Myth has it that high above the valley of Romania, in the principality of Transylvania, lies a castle that was once occupied by count Dracula himself. You will find the gothic Bran Castle near the town of Brasov, which has long been linked to this ancient vampire, though Dracula probably won’t be there when you arrive.
Sorry for the deceiving title.
You see, the Dracula character was actually just a creation by author Bram Stoker for his novel written in 1897. Though Stoker had never even been to Transylvania it is said that his writings were inspired by the very real and murderous Vlad the Impaler, who was known for the excessive cruelty to his enemies. Vlad was also believed to have spent time at Bran castle as a guest during a time of exile.
The Dracula-Bran Castle connection is sketchy at best.
But, Transylvania has been extremely successful at keeping the legend of Dracula alive. Enough so that after spending the day at Stejarii Country Club in Bucharest, I was adamant about traveling the four hours round-trip to visit this mysterious castle perched atop a 200-foot rock.
I packed some garlic and headed to Transylvania.
TravelMaker Tours arranged for me to do their Two Castles in One Day Tour which would not only take me from Bucharest to the famous Bran Castle, but also to the lesser publicized, yet more impressive Peles Castle.
Our first stop Peles Castle.
In the beginning of this trip, Peles Castle was merely a necessary pit stop on my way to Bran, a place to stretch my legs. That is until we walked up the path and there stood an incredibly beautiful castle surrounded by white snow.
To say it was picture perfect would be an understatement.
Peles Castle’s construction began in 1873 and took 39 years to complete. With more than 160 ornate woodwork filled rooms, using 14 different kinds of wood, it’s easy to see why it took so long.
Each room had its own glamorous style.
I paid an extra 32 lei ($7.99 usd) to get a photography pass, because I didn’t want to miss capturing the breathtaking interior and the opportunity to share it with you on this travel blog.
We were shown through an array of elegant rooms; such as the Florentine Hall, Mirror Hall, Arabic and Smoking Room.
Plus, we ogled the numerous pieces of artwork throughout the castle. Actually, all of the fireplaces were fake from the beginning because the King thought the smoke would hurt these pieces of art.
The King was an avid art collector.
Next stop, Bran (Dracula) Castle.
Peles Castle was going to be a tough act to follow, but if anybody could do it it would be Dracula. We arrived and were immediately greeted by souvenir shops at the entrance, just like at most popular tourist attractions around the world.
Dracula mugs seemed to be a popular momento theme.
Though Bran Castle is loosely linked to the Dracula legend, as I mentioned before the connection is ambiguous. But, it still draws lovers of vampire lore from all over the world.
Beware: Tourists come in droves.
Climbing the dozens of tunneled stairs and exploring the interior, led me to realize that the sparsely decorated rooms pale in comparison to glamour of Peles.
Though, there was a certain level of charm to the dark wood paneled rooms and stark white walls. Plus, interesting Dracula facts and vampire information is strategically placed throughout, along with relics from the royal family who previously resided there.
Even sans Dracula, Bran Castle should be on your bucket list. But, Peles Castle should absolutely be on there too.
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My trip to Bran (Dracula) Castle and Peles Castle was hosted by TravelMaker tours, but all opinions are my own.