September 20th, 2007
Bran Castle, for centuries linked with the legendary Count Dracula, is now at the heart of a row between a number of Romanian MPs and an American architect. The building dates back to the 14th century and its ownership is soon to be passed on to a New York architect, Dominic Hapsburg. Mr. Hapsburg is a distant descendant of the Hapsburg family which ruled great swathes of the region during the late 17th and early 18th century. Now, however, certain Romanian MPs have argued that the transfer of the castle’s ownership to a foreigner with no direct links to the country is illegal.
Bran Castle has single-handedly attracted thousands of visitors to what is otherwise a very desolate part of the Romanian countryside. The castle, itself, is situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, some 105 miles north of Bucharest, the Romanian capital. The Dracula myth generates hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of revenue for the otherwise impoverished local residents. As such, the Romanian MP’s opposition to the ownership transfer comes as little surprise. However, Mr. Hapsburg has assured his opponents that he will take the matter to the country’s courts if ownership of the castle isn’t transferred to his name. His lawyers have stated that their client will sue for damages of up to $200 million if he is refused ownership rights. Speaking to the media, Mr. Hapsburg stated:
“I (feel) like I (am) a misplaced person… like I was at home everywhere and at home nowhere. I live once more with the feeling of dread in which I once lived, as a child, when my family and I were forced out of our home and thrown out into the streets in mid-winter.”
Bran Castle has undoubtedly had a very interesting history. Whilst Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince upon whom the Dracula legend is based, never actually resided in the castle, he was known to have visited the fortress on a number of occasions. During the early 20th century, Romania’s Communist rulers seized possession of the castle and it gradually fell into disrepair. It was, however, carefully restored after the fall of Communism and in recent years has also provided the setting for numerous Hollywood films.