It’s no secret that the whole of the Romanian countryside is covered with castles, fortresses, citadels, and ruins of every kind. Romania is a country chock full of history involving vibrant paleolithic sites, lost societies such as the Dacians, vicious impaling rulers like Vlad Tepes, Ottoman resistance, and so much more. Whether you’re looking to explore long-forgotten, overgrown towers and squares or perfectly restored renaissance masterpieces, Romania really has it all. So! Without further adieu, here are the best castles to visit in Romania.
Corvin Castle is straight out of a Gothic-Renaissance dream and tucked away in southwestern Transylvania. Easily the country’s most photogenic castle, it was built in 1440 and is complete with a massive drawbridge, sky-high spires, grandiose arches, and spectacular dining halls that would put Hogwarts to shame. This Hunedoara jewel is much more than a pretty face, though; it’s full of history and oozing with spooky stories that involve curses left by Turkish prisoners and haunted souls who roam the torture chambers. Speaking of prisoners, Corvin Castle held a quite famous one – Vlad Tepes, (yep, that one) for seven years. Legend has it he was driven insane listening to the screams of the torture chambers, which says quite a lot for one of Europe’s most violent and ruthless rulers. Despite its bloody past, it remains one of my favorite castles I’ve ever stepped foot in and should be at the top of your list of castles to visit while in Romania.
Ah, Bran Castle. You mysterious, spooky, spellbinding gothic gem. Sandwiched between the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, Bran Castle tops the list of pretty much anyone visiting Romania; not just because of its ties to Bram Stoker’s epic horror novel Dracula, but because of its history. Perched high atop a hill that overlooks the surrounding valleys linking Wallachia and Transylvania, it was an ideal spot for guarding and protecting the area. The earliest days of Bran Castle can be traced back to the early 1200s when it started as a fortress built by Teutonic Knights, aka the *real deal* crusaders who were…not nice.
A hundred or so years later, it became a full-fledged castle thanks to the Hungarian King Louis the Great. For the next few centuries, Castle Bran became one of Transylvania’s most vital fortifications, and of course, bore its fair share of legends. The surrounding village of Bran was doing quite well for itself until the mid-1400’s when Vlad the Impaler passed through en route to Brasov and murdered hundreds of Saxons and burned down countless villages along the way.
Nowadays, it functions as a museum mostly in honor of Queen Marie and her daughter, Princess Ileana, who were both legendary monarchs of Romania and resided in Castle Bran. Within the castle’s walls, you’ll find a secret staircase and plenty of tributes to the local legends of strigoi, the Romanian folklore creature which vampires are based on. After all, the legend of strigoi, combined with Vlad Tepes’ bloodthirsty rule and eery at