So who was Dracula?

Was he real ? or he is just the invention of a great novelist?

Well the answer is very simple. There are two Draculas. There is a real Dracula who was the ruler of Wallachia (southern Romania) back in the 15th century. And there is a fictional Dracula, a sophisticate vampire,  who just borrowed the name from the real one, but they don’t share much else.

On this article we will talk about the real Dracula since we all  know everything about the fictional Dracula, but little is known about the real Dracula

So once again who was Dracula?

The real Dracula was the second son of Vlad Dracul, born in November 1431 in a little town in Transylvania nowadays Romania. The house where Dracula was born still exists in Transylvania, and we often visit the place on our Dracula Tours or Halloween tour

Dracula's house in Sighisoara
Dracula’s father painted on a wall in their house in Sighisoara

The name Dracul literally means The Devil. Vlad Dracul was a Dragon Knight, a very exclusive Society of Crusaders only reserved for high-ranked nobleman. Proud to be a Dragon Knight, Dracul adopted the dragon symbol on his flags, on his royal seal, and even the money that he printed. In the local folklore the Dragon is the devil. Therefore people called him Vlad the Devil “Vlad Dracul” in Romanian.

His son inherited the name from his father and called himself Dracula, in the same way as in English son of John will be called Johnson our son of David becomes Davidson. So son of Dracul becomes Dracula. Therefore you can say the Dracula literally means son of the devil.

So what is the connection between Vlad Dracula and Transylvania?

The real Dracula statue
The statue of real Dracula in hist birthtown Sighisoara

Despite being royalty of Wallachia, Vlad Dracula was born in Transylvania. There were two dynasties fighting for the throne of Wallachia,  the Dracula’s Dynasty and the Danes Dynasty. They would kick each other out of power and succeed to the throne . in 1431 when Dracula was born the Danes dynasty was in power in Wallachia and the Dracula’s family was fugitive in Transylvania seeking support from the Hungarian King to get back on the throne of their country.

Later on the Young Dracula will be exiled to Transylvania, due to his failed attempt to get on the throne of Wallachia. But we will talk about this in the future article about his life. so stay tuned cuz we will continue to reveal the real life of Dracula, which I believe is far more interesting send fictional blood-sucking Dracula that you see in the Hollywood movies.

To be continued

 

Bran Castle, the most famous tourist attraction in Romania due to the connection to the bloodiest Romanian of all times – Count Dracula.

Despite the thousands of visitors and hundreds of articles and papers written about it, the castle kept it’s real secrets over the centuries. I will give you 5 of the most interesting, yet unknown facts about Bran castle.

I’m a professional guide in Romania, I was born and raised in Transylvania, and I’ve visited the castle probably over 200 times with my guests. I found all these secrets, that I’m about to share with you, first hand, from locals, from Romanian legends and history books.

 

1 The old entrance

Bran castle original entance

Nowadays the entrance in the castle is an imposing and quite steep staircase that lead to a beautiful oak door to guards room. This doesn’t make much of a defensive entrance in the castle. That’s ok for the 18th century when castles were already obsolete and canons became so powerful that castle walls were no longer a match for them.

But the Bran Castle was built in the 14 Th century, when bows and arrows were the deadliest weapons on the shelf. So having thick tall walls and a hard to get to entrance was enough to make a castle or a fort impenetrable.

That’s why the old entrance was a small door about 25  feet above the ground and a drawbridge to get to it. And since the castle sits on a cliff, they had to dig a 20 feet wide 15 feet high gap in the rock to actually put the drawbridge over. This was a major undertaking for an era without power tools and dynamite. 🙂

2 The Queen’s heart

Queen Marie heart bran
The tiny niche where Queen Marie’s heart rests next to Bran Castle

Bran castle  was initially a border fortress on the Transylvanian and Wallachian border. It actually became a castle only in 1920 when Transylvania was united to the rest of Romania at the end of First World War. At that time the castle was abandoned and and almost ruined. The owners, the municipality of Brasov decided to give the castle Queen Marie

The Queen love the little castle and she brought her royal architect with her to rearrange the old fortress into a quaint castle. She loved the castle so much that in her will she mentioned that when she dies she wants her heart to be removed from her body and buried next to the castle.

You can see the urn with the Queen’s heart on the south-west side of the castle across the little creek, at the edge of the forest.

 

3 The secret passage

Bran castle secret passage

The secret passage it’s no longer secret. It used to connect first floor of the castle to the third floor. it was an escape tunnel built inside the wall and was used by the castle officers in case of emergency.

What most people don’t know about it is that until 1920 when Queen Marie renovated the castle secret passage was totally forgotten.

During the renovation an old fireplace was removed to rearrange the room and surprisingly they found the entrance into this narrow steep tunnel that led to the upper floor of the castle. To escape the room the officers entered the fireplace open the iron door to the tunnel and escaped through the secret passage

 

 

4 The well

bran castle well

A water well was crucial for medieval castles. It assured a very important autonomy during long sieges when people in the castle had to rely only on the supplies and resources within the castle. Water was important not just for drinking but also putting out fires that would occur during battles and was the cheapest thing that you could boil and throw over your enemies. But in Bran castle the well had another purpose. Being located on top of a cliff it was no easy task to build the well. Since the water was at the bottom of the cliff the builders had to dig 60 feet deep through the solid rock.

Then just before water level they build a secret room as a last resort hideout. when the castle was overtaken by enemies the treasury of the castle could be hidden deep into the well into this secret room

Now in 1920 when Queen Marie got the castle she extended this room inside the well with a 30 foot tunnel that reaches out at the bottom of the cliff below the castle. An elevator was fitted into the old well so that the Queen could go down in the park without climbing all the stairs.

That’s why when you visit the castle you would notice top of the well in the courtyard but no well. that’s because the top of the well was removed to make room for the elevator . The well and the elevator are hidden behind a big black door. The Otis Elevator motor is visible as you come down on the stairs into the courtyard.

 

5 Was Bran castle Dracula’s castle?

Dracula's castle?

Well all historic evidence indicates that it was not . In fact it was quite the opposite Bran castle being owned by the Saxons in Transylvania who were one of Vlad Dracula’s worst enemies. So it makes sense to believe that Vlad Dracula attacked and took over the castle several times in his campaigns against the Saxons in Transylvania . Considering Dracula’s terrible torture and punishment methods, you can only imagine the horrors that this castle has seen when Bran fell into his hands.

Later, the Hungarian king Mathias Corvin arrested Vlad in 1462 in the vicinity of the castle . Vlad Dracula was probably imprisoned in Bran castle for some time, before being transferred to the prison near Budapest.

Want to learn more about Bran Castle? Check out the official page http://www.bran-castle.com/history.html

 

Tours that include Bran Castle

Bran Castle hiking tour

Hiking tour starting from Bran Castle to the true wilderness
6 hours
6/10

Transylvania day tours

One day tour to Transylvania Hotel or Airport pick up
1 Day

Dracula tours

Our Dracula tours are a pleasant journey through the dramatic life
6 days
On request