Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dracula's castle handed back

More than 60 years after it was seized by communists, the Romanian government is to hand back one of the country's most popular tourist sites, the fabled Dracula Castle, to its former owners.

The ceremony will take place on Friday in the 14th century castle's museum deep in the fortress in Transylvania, said Adrian Iorgulescu, the culture minister.

The castle, worth an estimated 19.6 million, was owned by the late Queen Marie and bequeathed to her daughter Princess Ileana in 1938. It was confiscated by communists in 1948 and fell into disrepair.

It was inherited by Dominic van Hapsburg, a New York architect who will be at Friday's ceremony, said Mr Iorgulescu. The Hapsburgs ruled Romania for a period starting in the late 17th century.

Restoration work began in the late 1980s and was partially completed in 1993. It is now one of Romania's top tourist destinations. While known and marketed as "Dracula's Castle," Bran Castle never belonged to Prince Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker's Count Dracula character, but the prince is thought to have visited the medieval fortress.

The Gothic fortress, perched on a rock, has appeared in numerous Dracula movies.

At the gates peasants sell Dracula sweaters hand-knitted from the wool of local sheep, cheesecloth blouses, and Vampire wine.

Bran Castle is the most famous of 15 citadels and fortresses in the area, which were built by peasants to keep out marauding armies of Turks and Tartars and cruel local medieval lords.

Another former royal property, Peles Castle, built in the late 19th century in the mountain town of Sinaia, will be returned to former King Michael, who owned it before it was confiscated by the communist regime in 1948.

Romania passed legislation earlier this year to return property to its former owners and establish a "property fund" to pay damages for assets that cannot be returned.


yellowdog granny said...

wow..i have seen that castle soo many times..that's cool...ooohhhh i smell a new dracula movie...prince gets new castle and as he is remodeling it..he awakens the sleeping vampire who had ruled there hundreds of years ago..and now he is awake .....and hungry....

dom said...

I Vant a Bloody film toooooo

yellowdog granny said...

dom is the contractor on the construction and dracula makes him his renfro...he ends up eating all the bugs and spackling him self into the tower.