It is often dubbed Dracula’s Castle and lies on a remote hilltop in Transylvania in the Romanian countryside.
Now Castelul Bran, which once housed the bloodthirsty prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s famous vampire tale, is to open its doors to overnight guests - on Hallowe’en.
The castle in the Carpathian mountains – which is one of Romania’s top tourist attractions with more than 630,000 visitors a year – previously hosted Vlad Tepes, a real-life prince with a cruel habit of using stakes to impale his victims’s heads, almost 600 years ago. Tepes is believed to have inspired the Dracula character in Stoker’s horror novel.
Accommodation website AirBnB has launched a competition to find guests for the night, who will be wined and dined, then left alone to lie down in red velvet-trimmed coffins as Dracula did in Stoker’s book.
The evening will be hosted by a descendent of the author, Dacre Stoker, who will play the role of Jonathan Harker, a character from the novel who encounters Dracula.
“I want to make it both realistic and show the legend in the wonderful country that birthed the whole thing,” he said.
When the winners arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, he plans to greet them using the same words Dracula used in his ancestor’s story: “Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!”
The winning pair will tour the castle, then be treated to a candlelight traditional dinner of chicken paprikas, the same meal described in the novel.
AirBnB’s rules for the night are simple: no garlic or silver jewellery – both believed to ward off vampires – and this reminder: “The count is not a fan of mirror selfies.” According to legend, a vampire’s image cannot be seen in mirrors.
Bran Castle was originally a military fortress which imprisoned Tepes for two months in 1462 when he was captured by a rival Hungarian king.
Following the First World War, the castle was given to Queen Marie – formerly known as Princess Marie of Edinburgh. She bequeathed it to her youngest daughter Princess Ileana. In 1948, the Communists seized it from Ileana. In 2006, years after communism ended, the castle was returned to Ileana’s son, Dominic Hapsburg, a retired New York architect.
A Romanian company now manages the castle which is rented for weddings, soirees and corporate events.