Rasnov, the real castle Dracula …

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ October 4th, 2007. Updated on September 16th, 2009. Published in: Travel blog » Romania.

Travel Journal Overview: Disappointed with Castle Bran, I went in search of a better castle. Quite by accident I stumbled upon Rasnov. A strange quasi Brasov, Hollywood, rundown tourist, great place with a better castle.

Castle Rasnov, Transylvania, Romania (click to enlarge)

Castle Rasnov, Transylvania, Romania (click to enlarge)

The next morning I headed to the Italian place for a Quatro Queso Pasta dish with a coke, I needed something to fill me before heading off to Rasnov. A place I’d seen the day before in the distance. I knew little of it, other than it looked more like a real castle than Bran’s.

The bus journey was the same as the day before, hot and jammed with tourists and locals. The quantity of people meant it was difficult to see outside for all those landmarks I had painstakingly taken note of the day before to tell me where the unmarked bus stop was. Thankfully the giant “RASNOV” eyesore prompted me to get out without missing the stop, albeit I was on the other side of town. However this gave me time to take a tour of the little neighbor of Brasov with the semi-original giant sign.

The town was more like the very poor distant cousin to the other two tourist hotspots, the streets were devoid of tourists, unkempt and everything had a unfinished roughness to it. Still I was not complaining, there looming above me perched on a forbidding mountain stood the ruins of the Peasant Castle, giant “RASNOV” sign destroying any hope of a good photograph. Idiots.

I followed the road, and began the ascent up a pleasant non pedestrianized road, pine trees intermingled with natural wood framed housing, both old and new. The air was cool refreshing, and I began to feel a bit better. Finally I approached a large restaurant sitting right in the middle of the road it seemed, only one vague sign pointed me to the “Peasant Castle”.

It seemed Sundays were when Romanian Security company’s took their guard dogs out for walks as the place was covered in giant barking monstrosities. I took the rough gravel strewn pathway up into the mountain. Tall pine trees loomed over head darkening the pathway somewhat as my feet crunched in the gravel and the dogs barked and howled below. . . yes I was starting to get a good movie like feeling about the place already. One could easily imagine a poor you Mr. Harker on a horse drawn carriage being taken to an unknown fate in the castle above.

I continued up the steep path, imagination helped be the lack of tourists. Then from around a corner I came and my eyes set upon the massive forbidding structure that was the Peasant Castle. Surely the writers had got it wrong, this place knocked Bran to its knees. Steep fortified walls surrounded the castle itself, a winding path led to a small side entrance that looked as if it were perched above a cliff face, the giant Carpathians lined the horizon. My camera was out like a shot.

I paid the 10Lei entrance fee, and even the 5Lei camera fee, this place was worth it all. Old wheel barrows, items of human torture lay perched against the street sides. A huge wall sized crucifix of Christ hung from a ruined house. I made my way around the neat but rough streets within the castle, little shops took residence in some of the old housing, nothing to garish, mainly paintings, crystal rock and yes one selling Dracula t-shirts. But few tourists, and those that were there were Romanian tourists.

I spent over an hour, walking through the crumbling old ruins. A panoramic view from the top gave a spectacular 360 of the area. Carpathians to the west and south, town to the north, fields to the east. An old suspended prison cell hung out from a tower. If it were not for the fact the place was crumbling apart, it would have looked too staged, but here it was perfect.

I made my way out to the court yard where there was an archery area set up, unfortunately it was closed. A large Stallion grazed alongside two donkeys in the main courtyard as a friendly caretaker looked on with a smile and a wave. What a blissful place, if only I had brought my book. I toured a second time, stopping off at the museum. A female skeleton was on display having been unearthed during renovations, and demonic sketches lined the walls. Even a painting and scripts from Vlad were on display.

I left very happy and content with my day. Not even harassment from a town drunk could spoil me euphoria. The idiot very nearly got a shove from me as he came to aggressively close, but backed away after a shout. Squeezing on the overly packed bus I headed back to Brasov.

