Letter from Castle Dracula
The newsbullettin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula
Built in 1377 by the citizens of Brasov to defend the Transylvanian end of a pass to Valahia, a custom-point and the administrative seat of the Bran domains, this rough military stronghold was smoothed into a romantic-looking castle by Queen Marie of Romania (grandniece of Queen Victoria) - once she received it as a gift in 1920 from the municipality of Brasov. Bran is one of the few standing European castles of the 14 century.
Beginning 1960, with Romania opening up for international tourism, the Americans likened it to "Castle Dracula" on account that "it looks very much like the castles of the vampires in the Hollywood movies". Obligingly, the local craftsmen and vendors filled the shops around with pullovers reading "Transylvania" and "Dracula", with Hong-Kong made screaming witches, with masks "made in Taiwan" etc. To sell "castle Bran" as "castle Dracula" is taken for granted by very many travel agencies, today, in spite of the heroic resistance of the custodians (it is weird to see the castle itself, with no hint on Dracula anywhere, surrounded by a belt of shops pushing Dracula. An island of scholarship in a sea of consumerism).
In May 2006, castle Bran - nationalized in 1948 - was returned to the heirs of the former owner, Queen Marie: to a nephew of the queen, Dominic of Hapsburgh (son of the queen's daughter, Princess Ileana, and of Anton Franz Leopold of Hapsburgh, archduke of Austria and prince of Tuscani).
Dominic of Hapsburgh (living in Westchester, New York) did spend summers at Bran till aged 11. He came to sign the ownership papers which stipulated that the castle will continue to be a public museum for the next 3 years. Then Dominic announced that he would sell Castle Bran for US$ 25 million. How sentimental of him! The call was not left unanswered: the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovici (owner of Chelsea football club) - who had already bought a fortress on Capri and a palace near Moscow (and who wishes to buy castle Waldschloss in the Alps for only $ 15 million) - said he would look into the matter.
Will the Romanian government - which has the right to buy the castle ahead of anyone else in the next 3 years - employ this right?
Or will Roman Abramovici share castle Bran with Dracula?
"Everything we can imagine, exists" (Plato)
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