Bran castle (XIV century) – located in Brasov county, Transylvania.
Throughout the centuries, the castle was used by both Romanian and Hungarian royalty. In modern times, it became notorious thanks to one of its residents – prince Vlad Tepes (or Vlad Dracula – read more on him in Personalities).
Contrary to beliefs, the vampire myth is a fictional concept drawn from Bram Stoker’s book.
*In 1920, the castle was donated by the state to Queen Mary of Romania. After WW2, the communist authorities turned it into a public museum. After 1990, the heirs of the royal family claimed ownership and after a long battle with the state, it was awarded to them. Despite being opened to the public, the castle represents private property; the original furniture has been replaced by the new owners.
Vlad Dracula and his brother Radu the Handsome grew up as prisoners at the Sultan’s court, given by their father as guarantee of his obedience to the Ottoman empire. Unlike Radu who remained faithful to the Empire as an adult, Vlad developed animosity for the Ottomans and sought independence for the Vallachian principality.
A short mention by Byzantine writer Laonikos Chalkokondyles (1423-1490) in “Historiarum Demonstrationes” gives insight into the life that Vlad rejected:
“This winter while staying in his palaces, the king (sultan Mohamed) sent after Vlad, son of Dracula and lord of Dacia; he had with himself his younger brother Radu the Handsome, who was his favorite and who was living at his residence. And so it happened that during his reign, before the Karaman battle, wanting to have relations with this boy, he nearly died at the hands of Radu himself. He called him at parties and while giving a passionate toast to him, he called him in his bedroom. The boy, without suspecting anything, saw the sultan rushing toward him but he resisted and did not give in to the king’s desire. He kissed the boy against his will, who pulled a dagger and stroke him in the thigh and ran away. The doctors healed the king’s wound. And the boy climbed up a tree and stayed hidden. But after the king left the palace, the boy came down from the tree, and not long afterward he came to the palace gate and became the king’s favorite.”
While Radu supported the Sultan until the end of his life and fought against his brother. Vlad fought hopelessly against the foreign occupation and was eventually murdered by the Turks in 1476, in the swamps of Snagov forest. His head was taken to the Sultan as a trophy and his body was never recovered.