After a failed attempt to find a steakhouse … well I did actually but for the first time I had come across and expensive restaurant, so setting the menu down I headed off to the giant spit roasted Pork Leg place for a well deserved feast. Over dinner I couldn’t help but think of the Trio of little towns I had visited during my friction recover the past few days. I can only come to this conclusion.

10 or so years ago the council folk of Bran realized that they could cash in on the Dracula legend and so spun a yarn about Vlad visiting the tiny little castle on a rock between two big mountains. I personally would say Vlad might have stopped by to ask for directions to the giant forbidding all conquering castle at Rasnov. Unfortunately the town council of Rasnov have taken a leaf from Brasov’s book and just erected a giant Hollywood style sign in front of there truly worthwhile and genuinely more likely castle of terror. The misspellings of all the tourist info leaflet told me at least they were trying, yet the tourist board were not quite with the game yet.

Time was ticking, my friction burns seemed to be doing well. I paid the old Hungarian lady for one more night. I needed Monday for email, diary writing and to search out my ticket options. Where to next? There was a town to the north that seemed pleasant, and a hostel offering free washing. Considering I was out of clean clothes, (the Hungarians offered, but the musty smell of their clean towel told me no), it seemed another small town visit would do. But deep in mind I was troubled about the visa options. Should I forgo Moldova and head straight to Visa land? Moldova held an interest, but not at the expense of more tourist nightmares. What’s more over breakfast I finally added up the days and discovered I was out of time?!!! Only 7 days left, before the comfort zone was over….

I headed off to the train station to buy a ticket to Sighisoara, birthplace of Vlad. It was then taking that same route I had walked 5 days earlier I realized that I had indeed done quite the impressive journey that 6am day. Not only had I managed to follow a mapless way into the center, but had done so on 3 hours disturbed sleep in the last 48 hours, with little food and a 30kilo load. No wonder I had been so exhausted. Ticket bought I did a quite preamble around the station and took note of where the platform was.

I headed out to dinner that night for one last good meal when I saw a couple LP in hand and asked if they were looking for somewhere, a couple in their late 20’s, so no party hostel for them. I took them to the Hungarian residence where they seemed quite happy. We exchanged some notes as they were coming from Sighisoara and I headed off to dinner.

My time was surely up in Brasov, I took a risk with the menu and ended up with 700grams worth of heavy slabs of Ewe cheese, cottage cheese and someother kind of white cheese. Now I like smelly cheese, but I recognised the engine oil come rancid cream smell of this Ewe cheese from the market, and I truely balked at it. Talk about foul. But I surcomed to having paid 5 euro for it, and ate as much as I could. My only consulaton was that I would most likely end up in another party / Snorers hostel tomorrow night so what better way to piss them off but with Ewe cheese farts?!!!

Back at the Hungarian Residence I noted that the person staying in the first, of three rooms had strangly left his door open. I opened my own door, and heard the bathroom one close. That explained it, he had run out for a quite pee. I started my prepacking, and after 30 mins the sound of rushing water from the bathroom grabbed my attention. I went to investigate only to discover that the toilet was leaking from the cistern into the bowl, I opend the cistern and twiddled a bit with the top pull gadgetry and temporarily stop the flow. It was then I heard the door of the first room open and shut again, ah ha, the culprit.

I had images of a young backpacker breaking the toilet just before I came back entered by head. A new conclusion. Later that night I heard the couple I’d brought to the residence come back, and rebroke the toilet, thankfully they managed to also put a temporal fix on it. Unfortunately the little idiot who most likely broke it in the first place flushed at 5am and made no effort to fix it again, hence I was awake since 5am.

Related Links:

Travel  Guide to Romania

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1 Great responses to Rasnov, the real castle Dracula …

  1. director-turism says:

    Rasnov fortress was sort of miniature city, where there were houses and workshops
    Built of stone and brick, the city has high walls de16 feet, their thickness reaches five feet.
    A sharp spikes carries a large iron cage, and a strange instrument used to torture prisoners, recall past bustling Rasnov fortress.

    But Vlad Tepes (Dracula) never lived in Rasnov. Are just legends.
    The real place where Dracula lived was near the Arges River at a place called Fortress Poienari: