Welcome to the world of legendary Romanian castles! We like and would visit all of them, but that is a vacation plan for another time. Our favorites though are listed below, covering both stories and facts about the most intriguing ones. The still standing castles or their ruins, once spectacular architectural creations, are also part of Romanian folklore and legends. Not to mention, some of them already possess international fame, such as the Dracula Castle, also known as the Bran Castle. In the past, the Adventures of Kira Yew have gone through many magical places, especially the Transylvanian castles, so dear to all of us. But now, here it is, our fresh top 5 Romanian castles and their legends:
The Dracula Castle in Bran
When it comes to any of the castles where the real Dracula might have resided, well…let’s say the Bran Castle is not one of them. In fact, Vlad the Impaler or Vlad III Dracul, in Romanian, had his throne fortress based on the Wallachian mountain border. So, the Poenari citadel was actually the place where the real Dracula viciously ruled what now we know as southern Romania or Muntenia. On the one hand, the legends mention him only to have passed by the Bran Castle, through the Bran Gorge. That is because the castle belonged back then to the Hungarian King Vladislaus II.
On the other hand, legends say that the Hungarian King Mathias Corvinus imprisoned him in 1462 in this fortress. However, this Romanian castle played a more significant role in the aftermath of the voivode’s death, keeping the Ottomans at a distance in battles. Yet, those are stories to be told some other time.
If you visit Bran Castle nowadays, its excellent preservation and Queen Marie of Romania’s collection of items will dazzle you for sure. Even so, if you want more of the most horror-inspiring Romanian creatures, try the werewolf legends of Transylvania. Plus, after a visit to the Bran Castle, you can add wolf watching on your list of adventurous things to do in Romania.
The Raven Legend of the Corvin Castle
Our second favorite choice is the Corvin Castle and its legend. The House of Hunyadi also known as the Corvinus family has ruled the domain of this castle for many years. The legend says that once upon a time, in Medieval Transylvania, Sigismund of Luxembourg (1368-1437) had an illegitimate son with a Romanian woman, Elisabeta, from the Country of Hațeg (Țara Hațegului). As the last male heir of the House of Luxembourg, he could not have afforded to lose track of his unborn offspring. So, the king gave Elisabeta a golden ring, as proof of paternity.
Now married to one of his knights, Voyk Hunyadi (Wallachian born) Elisabeta travels pregnant through the woods with her husband. She loses the ring in a huckaback in the forest and later on, a raven, attracted by its glow, picks it up in its beak and gone it is. Thus, the illegitimate son of Sigismund of Luxembourg, John Hunyadi, is born without proof of inheritance to the throne of Hungary. Despite this backset in life, John Hunyadi was a hero in Romania’s history, and he remains that way for his brave leadership.
As one of the many legends that earned a symbol in history and has survived the ages, the raven legend has its own. Fortunately, the walls of the Corvin Castle, also called the Hunyadi Castle, in Hunedoara, Romania bare the engravement of this raven. If you look attentively, on John Hunyadi’s coat of arms, you will notice a raven with a golden ring in its beak on a blue background. The people of Hunedoara County, where the Corvin Castle lays, are still proud of this legend. So proud, that they kept the symbol on the County’s flag.
Peleș Castle’s Legendary Facts
Of all the castles in Romania, even of all the castles in Europe, this one is the most exquisite. Happily, it still stands in front of a scenic mountain view in Sinaia, Romania. The Peleș Castle, once a Royal residence and now a museum, is one of the best kept Romanian castles. The construction, together with the Pelișor and the Foișor haunting lodge, lasted for 39 years, from 1873 to 1914. Due to King Carol I of Romania’s initiative to build an extraordinary elegant fortress at the border between Wallachia and Transylvania, the castle stood just in the middle of the country after the Great Union. It was the first castle in the world fully powered by locally produced electricity.
Legendary personalities have visited this famous castle. From the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph’s visit in 1896 to musicians and artists like George Enescu, Sarah Bernhardt, Jacques Thibaud; they’ve all been there. The legend says that Queen Elizabeth of Romania used to organize poetry evenings at the castle, being herself a writer, under the pseudonym Carmen Sylva.
Finally, we want to mention a couple of fun facts about Peleș Castle. It featured in a charming late 2000s movie, The Brothers Bloom, with Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo. The large estate in New Jersey, there Rachel Weisz’ character, Penelope, lives is, in fact, the Peleș Castle. Also, the castle featured in a 2017 Netflix original film: A Christmas Prince.
The Iulia Hasdeu Castle’s Enigma
Now, this is one for the books. The legend of Iulia Hasdeu’s Castle in Câmpina is one of the most intriguing in the history of Romanian castles. It is the only castle solely dedicated to a child. Some might say it was built in the memory of a genius who died too young. A child prodigy, Iulia Hasdeu, was already studying to prepare her doctoral thesis at Sorbonne, when 16. Unfortunately, she died of tuberculosis at 19. Her father, the famous Romanian writer, Bogdan Petriceicu-Hasdeu almost never recovered from the pain of losing his only daughter.
This event completely changed the author’s life, who became fascinated with spiritism and ghosts. By 1894 he began the construction of a folly house as if the Bellu Cemetery shrine in Bucharest wasn’t enough. This house eventually presented itself in the shape of a small castle, with three towers. Inside, each staircase is composed of seven steps. There are 6 rooms, of which three have different colors: red, blue and yellow. The light that transpires the stained glass windows contributes to the effect. A Catholic sculpture of Jesus Christ juxtaposes with spiritism items. To add an astrological dimension, a telescope is too among the enigmatic objects inside the castle.
Romanian Castles in Moldavia
Last, but not least in our top 5 Romanian castles and their legends is a Moldavian castle. People know it as the Sturdza Castle in Miclăușeni. With a long history of over four centuries, the feudal domain of this castle has bared a lot of masters. During World War I, it hosted a military hospital and the great Romanian composer George Enescu visited the wounded.
Gheorghe Sturdza’s, a Moldavian nobleman, built the palace in a late neogothic style with baroque influences. By 1904 the construction finished. Its last owner Elena Cantacuzino was seen fleeing in 1944 and trying to save precious documents from the castle before the war’s destroying of them all. Nowadays, you can visit the Sturdza Palace or even rent it for special events.
So, next time you will visit one of these fantastic Romanian castles you will have known a lot about them, right? After enjoying this top 5 Romanian castles and their legends, you better start planning for a castle tour with a map.