Bran – A Medieval Castle

What is it that we are still deeply fascinated by times when the majority of people lived precariously under the rule of a handful of rich noblemen who devoted their time to winning battles and new territories? I cannot provide an accurate answer to this question but I can give you the name of a place that even today bears much resemblance to a dim and distant past: Bran – a medieval castle. Sometimes fascination is brought about by understanding a little something about the history of such unique places which is what the aim of this article is.

Geographical position

The Rucar – Bran mountain pass is a very strategic point as far as Romania is concerned, more so in the Middle Ages when present Romania was split into different regions. Two of the latter (Transylvania and Wallachia) were united by the Rucar – Bran pass which cut its way through two very important (and very high) mountains in the Carpathian Range: Bucegi and Piatra Craiului. Trade activities and foreign invasions were usually the main events around which the life of the villages in the pass revolved.

Fortifying Bran

At the beginning of the 11th century, the Hungarian kings started an expansionist policy that also focused on the territories of present Romania. By the 13th century, under the rule of King Andrew II, Hungary’s influence had reached the Rucar pass (from Transylvania’s side). On the other side (Wallachia’s) there was a migrating people, the Cumans, who were temporarily stationed there. As they organized numerous invasive attacks on the Transylvanian side, the Hungarians decided that they should fortify the pass to protect themselves. Knights from the Teutonic Order are said to have been brought there for protection. From the 14th to the 16th century the Hungarian Empire had a lot of fortifications built on the territory of Transylvania. As such, during the reign of Louie I of Anjou (1342 – 1382), a fortification was erected at Bran whose domain included villages like Baciu, Cernatu, Satulung, Turches, Târlungeni, Zizin, Purcareni, Crizbav, Apata, Zarnesti and Tohan. Therefore, the access to Transylvania was under military control, the garrison from Bran having the role of stopping the enemy at the entrance into the pass until troupes from Brasov or Rasnov came to their help.

As you can see, Bran is an important part in Romania’s history, a valuable witness of the Hungarian rule in Transylvania and of its attempts to invade Wallachia as well. More than that, Bran is a medieval castle, with mysteries and wonderful stories that are unveiled to each of its visitors.

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