Transylvania’s most famous fortress is for sale. Previous occupants: one vampire, one queen and an Impaler
The views are similarly uninterrupted. The original property particulars don’t survive, of course. But you can bet that the estate agents in the nearest town (Brasov) would have put plenty of emphasis on the number of miles away from which you could spot an advancing army.
There’s no doubt, either, that the structure (real name Bran Castle) comes with several centuries’ worth of history clinging to its sheer walls (proven to be cannonball-resistant, no surveyor’s report required). First records of a fortress on this spot date back to 1211. Since then it has been through numerous fortifications and invasions (for many years, it stood in the path of invading Turks).
And yes, we all know that the bloodsucking vampire Count Dracula was a purely fictional character, invented by the Irish writer Bram Stoker, and made famous in films starring sharp-fanged Christopher Lee. But the fearsome real-life Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes famously operated in this area in the 15th century. Indeed, he is said to have been imprisoned in Bran Castle for a couple of months. On top of which, Transylvanian legend and folklore are full of characters called strigoi. These ghostly beings leave their corporeal bodies when darkness falls and roam the surrounding valleys searching for sleeping villagers to terrify.
In the real world, too, the castle has a whole dungeon full of gripping stories. In 1920, back in the days when Romania had a royal family, the fortress was given to Queen Marie, the granddaughter of our own Queen Victoria. When she died, in 1938, she bequeathed the castle to her daughter Princess Ileana, who in 1944 set up a hospital at Bran, to treat soldiers wounded in the war. The royal tenure came to a sudden end, though, when the communists came to power.
“In 1948, the entire royal family was given 24 hours not just to get out of the castle, but out of the country,” says Meyer. “They were packed off in a train.”
Before they left, though, one of the princess’s six children, 10-year-old Dominic, ran into the village, to give his bicycle to his best friend. Naturally, he did not expect to return, but 58 years later, following the fall of the Ceausescu regime, Bran Castle was restored to the royal family, and both Dominic and two of his sisters (Maria Magdalena and Elizabeth) have been running it ever since. Read on
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