(Photo by: Horia Varlan)
Yep! According to legend, Count Dracula lived here!
Exploring Castles in Romania
When it comes to travel destinations, Romania gets an undeserved short end of the stick, unless you’re a Count Dracula fan of course. Many people associate Romania with cold, dreary weather, vampires, and horror stories. Nothing could be further from the truth! Sure, Transylvania is part of Romania, but this member of the European Union is a glorious natural, historic, and cultural gem, complete with mountainous regions, a rich heritage, medieval fortresses and amazing castles! Did I mention amazing castles…?
Despite my short-end-of-the-stick intro, no blog post about Romania is complete without discussing Count Dracula’s castle, so let’s head over to Transylvania and discuss Romania’s most famous resident’s crib! Bran (or Dracula’s) Castle was built in 1377, and when you view this masterpiece from afar, it is no wonder it is considered the epitome of horror castles!
Seated high atop a hill, Bran Castle presents an imposing figure of blood-red towers and turrets. Well, okay, not blood red, but they are brick red! The castle also has 57 rooms, some incredible furniture, artwork dating back to the fourteenth century, and a nifty secret passage – whoop! You can’t have Count Dracula’s home not have a secret passage!
Count Dracula was believed to be Count Vlad Tepes and he really only hung out in the creepy castle for a few weeks; well, he was imprisoned there actually. Suffice it to say, the castle and legend of Count Vlad led to an amazing piece of literature by Bram Stoker, and you simply cannot visit Romania without touring Count Dracula’s Castle.
Transylvania is home to another world-famous Romanian castle. Located in Sinaia, Peles Castle looks more as if it came out of a fairytale book. Peles Castle also boasts grandiose towers and turrets, 160 rooms, and it is surrounded by storybook meadows. King Carol I, Romania’s longest serving king, had Peles Castle built between 1873 and 1914; he wanted a summer retreat. Must be nice!
Today, the castle would have cost Romanians $120 million dollars. Yikes! That is some serious cribbage right there! Unfortunately, King Carol I died right after his summer hideaway was finished, but they did bury him there so I guess he gets to enjoy it… kind of? And what’s not to enjoy? The German Renaissance building is surrounded by beauty only $120 million dollars can afford!
Seven terraces surround the castle and they didn’t skimp on the decor. Marble embellishments, ornamental vases, glorious statues, and decorative stone walls give the castle’s terraces unheard of elegance. The castle and surrounding buildings are also adorned with French Rococo, Gothic, and Italian Renaissance flair. You know what, you just have to go and see it! It’s too glorious to describe!
Corvin Castle is also called Hunyad Castle or Hunedoara Castle and it, too, is located in Transylvania. Hey, the Transylvanians like their castles! This beautiful castle was erected atop an old Roman camp – maybe the Romanians were saying something here – and it is known to be one of the greatest examples of Gothic architecture that Europe has to offer!
The castle sits above the River Zlasti, and it terms of imposing it’s right up there with Bran Castle. The castle is huge, has tall Gothic towers (including a gate tower), and myriad windows with adorned balconies. It also has a wooden bridge to get you safely across the river to the gate tower. Let’s pretend the river is a moat complete with crocodiles!
And, guess what? Count Vlad Tepes also called this castle his home for seven years. Maybe that’s why it has a frightening dungeon because, again, he was a prisoner! Built in the fourteenth century, Corvin Castle has 42 rooms and a stunning courtyard that begs you to visit the castle on a sunny day. Pretend you’re Iancu Corvin; he’s the ruler who commissioned the building of this amazing structure!
If love castles – and who doesn’t – you simply must take a trip to Romania. This country has a storied Middle Ages history and the architecture to prove it! Castle, bridges, dungeons, and embellishments and decor too rich for just about anybody’s blood, you’ll find them all in Romania. So, come on! Go explore castles in Romania! You won’t be disappointed!