Bran Castle is located in the Transylvanian region, adjacent to its border with Wallachia, in Romania. Separated from the beautiful city of Brasov by a distance of merely 30 kilometers, Bran Castle is one of the most visited castles in Europe. A Medieval fortress turned castle, Bran Castle sits atop a cliff, and has an imposing presence over the area below and around it. Its four levels hold museum exhibitions, with collections of pottery, furniture, suits of arms, and other weaponry all on display. There is also access to its secret hallways as well.
The castle is a premiere tourist destination for Romania and the world over, due in large to the legend of Dracula which is attached to it, and its association with the Romanian medieval ruler Vlad the Impaler. However, the branding of Bran as Dracula’s castle is said to be a title no more than thirty years old. Nevertheless, castle owners and tourist agencies capitalize on the myth, and people still flock to see it for this very reason, albeit misleading. Forbes placed Bran as the second most expensive property in the world, estimated to be worth around $140 million USD. Though at a considerable distance from the major airports in Timisoara and Bucharest, tourists can easily find buses, trains, and special tourist cars to take them to Bran from major Romanian cities.
Historians have disproved the link between Bran and Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. However, the castle still holds important historical value, as it stands as an iconic historical link to the legacy of Saxon and Hungarian rulers in the region. Unique museum pieces, such as 18th Century canopied bedroom furniture unique to the region, a German Renaissance wooden chest dated to 1692, and a Neo-Rococo 19th Century showcase from the Salon of August Bembe of Mainz, can all be found at Bran. Those interested in supernatural phenomena also visit the castle for its infamous corridors, which many believe to be haunted. The castle grounds also serve as a venue hosting jazz concerts, Halloween parties, and other major events.
Saxon warriors built the initial wooden foundation of Bran in 1225. In 1377, Saxons again sought to build a fortress on the site, and received permission to do so from King Ludovic of Hungary. The fortress passed into the hands of the Hungarian Sigismund, King of Luxemburg, who used it as a strategic military base in 1395, and it remained an important defensive fortress for hundreds of years thereafter. In 1920, Bran was given as a gift to Queen Marie of Romania by officials from the City of Brasov, as a sign of their appreciation for the growth of Romanian lands following World War I. The queen initiated remodeling projects that turned the fortress's appearance more into that of the castle as it is known today.
Bran underwent major revisions in the 1990s after the fall of the Communist government of Romania. However, in 2000, Archduke Dominic von Hapsburg reclaimed the property that his grandmother had received in 1920. The descendents of the Romanian Royal family refurbished the castle, and specialists claim that Bran is in much better shape than when it was state-owned under the Communists. However, the owners placed the castle on the market in 2014, and it remains to be seen who will own Bran in the future. Fortunately, for the time being the annual intake of tourists the castle receives provides more than enough revenues for the upkeep required of such a large and old castle.