October 24, 2017

3176 ROMANIA (Braşov) - Bran Castle

Located not far from Brașov, on the former border between Transylvania and Wallachia, Bran Castle is often erroneously referred to as the home of the title character in Bram Stoker's Dracula, although has only tangential associations with Vlad the Impaler, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. In 1212, Teutonic Knights built the wooden castle of Dietrichstein as a fortified position in the Burzenland at the entrance to the Rucăr-Bran Pass, but in 1242 it was destroyed by the Mongols.

The first mention of the castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary in 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Brașov) the privilege to build the stone castle on their own expense; the settlement of Bran began to develop nearby. It is believed the castle was briefly held by Mircea the Elder of Wallachia (r. 1386-1395, 1397-1418) during whose period the customs  post on the mountain pass between Transylvania and Wallachia was established. In 1438-1442, the castle was used in defense against the Ottoman Empire.

Subsequent Bran Castle belonged to the Hungarian Kings but due to the failure of King Vladislas II (r. 1471-1516) to repay loans, the city of Brașov regained possession of the fortress in 1533. Bran played a militarily strategic role up to the mid-18th century. After 1918, Transylvania became part of Greater Romania, and on December 1st 1920, the citizens of Brașov, through a unanimous decision of the city's council, offered the castle to Queen Maria of Romania. It became a favourite residence of the Queen, who restored and arranged it to be used as a residence of the royal family.

The castle was inherited by her daughter Princess Ileana who ran a hospital there in WWII: it was later seized by the communist regime with the expulsion of the royal family in 1948. In 2006 the castle was awarded ownership to American Dominic von Habsburg, the son and heir of Princess Ileana. In 2009, the administration was transferred from the government to the administration of Archduke Dominic and his sisters Maria-Magdalena Holzhausen and Elisabeth Sandhofer. The Habsburgs opened the refurbished castle to the public as the first private museum of the country.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Bats, about which I wrote here.

Bran Castle - Wikipedia
Bran Castle - Official website

Sender: Dănuţ Ivănescu
Sent from Bran (Braşov / Romania), on 31.07.2017
Photo: George Avanu / 2015

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