Perched high upon on a steep cliff, this national Romanian landmark is surrounded in Gothicness, intrigue and immortalisation
In 1377, the Hungarian King Louis the Great issued a document granting to the Brasov people the ‘privilege’ of building a castle. Through this document, the Saxons of Transylvania (from the region encompassing Brasov) were encouraged to participate in the building of Bran Castle. The castle was completed in 1388.
Built on a steep cliff between Măgura and Dealul Cetăţii (the town’s fortified hill), the building was used in an attempt to stop the Ottoman Empire’s expansion, as it stood at the Eastern border of Transylvania.
Jump forward to 1459, and the infamous Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) was requested to handle the anti-Ottoman resistance at the border.
However, in order to settle a conflict between the Wallachia Voivode and the Saxons, who requested higher customs taxes, Tepes’ army passed through Bran and attacked Brasov, burning the city’s suburbs and murdering hundreds of Saxons from Transylvania.
After 14 years of imprisonment, Vlad the Impaler was set free in 1476 at the insistence of Stefan the Great, ruler of Moldavia.
With Transylvanian and Moldavian support, Tepes reached Walachia determined to reclaim his throne. After winning a battle near Bucharest, his reign was short-lived as he died in a confrontation with another contender to the Walachian throne.
Bran Castle lost its military and commercial might in 1836, after the border between Transylvania and Wallachia was moved to the mountains. While Bran ceased to be a border and customs point of Austro-Hungary, the castle continued to be an administrative seat.
After 1918, Transylvania became part of Greater Romania and in 1956, the castle was transformed by communist authorities into a museum.
The museum had three departments: the castle (containing pieces of royal heritage), the medieval customs and Ethnography (traditional houses in the park near the castle).
Bram Stoker’s Transylvanian Count character, Dracula, lives in a with a castle located high above a valley perched on a rock with a flowing river below in the Principality of Transylvania. As Bran Castle is the only castle in Transylvania that fits Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle, it is known globally as ‘Dracula’s Castle’.
The mythical creature of Dracula is often confused with Vlad the Impaler, who was sometimes known as Vlad Dracul.
How to get there
Bran Castle is located at the entrance to the Rucăr – Bran passage, on the road connecting Braşov to Câmpulung, overtowered by the peaks of the Bucegi and the Piatra Craiului Mountains.
Driving: Bran is less than 30 km far from Braşov, when following the national route 73, which leaves Braşov by its West end, through the Bartolomeu district.
From Brasov, head northwest to Rasnov on DN73/E574, continue straight to Bran, castle will be on the left.
Taxi: You can get a taxi to Bran Castle from Bucharest from Otopeni-Bucharest Airport. There’s a taxi station right in front of the international arrivals. A trip costs €80 and takes around 2.5hrs.
From Brasov to Bran, Bratax.ro provides a taxi service that takes 35mins and costs around €20.
From Bucharest, head north on DN1/E60, pass by Ploiesti, continue to follow DN1/E60, after Azuga turn left on DN73A, at Rasnov turn left onto DN73/E574, drive 10KMs and Bran Castle will be on the left.
Train: From Bucharest Nord Gara A, the train journey to Brasov takes around 3hrs 25min and costs €10 pp. From Brasov, you need to catch a bus or taxi to the castle.
Bus: To catch a bus to the castle, leave from bus terminal No. 2 Brasov, which is a regular service (Route DN73/E574) between Brasov and Bran – Moeciu. The bus departs every 30 mins and every hour on the weekends. The journey takes around 45mins and costs €1.50 pp.
Opening hours and prices
Between 1 April – 30 September (high season) the castle is open:
Monday: 12PM – 6PM
Tue–Sun: 9AM – 6PM
Last admission: 6PM
Between 1 October – 31 March (low season) the castle is open:
Monday: 12PM – 4PM
Tue–Sun: 9AM – 4PM
Last Admission: 4PM
An adult ticket costs €8.50. You can buy tickets from here: https://bilete.castelulbran.ro/en/
There are special Halloween tickets to include dim lighting, spooky music and meeting Count Dracula. You can also buy a combo ticket that includes a night tour and party.
Just outside of the castle are a number of food stalls selling hot dogs and drinks etc.
If you want something fancier or more substantial, Casa de ceai is a restaurant sitting at the bottom of the castle. Here you can eat everything from Romanian soups to dishes originating from different villages.
The restaurant opens at 9am (Tues-Sun) and 12pm (Mon). It shuts at 7pm (Mon, Tues-Thurs and Sun) and 9pm (Fri-Sat).
If you have time…
A visit to the Prejmer Fortified Church (UNESCO World Heritage Site) should not be missed.
The largest fortified church in southeastern Europe, the fortification was built by Teutonic knights in 1212-1213, with walls that are 40 feet high and 10-15 feet thick.
11 miles southwest of Brasov, the fortress was besieged 50 times and encompasses drawbridges and a subterranean passage where food supplies were transported.
Each family in the village had a designated room for shelter in case of attack linked by wooden staircases.
Opening hours and prices
Visiting Hours (Program de Vizitare Cetatea Prejmer):
1 May – 31 October
Monday – Friday: 9AM – 6PM
Saturday: 9AM – 5PM
Sunday: 11AM – 5PM
1 November 1 to 30 April
Monday – Saturday: 9AM – 4PM
Sunday: 11AM – 4PM
Admission: 15 Lei.
Checking out C & J.