One of the coolest tourist things I did so far this year was visit Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania, Romania last month. If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Wait! That’s a real place?!?
Well the answer is yes…and no. Transylvania is a historical region in modern day central Romania, Europe. It’s a huge region in the mountains of Romania encompassing multiple cities. One of those mountain cities is Bran, home to Bran Castle, a gothic fortress associated with the legend of Dracula.
As far as we know, there never was an actual historical “Dracula” figure, but this is the only castle in the region that fits the description of Dracula’s Castle in Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Moreover, Romanian history actually notes at one point in its history a blood-thirsty monarch who ruled the region and was famous for his barbaric torture methods. Rumor has it that word spread throughout Europe about this insane Romanian leader, and he was described as a sort of “demon” who was “thirsty for blood.” Well, we think the ancient world’s version of the old telephone game evolved these rumors into what we now know today as Vampires, the mythological creatures who are literally thirsty for blood!
Any way, I found all this fascinating and it was SO, SO, COOL to visit and tour this famous castle. If you’re interested in going yourself one day, it’s only a 2.5 hour drive from the main Romanian city of Bucharest, and it’s a beautiful drive through the mountains where you’ll see plenty of other amazing things along the way. The city of Bran is amazing and the tour of Bran Castle costs about $7. There are day tours available by bus from Bucharest, or you can drive yourself. More insights below!
The outside of the castle is breath-taking and super gothic / creepy feeling, which I loved for some morbid reason. It features an epic water-filled moat. You then hike up this long trail to get to the castle since it literally sits on the top of a rocky cliff. Touring the inside is fascinating, you get to learn about all the various royal figures who have lived there over the years and see artifacts left along the way.
There are plenty of dark corridors and secret passageways (not recommend for those who suffer from claustrophobia!) throughout the castle, and beautiful views of the surrounding village when you get to the top of the towers.
My favorite but almost most horrible part was seeing the torture chamber, which includes actual medieval torture device antiques. I do not envy the poor souls who had to sit in those spiky chair things…YIKES!