After spending some time in Bucharest, my roommate and I went off on an adventure north to Transylvania. I, like most people, associate Romania with Transylvania – the mystical home of Dracula the legendary vampire, created by author Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel of the same name.
Though Dracula is a purely fictional creation, Stoker named his infamous character after a real person who happened to have a taste for blood: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia or as he is better known: Vlad the Impaler. The morbid nickname is a testament to the Wallachian prince’s favorite way of dispensing of his enemies.
I would argue the real Dracula’s taste for blood was much worse than the fictional character. According to one of our tour-guides in Bucharest, Vlad would take a stake, coat it with pigs fat, and impale his victims between the buttocks. I will spare you the details, as they are quite gruesome, but if you are up for the cringe you can read more in this article.
Dracula history aside, Bran Castle (in the town of Bran) is a must see. The castle sits atop a hill looking over the city below, and the inner courtyard is one of the loveliest I’ve seen. The town itself is quite small, and the castle is what brings in most people. We were lucky we visited Bran on the day we did, because the next day the castle closed due to the Coronavirus.
Our walking tour in Bucharest also had to close the day after we partook. We were literally one day ahead of everything closing.
As a result of Corona starting to spread, there were little to no tourists in any of the cities we visited in Romania. Going in March likely helped as well, March is not a hugely popular travel month. Dracula’s castle was the only thing “I had to see” when I decided to visit Romania, and I am thankful I made it just in time.
The path leading towards the castle takes you through a mini market of sorts, with vendors selling local products like cheese and meat, as well as handmade items. This was something I noticed driving into Transylvania, handfuls of vendors along the sides of the road selling items like honey, alcohol, and trinkets.
I saw three cats and three dogs in Bran. The dogs were in a pack, and the cats were each on their own (naturally – which is why cats are my spirit animal.) My favorite cat was the below photographed scowling puss who was going in and out of the castle restaurant like he owned the place.
Bran Castle was a bucket list visit for me, but arguably superior to Bran is Peleș Castle, a Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia. Sinaia is technically about 31 miles from Transylvania – but it’s close enough to be included in this post. Peleș Castle was the summer home of King Carol I (whom I briefly mentioned in my previous post) and I have never, ever, seen ANYTHING like it.
The town of Sinaia is a mountain town, and this town convinced me I needed to return to Romania someday for hiking. The castle is tucked into the mountainous woods, with an immaculate view of the surrounding landscapes. I regrettably didn’t go inside this castle, because we visited Peleș Castle before going to Bran, and I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to go inside Bran.
In hindsight, we would have had time for both, but alles gut.
I did spend more time wandering the exterior of Peleș than Bran, which felt endless. The grounds are also home to Pelisor Castle, a smaller version of Peleș with more of a German texture style if you ask me. Peleș also has a bit of German influence with the criss cross lines on the exterior. Only makes sense with a German king.
Both castles were 10/10 visits, and the moment time travel is figured out I plan to go back to King Carol I times to visit his summer home with him. I did say he was a babe after all, and Peleș Castle is almost as beautiful as he was. 😉
Q: What’s the most unique castle you’ve ever visited (or seen in photographs if you haven’t been to a castle?) Peleș Castle is officially the most unique castle I’ve seen thus far.
17 thoughts on “Transylvania Tour”
Not a big castle visitor. But there are a few on my list. Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon. Helsignor Castle in Denmark. (Hamlet’s castle). Windsor Castle outside London. Pretty lame. The US has a few castle-y places like Biltmore in Asheville NC and the Castillo de San Marcos, a fort really.
That’s not lame at all! I hope you get the opportunity to see as many of those as possible.
Those are the ones I have seen. Missed quite a few good ones in Denmark. I’ve also seen lots of palaces but castles are different, I suppose.
Ohh oh, I misread!
This trip is on my bucket list! I know a few people who went for Halloween and they all had a fantastic time. Talk about doing something different for the holiday!
Halloween would be the PERFECT time to visit!
This sounds like a very interesting adventure!
I think most of us are familiar with Vlad “the Poker” by now. I can’t imagine what it was like to be in his neck of the woods.
I remember going to The Winchester Mystery House, during the day and feeling totally uneasy. I suppose that’s the closest I’ve been to a castle, no I’ve been to Chapultepec but that was long ago.
I would NOT want to be on Vlad’s bad side. 😬
I hadn’t heard of that mystery house, but just looked it up. That’s a big NOOO for me! LOL.
Thank you for sharing with ne.
My younger son’s name is Vlad. For some reason, people often can’t get it right (probably because when they ask for name, they expect to hear something “normal”) and ask – Brad? we have to correct: no, like Dracula 🙂
I hope I will be able to visit this castle sometime!
“No, like Dracula.” That’s too funny!
I actually shuddered involuntarily when I read your description of what the “real” Dracula did… Shoulder twitch and all. I have such a weak stomach! 🙈 (And yet… I found the torture museum in Rothenburg fascinating back in high school… Go figure?)
All three castles look amazing!! I love the photo of those stone steps from the one in Bran. (Maybe another one of those “Universe” moments, how you were one day ahead of everything closing??) And the other two castles look SO charming! I’d visit them in a heartbeat!
I honestly can’t pick a favorite castle from the ones I’ve visited… Partially because I love them all for different reasons, partially because I can’t remember all of their names! 😜
I shudder too, it’s so cringe worthy. I can even imagine. I also read he would eat dinner and talk with the people he impaled so he could have company, while they slowly died. WHAT!?
Uhhhh… That’s NOT normal. Not even close. Creepy to the max!!
Sound like a great place with or without vampires. Castles are on my bucket list. Safe travels,
I am thankful to have been able to visit!