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Bran Castle: Dracula’s most visited (fake) home in Romania

Bram Stoker drew on the aesthetics of this castle to create his imaginary castle in ‘Dracula.’

In Romania, near Braşov in Transylvania, is the Bran Castle (Castelul Bran in Romanian). It is a place much frequented by lovers of black tourism, as many believe it was the home of Vlad Tepes himself. However, as surely those who visit this place know (and those who do not find out when they arive), Vlad never lived there. That doesn’t detract from its charm, of course.

On the official website of Bran Castle, where you can also buy your tickets if you decide to venture for a day, it is explained that Bram Stoker’s character, Dracula, is often confused with Vlad Tepes. And although the writer never visited Romania, they do say that he was based on a description of Bran:

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“Bram Stoker never visited Romania. He depicted Dracula’s imaginary castle based on a description of Castle Bran that came into his hands during the turn of the century. Indeed, the imaginary depiction of Dracula’s castle in the sketches of the first edition of ‘Dracula’ is very similar to Castle Bran and no other in all of Romania. It is said that Stoker would have used the illustration of Castle Bran in Charles Boner’s book ‘Transylvania: Its Product and Its People’ to describe his imaginary castle.”

Just because Vlad did not live there does not mean that Bran Castle is devoid of a mysterious vibe. It is said that in the villas around it, there are evil spirits called “steregoi,” which are sort of ghosts of ordinary people whose souls leave their bodies at night and go about tormenting others in their dreams. Regarding Vlad Tepes, although he did not live there, he was somehow related to the castle:

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“Vlad was involved in different campaigns to punish the German merchants of Brasov, who did not comply with the orders related to dealing with Wallachian markets,” they point out. “The passage to Wallachia was through Bran, the closest to Brasov, which connects with Targoviste, the capital of Vlad Tepes (...) The relations with the lords of Bran were not very cordial, as they were representatives of the Citadel of Brasov and hostile towards Vlad. It is not known whether Vlad Tepes captured Bran Castle.”

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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