Bran Castle (German: Törzburg; Hungarian: Törcsvár), situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as "Dracula's Castle" (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poienari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is marketed as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle. Furthermore, there are persistent myths that it was once the home of Vlad Ţepeş, ruler of Wallachia. This is not true. The historical person Vlad III never resided here.
The castle is now a museum open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie. Tourists can see the interior individually or by a guided tour. At the bottom of the hill is a small open air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country.
In 1212 the Teutonic Knights built the wooden castle of Dietrichstein as a fortified position in the Burzenland at the entrance to a mountain valley through which traders had travelled for more than a millennium, although it was destroyed in 1242 by the Mongols. The first documented mentioning of Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Braşov) the privilege to build the stone citadel on their own expense and labor force; the settlement of Bran began to develop nearby. The castle was first used in 1378 in defence against the Ottoman Empire, and later became a customs post on the mountain pass between Transylvania and Wallachia. The castle briefly belonged to Mircea the Elder of Wallachia. While Vlad Ţepeş did not actually live in the Bran Castle, it is believed he spent two days locked in the dungeon while the Ottomans controlled Transylvania.
From 1920 the castle became a royal residence within the Kingdom of Romania. It was the principal home of Queen Marie, and is decorated largely with artefacts from her time, including traditional furniture and tapestries that she collected to highlight Romanian crafts and skills. The castle was inherited by her daughter, Princess Ileana, and was later seized by the communist regime after the expulsion of the royal family in 1948. In 2005, the Romanian government passed a special law allowing restitution claims on properties such as Bran, which was seized by the Communist government of Romania in 1948. In 2006, the Romanian government awarded ownership to Archduke Dominic of Austria, Prince of Tuscany, known as Dominic von Habsburg, an architect in New York State and the son and heir of Princess Ileana.
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