Holidays

The World's Creepiest Places

by Ralph Martin

Bran Castle, Bran, Romania

A vertiginous hilltop climb leads to a storybook castle that seems to have no horizontal surfaces: Endless stairways and towers are all that is visible. Inside, underground passageways connect dozens of rooms containing rococo antiques and suits of armor. All that's missing from Dracula's Castle, as Bran Castle is known, is a stormy night and a lightning bolt to illuminate the scene. A cloud of legend, local folklore, and literary pedigree hang over the dramatic fortress, perched 200 feet above the Romanian town of Bran. The castle has certainly reaped a PR bonanza as the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula, with a reported 450,000 visitors a year—not bad for an isolated spot in Eastern Europe. The name comes from the notoriously sadistic tyrant Vlad the Impaler, known as Vlad Dracula, who is said to have used the castle as an occasional base of operations. Vlad earned his nickname by hoisting tens of thousands of enemies on stakes; one engraving shows him feasting alone at a table surrounded by a veritable forest of his victims hanging on spikes. Bram Stoker got wind of Vlad's legend and, after a visit to Romania, modeled Count Dracula's castle on this one. The castle is quite tourist-friendly, but just be aware that it closes at 4 pm, lest the sun set before visitors are safely away.

Bran Castle
Tel: 40 268 238 333

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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