Castles to see while visiting Romania

Castles to see while visiting Romania

Bran Castle 

Most known for its connection to Bram Stokers character, Dracula, the castle draws in around half a million tourists each year. While the original vampire is pure fiction, and the author has never even visited Romania before or after writing his book, Bran Castle is still marketed as Dracula's castle because of a supposed link to Vlad the Impaler. The notoriety surrounding this historical figure provides just enough sense of wonder for people visiting and sets the castle apart from the others, with its intriguing local and international lore. Setting myths and local legends aside, Bran Castle is also a beautiful sight to see.

Residing majestically on top of a cliff, it pays respects to medieval architects and military strategists. Close to the beautiful city of Brasov and being guarded by the Bugegi Mountains from the east, Piatra Craiului from the Vest, make this not only one of the most interesting fortresses in Romania but also a perfect wallpaper image.

Bran castle has been functioning as a museum of history and feudal art since 1956. The castle was only closed during 1986 to 1993 due to restorations. When the state lost possession in favor of the rightful heirs, it moved some of the art and historical artifacts away. However, the new owners realized the importance and impact the castle has on Romanian tourism and decided to keep it available for tourists, and even redecorated with personal family memorabilia.

Peles Castle

(in photo)

Fitting for a country with such architectural beauty, that not far from Dracula's Castle, a mere 44km away from Brasov stands another impressive structure once home to kings now, turned museum. Although it had its share of bad days during the communist period, once the democratic regime came to power after 1989, the castle undergone restoration work and was declared a national heritage site, before being opened to the general public. Some estimates put the cost of construction (without any restoration work) at approximately US$ 120 million, in modern day terms.

It was commissioned by King Carol I of Romania (1866-1914). Peles Castle is known as the royal summer residence. After 1900, a new floor was added to the original building, bringing the room total to 160 and over 30 bathrooms. The 3400 sq ft castle was once the home of one of the most important painting collections across Europe, as well as over 4000 European and Asian pieces of weaponry dating from the 14th to 17th century period. Only 35% of it is opened to tourists but there are still plenty of things to admire.

Peles Castle is surrounded by several smaller building, all built at the same time. The most notable of them all being the power plant. This allowed the castle to be the first in the world fully powered by electricity. The smaller Pelisor Castle is used as a presidential residence while the rest have been turned into hotels or restaurants to cater to the many visitors.

Corvin Castle

This is a structure built in the 15th century on orders from Ioan of Hunedoara, a ruler known for valiantly defying the Ottoman Empire, during his time. It covers an 8000sq ft area, with 42 rooms, two terraces, and two bridges. The main access point is a wooden bridge supported by four stone pillars anchored in the Plastic River. The gothic architectural style makes it look very appealing while the cannons remind visitors that this is still an imposing military structure.

There are quite a few folk tales about events that took place in this castle. From housing the notorious Vlad the Impaler to executions and torture of prisoners of war, or a monk spy being buried alive in a wall of a small tower, there are many eerie things that add authenticity to the castle. Unlike more modernized historical sites, Corvin Castle is one of those places preserved more carefully, with great attention to detail and no additions that spoil the original version of the building.

Probably because of so many tales that can't be confirmed or denied by anyone, the castle became the host on two occasions for paranormal tv shows. This combination of mystery and well preserved structural detail are what make the Corvin Castle unique.

Karoly Castle

Located in Carei, this two story 17th-century baroque castle with over 40 rooms started out as a house for the noble Karolyi family. The improvements in construction were designed to make the residence more defendable against the Ottoman threat. From home to garrison (occupied by Nazis), from sanatorium to high school this building is filled with rich and troublesome history.

The castle has three permanent exhibits consisting of 18th-century furniture, South African trophies, and local artifacts. While the décor on the inside makes people feel like stepping into a world hundreds of years into the past, the outside is not at all less impressive. Karoly Castle is surrounded by a majestic dendrological park which makes the entire area an amazing sight to visit during warm seasons.

Even though it is one of the more modern type buildings, it is not without its share of legends. From secret tunnels and walled off cellars filled with Nazi gold, there are plenty of things to learn from the elderly locals, always eager to tell tales and keep the mysteries surrounding the castle, alive.