which was “Drăculea”. From this name, it’s easy to see how Bram Stoker got the name of the famous fictional character: Count Dracula.
3. Vlad the Impaler’s grandfather owned Bran Castle
Many historians have a problem with Bran Castle being associated with Vlad Tepeș, as there is no proof he lived there. Some believe he was kept there as a prisoner for a short while by the Transilvanian ruler Matei Corvin.
There is however a lot of historical merit for the fact that Mircea the Elder was offered this fortification from 1407 until his death in 1418. The Hungarian king offered the fortress as a place where the ruler of Wallachia and his army can retreat.
For many years the Hungarian empire was threatened by the Turkish forces and the border of the Empire was in this area. Offering the Castle was given as an incentive for Mircea the Elder to keep on fighting the Turkish armies.
Mircea the Elder was followed to the throne of Wallachia by his son Vlad the Dragon and then his grandson Vlad the Impaler. But Bran Castle did not remain in the property of the family. The Hungarian king took it back in 1419 while the political climate in Wallachia was unsure.
4. The Bran Castle is £47million
In 2014, the owners of the fortress wanted to sell it. The price they asked for was £47million. The history and the legends around the landmark bring more than 560,000 visitors every year.
Archduke Dominic von Habsburg, a descendant of the Romanian Royal family has taken good care of the castle. Just like his family did before him. The main restoration projects of the main mansion and the added buildings on the lands have all been made under the careful eye of the Royal family.
Queen Marie’s heart is even found in the crypt on the grounds. This is just one reason why the Archduke and his family care about the landmark. They would accept a reasonable offer, but they want to know the plan for the future of Bran Castle alongside it.
5. Archduke Dominic von Habsburg would like it to not be known as “Dracula’s Castle”
One of the owners of the property and the main investor is not that happy about the connection between Transylvania and the original vampire.
In a Vanity Fair interview from 2017, he was addressing a rhetorical question:
“Why would anyone want to focus on an invention, when it had its own rich history?”
At 81 years now, the archduke has spent his childhood in this residence with his Grandmother Queen Marie. He never associated his former home with dark creatures and spooky stories.
The association between Bran Castle and Count Dracula started getting traction in the 1980s, the last years of communist Romania. Back then the travel agencies started promoting the story over and over again to get more international tourists visiting the location.
6. Queen Marie’s heart is kept to this day at Bran Castle
From 1920 after Queen Marie received the castle, she put in restoration efforts to make it a royal summer residence. It became her home and she personalized it for her needs and tastes.
This included making the grounds into an English Park with a tea house and two ponds. She also added an elevator to make her climb to her residence much easier.
After her death in 1938, she left Bran Castle to her daughter Princess Ileana. In 1940, after Romania lost the South Danube territories, Queen Marie’s heart was taken from the Stella Maris Chapel of the Balchik’s palace on the Black Sea.
The Queen’s heart was placed in a silver box inside an ornate box, wrapped in the flags of Romania and Great Britain and placed in a marble sarcophagus. After 1940, the sarcophagus was brought to Bran and is still found in the carved tomb in the mountain, on the north side of the wall.
Bran Castle Images
To have an idea of what Bran Castle has to offer. Here is a short gallery of pictures to help you decide on booking one of our tours.
We believe you’ll enjoy all the aspects of this unforgettable destination:
- The architecture
- The incredible views
- The unique furniture
- The secretly haunted staircases
- The medieval feel
All of these aspects will give you a reason to visit Romania again.
How to Get to Bran Castle?
Just book the tour and we’ll take care of it. That’s the short and easy answer for you. We’ll take the whole group to Bran Castle by car or minivan. It usually takes around 3 hours to get there from Bucharest.
This well-known destination is also surrounded by ski resorts in the area. That means that during weekends and the cold season, driving from Bucharest to Bran can take longer than expected.
Driving there is the best option but not the only one. You can take the train from Bucharest to Brasov, the nearest city. The closest train stops are in Zărnești and Râșnov, but you might not find anyone speaking English in the area to give you directions or help you find a cab. Near these two train stops, some busses can take you.
The ride from Bucharest to Brasov takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. A ticket is around 50 RON (10.5€). If you buy it online you will get a 5% discount.
Once you arrive in Brasov, you’ll have to take either a cab or bus. The bus stop is far away from the train station and leaves every 30 minutes during the week or once an hour, on weekends.
The bus ticket is only 7 RON but you’ll have a lot of walking and waiting at the station. The cab can cost up to 80 RON.
But the great advantage is that you can choose our tour and you don’t have to worry about this. We’ll take care of the transportation and it’s all included in the tour price.
Bran Castle Interior
More than a medieval chateau for royal families, Bran Castle was built as a defensive stronghold. You can see that in its incredible exterior and its wooden interior details.
It has 57 rooms, a secret passageway that takes you to the terrace below the watchtower. On the grounds Queen Marie built:
- a guesthouse,
- a wooden church,
- staff housing,
- stables and a garage.
Most of these buildings are used today for housing the restaurant, tea house, and souvenir shops.
The Saxons of the region that helped build the initial fortification have left their mark. The wooden beams on the white walls and the dark woodgrains complementing the shape of the windows are familiar to their architectural style.
Even if the interior rooms seem simple there are precious unique details in each room. The layout of the rooms and the many small nooks and crannies make it interesting.
There are rounded, ornate and geometrical patterns on small windows. They let sunlight play on opposite walls and create texture in the Bran Castle interiors.
The furniture inside is deemed for a king. Many of the bookcases were custom made for space. They have numerous details of handcrafted figures and painted panels. The terracotta stoves have painted motifs. Each room has a different style and story on the fireplace.
Come and be inspired by this simple but elegant architecture style. We will guide you through the castle and answer all your questions.
The interior courtyard with the well, the outside towers and terraces offer incredible views of the mountains and the region. There are many winding stairs to go up and down to see all the corners of the Bran Castle.
Visit Bran Castle
This is all you need to know about the most famous landmark in Romania. The reason why it’s known is what connects the Transylvania region to all the vampire stories. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Find out for yourself by booking our tours today. You can enjoy up to 3-days in this mystical medieval region of Europe.
If you are interested in top things to do and see in Transylvania read more about it in this article.