The fortress known widely as Dracula's castle is for sale.
The forbiddingly picturesque Bran Castle, in Transylvania, is everything you'd expect of Romania's most popular tourist destination, a Middle Ages fortress associated with Vlad the Impaler and Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and therefore vampires (strigoi to locals). Turrets needle the sky, dark corridors tangle the senses, jagged stone underpinnings convey brutal impassivity. The castle dates back more than 500 years, so it's seen its share of medieval behavior -- presumably bloody and otherwise.
The only problem is that the associations with Vlad and vampires are ... well, various news sources call it "tenuous."
Bram Stoker, the Irish author of "Dracula," never set foot in Romania himself, though he may have come across mentions or pictures of Bran Castle in his extensive research.
And Vlad the Impaler, of the family name Dracul -- a medieval Romanian folk hero whose nickname tells you probably everything you need to know, and a presumed inspiration for Stoker's Dracula -- operated in the region, and might have spent a night or, at most, a couple of months at Bran Castle, either as a guest or as a prisoner. Vampires, not so much, though the castle's website does say:
"In the villages near Bran, there is a belief in the existence of evil spirits called ghosts or 'steregoi' (a variant of 'strigoi'). Until half a century ago, it was believed that there existed certain living people – 'strigoi' – who were leading a normal life during the day but at night, during their sleep, their souls left their bodies and haunted the village tormenting people in their sleep. These evil spirits haunt their prey from midnight until the first cockcrow, when their power to harm people faded. ... The Dracula character derives from these local myths."
According to the website, "Bran Castle is the only castle in all of Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle." Here's Stoker's narrator:
"I went out on the stairs, and found a room looking towards the South.
"The view was magnificent, and from where I stood there was every opportunity of seeing it. The castle is on the very edge of a terrific precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
"But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further. Doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit. The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!"
If the Dracula connection is a bit of a letdown, you might like to sink your teeth into this macabre-but-true detail:
After the beloved Queen Marie of Romania died in 1938, a silver box containing her heart was ensconced at the castle. A niche near a castle church was chipped into a cliff to shelter it. (Communist vandals later took the heart. Its current whereabouts are a little unclear, although the castle's website suggests: "Perhaps this case should find its final resting place here, at Bran, as a reparatory gesture in remembrance of the great sovereign who loved Bran Castle with all of her heart.")
Also from Yahoo Homes: