When I decided to go to Romania, I knew exactly one thing about it: Transylvania was there, with Dracula’s Castle!
So of course, I immediately downloaded Dracula so that I could start reading it (I love reading books when you’re going to the place – it’s so fun!) and read the book through my trip in Romania.
Castle Bran is the only castle in Transylvania that meets Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s castle, but that’s about where things end – even Castle Bran doesn’t really play up the Dracula connection nearly as much as you’d think they would. There’s a room at the top of the castle that talks about different Transylvanian legends and puts Dracula in that context, but that’s about it.
When I went to Castle Bran, I knew there was rain in the forecast that day. In fact, I planned it that way a bit – I knew heading into Brasov that I’d have one sunny day and one rainy day, and I decided that the storybook-like Peles Castle would be much better on the sunny day, and Dracula’s Castle just sort of fit a rainy day.
I took the bus from Brasov to Bran, and got my first glimpse of the castle. It’s an incredibly impressive building, and it lacks much of the ornamental decoration of Peles. That’s, of course, because Bran Castle was a really working castle and not just a summer home!
I made the mistake of going on Monday – I had checked that the castle would be open, but I didn’t properly look at the hours. I got there at about 10am and it didn’t open until noon! Whoops! But I had packed my Kindle so spent some time reading Dracula in the shadow of the castle. Quite perfect!
I also got into the ticket line early, which was a blessing. I stood in the ticket line for about an hour (most of that just standing before it was open) because the line just kept getting longer. I got my ticket and started up to the castle and it hadn’t started raining yet!
The interior of the castle was honestly something I wasn’t as impressed with. It was incredibly crowded and the corridors were quite small, so claustrophobia was in overdrive! The castle was not nearly as sumptuous as Peles, but in so many ways, Bran is how I imagine many of the older castles to be. What we want to romanticize as castles were frequently drafty and not well-furnished!
While I was inside, it started raining. I was so happy I got in when I did, because when I left, the line to get into the castle was probably itself and hour (with the ticket line another hour!). I was so happy I’d gotten there early and didn’t stand in the rain! As I was coming down from the castle, I definitely slipped on the pavers and completely fell on my bum. It was so embarrassing! And it was just the day before that I’d climbed Mt Tampa and fell there. So my poor legs were feeling quite beaten up.
Once I finished at Bran, I decided not to go to Rasnov Fortress because so many people say it’s all about the views, and the rain was definitely going to kill any views.
Luckily, the next day was my last in Romania, and my train to Budapest didn’t leave until the evening. So I spent the morning heading over to Rasnov and exploring it. I’m glad I got to go!
The town of Rasnov is absolutely gorgeous and adorable. The houses are so perfect and cute and has side courtyards, and it really is just like a fairy tale.
The fortress sits high above the town – in all the time it was an active fortress, it was only captured once – and that was because the invaders found the water supply and cut it off. After that, the villagers dug a well in the fortress and they never were defeated again.
Rasnov Fortress is actually so high up that they have a funicular to take you up! It’s more expensive than walking, but I was so happy to not take all of those stairs! After all the stairs so far on this trip, I think my quads are more fit than they’ve ever been. The funicular also provides great views of the town and around.
The fortress itself is quite large – you can see how the whole town would have fit in there during times of duress. It’s also got absolutely stunning views of the plains and mountains around. You can see why it was such a strong defensive location.
The views are incredible, and I felt so lucky to get to see them. The morning I went it was supposed to rain, but when I woke up, the rain from the day before had cleared! I’m so happy I got the chance to go to Rasnov, and I’m so happy the weather cooperated!