Also available in Romanian
When arriving at Bran Castle, I had to resist the lure of souvenir stands that catch every tourist’s eye. After a stroll in the garden and a short break to take some photos I climbed up to the castle. At first sight, the castle seems rather shabby and it is obvious that the building needs external repair. However, I found great enjoyment in visiting the beautiful rooms of the castle. Even though the furniture is not original, every piece of it is in perfect harmony with the white walls and the colours of carpets, fireplaces and costumes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the historical figure of Queen Mary is highlighted particularly well by way of paintings, explanatory panels and personal costumes. In addition, a movie room was set up for the purpose of viewing pictures capturing the most remarkable events in the timeline of the Romanian monarchy. The garden is also worth visiting, the roses will definitely catch your eye. The Wishing Well is lovely, but tourists would do a good thing if they drop more coins and less banknotes in it. Do you really think that the uttered wish will come true more rapidly if you throw a higher value banknote? Allow me to disagree with you. Once you get out of the castle, I can assure you that you won’t be able to avoid the souvenir stands. Moreover, you won’t leave empty-handed as you’ll find numerous interesting handmade items. I would have been happier to find more souvenirs related to a larger extent to Queen Mary than to Dracula, but it seems that the aggressive marketing is a must for nowadays sellers.
The same as many other buildings across Europe, the history of Bran Castle is written in its architecture. Therefore, I think that an overview of the castle’s history is necessary in order to uncover its secrets. Initially, in the 15th century, the castle had a military role, as it served to keep watch over the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, at a time when the Ottoman expansion was increasingly threatening. Over the course of time, the castle belonged to the Hungarian kings, the inhabitants of Braşov and Queen Mary of Romania. The current structure of the castle is attributable to Queen Mary. According to her wish, architect Karel Liman initiated and completed a series of structural changes that turned an inhospitable feudal building into a romantic, modern and comfortable dwelling, surrounded by outhouses and a park, just like any other castle. Built on an impressive rock, the same as Castillo de Loarre and Guadalest (Spain), it already had a solid structure, cylindrical and rectangular towers, rooms, a courtyard, a prison, a secret passage, gun holes for defensive purposes and stairs. The gothic style largely influenced the new castle architecture. Thus, loggias, terraces, apartments with bedrooms, elegant halls, passages, corridors, a chapel and a kitchen were built in addition to the attics. The Fachwerk style used in Germany as well as in several parts of France added beautiful architectural details to the castle. Wood was extensively used: ceilings (some with painted beams), carved doors (one of which is also painted), floors at different levels, winding stairs, and pillars reminiscent of typical Romanian homes are all made of this building material.
After being returned to its legal owners (2009), the castle was refurbished. Wood remained the main building material, as revealed by the richly carved furniture, the niches of the small windows and the fireplaces where you could sit and contemplate the outside view or listen to the crackling fire. I’ve seen many ceilings and pieces of furniture before, yet I am particularly fond of the fireplaces at Bran Castle due to their originality as well as to the fact that they embody the idea of a cozy place where you can rest, read or, in other words, feel comfortable. The furniture, decorative objects and carpets belong to different countries and ages, constituting an eclectic group of highly valuable items, which, together with photographs, are representative for the culture, intelligence, refinement and sensitivity of Queen Mary.
The poetic atmosphere, the call to play (the castle has so many hiding places), the proportionate room sizes, the good quality of all objects on display made me feel nostalgic about the times when Romania had a queen, an example of decency and courtesy, who was related to the European monarchies. This private museum meets all the contemporary standards applicable to such buildings and the additional rehabilitation works will restore the beauty of the castle which is a great place where tourists can spend enjoyable moments.
Here you can find more information about the opening hours and ticket prices.
Romanian version: Alina, Ghiocel
English version: Lorena Drăghici