One of the many spectacular things about visiting Romania is its abundance of magnificent castles. From Bran Castle to Poenari Citadel, Romania boasts some truly extraordinary structures that stand the test of time.
But these magnificent castles offer more than history: some are also stunning architectural marvels that will leave you speechless and taking pictures like never before!
1. Bran Castle
Bran Castle was built during the 14th century to protect villagers in Transylvania, making it one of the most iconic castles of Romania. Although steeped in legend and myth, its beauty still makes for an amazing visit.
At its location in Bran-Rucar Gorge, this castle served as a military base in its day. Thanks to its strategic position and ample protection against potential attacks by Turks, Mongols, or any other foreign powers.
An impressive Gothic castle is an attraction for tourists looking to step back in time and experience Transylvanian history, but this landmark also holds a hidden secret! When Queen Marie restored it in 1920, she discovered a secret passageway within one of its rooms that connects it to one other room in the castle.
Now open to the public, this mysterious hideaway provides visitors an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Dracula himself. Although Dracula wasn’t originally from this region, his story and associated tourism have made his castle one of Romania’s premier tourist destinations.
Inside the castle you will discover winding stairways leading to 60 timbered rooms and underground passages with displays of furniture, weapons and costumes from 14th-19th centuries – plus, you may discover an intriguing secret tunnel accessible only through purchasing an additional ticket!
Replicas dominate many of the items at this museum, which is unfortunate as exploring these rooms and seeing paintings and furniture that once graced this castle is truly rewarding.
Queen Marie made sure her castle met all of her needs and preferences – you might even spot some of her personal objects!
She was an exceptional decorator and truly made the castle appear like something out of a fairytale. She extended windows, built new spiral stairs, installed telephone lines, tap water and electricity lines and set up telephone answering services; also renovating its park and adding Tea House, guesthouse and staff housing facilities.
Castle Marie is currently owned and open to visitors as a private museum; however, plans exist for it to re-emerge as a public museum as part of efforts by the Communist regime to reclaim properties illegally taken during their rule.
2. Poenari Citadel
Romania, known for inspiring Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, boasts many breathtaking castles. Ranging from military fortresses to royal homes, these medieval relics should not be missed by travelers looking to step into history and admire some of the oldest architecture in the world.
Poenari Citadel was initially constructed as a castle for Wallachia’s Voivode Negru Voda in Wallachia during the 14th century and later fortified, later becoming more impressive due to Vlad Tepes taking control in 1456 and rebuilding Poenari Citadel with more towers and solid brick walls.
Poenari Castle remains in disrepair today, yet still offers an incredible sight. Featured in countless movies and television shows.
Poenari should definitely be included on your itinerary when visiting Romania! Be sure to also stop in Fagaras – once one of Vlad Tepes’ main residences.
Visit this impressive castle ruins and gain some history as you discover about an enigmatic vampire who once ruled over Transylvania during its glory days. Additionally, this UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts tourists from around the globe due to its beautiful scenery and immense historic significance.
As well as its historic ruins, there are also museums and churches inside this massive fortress. Additionally, this is an ideal spot from which to watch the sunrise over the Carpathians.
An intriguing fact about this magnificent palace is that its design was guided by the spirit of child prodigy Iulia Hasdeu who died from tuberculosis at 19 years of age. Her father, writer Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu sought spiritual assistance and was guided by Iulia’s spirit to build this unusually small and elegant castle featuring three towers with staircases featuring only seven steps – making this piece truly magical!
3. Sighisoara Fortress
Sighisoara Castle in southern Transylvania is one of Europe’s most breathtaking castles and an official UNESCO World Heritage site, making it unique among medieval fortifications as it remains inhabited today. Sighisoara combines history, culture and beauty into one truly unforgettable visit.
The citadel is an impressive 12th-century Saxon fortress that remains relatively undisturbed since Medieval times. Surrounded by walls with 14 towers and five artillery bastions – each whose construction was sponsored by one of the city guilds – nine remain standing today.
Each of these fortifications is both beautiful and fascinating – an example of Saxon architecture with its own character and personality.
Sighisoara offers many attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy, with popular highlights being the Clock Tower, Weapon Museum, Casa Vlad Dracul, and Church on the Hill being must-sees for anyone visiting its citadel.
Climb the Clock Tower and take in stunning views over Sighisoara citadel and town. This iconic symbol has served many functions throughout its long history.
Clock Tower now houses the History Museum and boasts exhibits spanning ancient to modern history. Furthermore, you can visit its special room known as Torture Chamber that has been preserved from Medieval times to still house torture weapons.
Are you searching for an unforgettable way to explore Sighisoara Citadel? Consider joining one of their guided tours – these will allow you to find your bearings, navigate its narrow streets and enjoy some of its finest attractions with expert narration and fun activities!
As part of your visit, you will gain insight into the history and inhabitants of this medieval fortress, its culture and some key events from this period.
Experience life during the Middle Ages through its impressive medieval towers and colorful buildings of the citadel for yourself with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Step back in time with us.
4. Banffy Castle
Banffy Castle, situated in Bontida and dating back over seven centuries, is widely acclaimed as an incredible structure in Romania. As its largest castle in Transylvania and one of its oldest attractions.
Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach later altered it into Baroque style with a park along Somes River that included statues and fountains as part of its decoration.
This castle, initially dubbed “The Versailles of Transylvania”, has undergone significant modifications over time. When first constructed as a court of honor palace with an U-shaped plan and gallery of statues.
Over time, it was expanded in Baroque style through the addition of a court of honor, stables, servants’ wings and a park featuring statues and fountains – taking inspiration from Viennese architecture of the Habsburg Empire.
Change was evident even before nationalization in 1948: following this event, the castle suffered severe degradation; bricks from buildings used as building material were used by villagers for new structures.
The last owner was Count Miklos Banffy, who remained until 1944 when he moved out. Banffy was an accomplished writer, politician, graphic artist and opera director all in one person.
During German occupation, his castle was looted and burned as punishment for its pro-Allied policies; furniture, library books, and portrait galleries were destroyed as a result of this act of vandalism.
Over time, the castle served as a driving school, cooperative farm, and hospital for children. Additionally, it served as decor for filming some scenes of Padurea spanzuratilor by director Liviu Ciulei.
Nowadays, the castle has made great strides toward recovery from its troubled past and offers an unforgettable experience for tourists. Each year at Electric Castle Festival music lovers can experience live performances in an idyllic setting – not forgetting an unforgettable Electric Castle Festival itself!
This historic estate offers an intriguing combination of medieval fortifications, contemporary art and technology, music concerts throughout the year and hosting of an annual music festival that brings in significant revenue to support its restoration efforts.