Situated on a steep rock in the Bran Gorge, the Bran Castle controls an important trade route between Transylvania and Wallachia. Probably, Bram Stoker saw an etching of the fortress in Charles Boner's book Transylvania - Its Products and its People. In Nina Mazucchelli's work Magyarland, another source the novelist used, its romantic appearance is mentioned as well. The connection between Bran Castle and Vlad III Dracula, on the other hand, is very thin - as is the link between Vlad and Stoker's narrative.
The castle was owned by the Saxon citizens of Braşov, who donated it to Queen Marie of Romania in 1920. Queen Marie turned it into her favourite summer residence and left it to her daughter Ileana. After the fall of the Communist regime, Bran Castle was restituted to Ileana's children, Archduke Dominic von Habsburg and his sisters. It now functions as a museum, attracting more than 500,000 visitors per year. One of the images on display is the frontispiece of the first illustrated Dracula edition (1910), picturing the Vampire's stronghold on top of a high cliff. In details, the drawing differs from Bran Castle's appearance: Possibly, the illustrator took his inspiration from Stoker's text or from the earlier covers of the Doubleday & McClure editions rather than from Boner's etching directly. Still, no other Romanian citadel offers a better match to Bram Stoker's conception of Castle Dracula. We are happy to team up with Archduke Dominic, his family and staff and recommend visiting the castle, its permanent exhibition and excellent Website.
Recently, however, the press reported that Bran Castle is being offered to investors operating in the field of tourism, in order to expand and exploit its commercial potential - we will have to wait and see what is the outcome of this process.