Nicolae Pepene, Bogdan-Florin Popovici, Victor Ștefănescu, Raul Mihai
Suvenir, Brasov, 2006

Suvenir Website


a different (hi)story

The fortress of Bran, the castle of Bran. Two names that hide a reality very much sought after by tourists every year. A reality that represents Romania among The 1000 Palaces, Castles and Fortresses in the world. The fame of being the residence of the vampire Dracula that appeals to crowds of thrill seekers. But… what is the true story of the castle of Bran?

Despite appearances, despite that the fact that hundreds of pages have been written about Bran, the true story of Bran — castle and village — is not necessarily well-known. And, on the other hand, it is disputable if this true story—the known one or the presumed one—was spectacular enough to attract attention that it has. A small fortress on the top of a hill, a corner of an empire, a pass between two worlds, an imaginary residence for the Vampire (the image of the castle indignantly and hypocritically criticized by “professionals”), the real residence of a romantic queen—could all these be the components of a successful model for Romanian cultural tourism?

Perhaps a little of everything contributes to the celebrity of the castle. Anyway, it seems obvious that the great advantage of Bran Castle is… to exist: a relic, functional enough, like a messenger of times past. For its story, more or less thrilling, speaks through its well preserved walls of another world, about a past—and therefore mysterious— universe, about a lost world—but alluring nonetheless, because it was different.

It does not matter if the visitors of todays castle have their minds full of the myth of Dracula or of Queen Marie of Romania; in the end they pay for a fragment of those old times which this castle can offer them.

The authors hope that this historical album will be a souvenir for the fans of history and arts and for the rediscovery of the old way of life, lived inside and outside of the castle. Today, after many restorations and re-buildings, the castle truly speaks only to connaisseurs, to those who can identify a medieval arch mixed with a 19th century abutment and a loggia from the 20th century…

With the belief that the image, beyond its artistic beauty becomes a way of travelling into the world of yesterday, Bran, Image and History tries to present the fortress through the times, as it looked like, as it appeared in the eyes of the people of yesterday. A special (hi)story that presents a vivid life that no study or writing has managed to fully draw it. A middle-ages Bran, with more or less fantasized drawings of the fortress; a modern Bran, with an “unconventional” fortification that had a new life as the mythical fortress of the German Knights; eventually, the inter-war Bran, that was transformed by Queen Marie in to something more than a simple residence: a museum of a collector, an expression of the artistic fantasies of the sovereign.

This project was initiated in the end of the1990s, independently by two teams of enthusiasts of Bran and its history: the historian Nicolae Pepene, ex-custodian of Bran Museum and Victor Emil Ștefănescu, collector, respectively Raul Mihai, then General Manager of the Museum of Bran Castle. At the beginning of 2003, the two teams unified their efforts and collections, and the archivist Bogdan-Florin Popovici also joined to the project, conducting research in foreign archives and libraries. In April, 2004, Raul Mihai passed away prematurely, and so the task of completing the project rests on the other members.

The completion of this album proved to be a very difficult task. The enormous amount of documentary sources, their vastness, the difficulties of choosing the most representative images—both from the historical and from the artistic point of view—, the form of presentation all meant real challenges. Modern information techniques, our colleagues, our friends, the desire of the team to succeed and mainly its “sacrifice” to get rid of the obsession of editing all that has been collected—all contributed to overcoming the above mentioned challenges.

For these reasons, we must thank all those who have supported us, one way or another, in the completion of this album. So, we extend our heartfelt thanks to our friends and colleagues from Brașov (Mr. Gernot Nussbächer; The National Archives Division—Mrs. Elisabeta Marin; County Etnographical Muzeum—Mrs. Ligia Fulga, Mr. Ioniță Andron), Bucharest (The National Archives— Mr. Marcel Ciucă, Mrs. Carmen Dobrotă, Mrs. Diana Joița; The National Library—the late and lamented Ion Mamina; The Library of the Romanian Academy), Budapest (The National Library „Szechenyi” (OSZK)—Mr. Béla György; The Office for Preserving Cultural Heritage, The Hungarian National Museum, The Military Archives, The Institute of History near the Hungarian Academy of Science—Mr. Zoltán Szász), Gundelsheim (Siebenbügen Institut—Mr. Christian Rother), Sibiu (Bruckenthal National Museum— Mr. Sabin Adrian Luca, Mr. Adrian Georgescu, Mr. Elena Popescu; The Institute for Socio-Human Studies of the Romanian Academy—Ms. Anda Spânu), Vienna (The Military Archives), Mrs. Georgeta Penelea Filitti, Mr. Herman Fabini, Mr. Gh. Corcodel, Mr. Emil Stoian, and of course, to the others, not listed here, to whom we are deeply indebted. We also want to thank the Domus Hungarica Scientiarul et Artium Foundation for generously granting two research scholarships in Budapest.

Also, we are grateful to our families that shared the project with us for several years.

To all, we express deep gratitude and we hope that the final product matches their expectations.