If you ever find yourself on the hunt for the world’s most famous vamp, chances are you’ll be making a soul seeking trip to the realms of Transylvania at some point in your search.
Nestled in the craggy comfort of the Carpathian Mountains, Bran Castle is undoubtedly the one place which has brought most fan(g) boys and girls to the heaving bosom of hilly Romania – largely due to its associations with Wallachian wunderkind, Vlad the Impaler. But, where bloodthirsty enthusiasts might not quite count this location among the most rewarding of finds, they’ll likely still leave with a sense of satisfaction.
With around half a million curious callers paying a visit here each year, there’s little chance you’ll suddenly find yourself creeping around the creaky corridors alone, and the most frightening things on show are probably the prices attached to the ostentatious souvenirs on the stalls outside the keep. There’s plenty to poke at the imagination though and walking through the surprisingly claustrophobic accommodation –with its opulently Gothic rooms and archaic antechambers – will absolutely give some guests the spine-tingle they desire.
It’s worth noting that not every aspect of this site is geared towards the macabre Master of Darkness, no matter how much the tourist brochures go to bat for it. The softer side of the castle is dedicated to the lasting memory of royal figures like the much loved Queen Maria, whose heart is supposedly buried in a box somewhere in the grounds, so she could ever be near to the home she loved most. Her influence over the stronghold’s delightful décor and eye for the finer details are listed among the most welcome surprises by those who step inside…but, then again, who wants a weaved tapestry when there’s some serious looking medieval weaponry waiting in the next room?
It’s a very strange thing to think that the two most significant figures in the entirety of Dracula’s sanguine-soaked legend barely even associated with this place. Bram Stoker didn’t step foot in Romania once during his lifetime, choosing his source of inspiration instead from another literary description he happened to read when researching his most famous work (though you will find the accuracy of his depiction scarily exact). And far from being the household of the spike-wielding scourge of the Ottoman Empire, Bran’s now defunct dungeons served as a cell for the rampaging Vlad Tepes for a maximum, some think, of two weeks. But no matter what might have brought you here – higher calling or cheap hotel deal – you’ll find that this much mythologised attraction, despite a distinct lack of Drac, definitely doesn’t suck.