Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dracula Lives Again

If you read last season’s blog posts or have been by the Key Room recently, you have probably seen the addition of a replica key from one of Dracula’s castles. Although this key joined our collection almost a year ago, we just received the key’s official documentation from Bran Castle.

          As mentioned in the letter itself and in a previous blog post ( ), Bran Castle was built in the 14th century in Transylvania’s Carpathian Mountains. The picturesque fortress is located in an area that was an economic crossroads and suffered many military invasions. Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler or simply Dracula, is thought to have resided here during his reign from 1456-1462. During this time he instilled order throughout the country, though at high costs. His nickname “the Impaler” derived from the way criminals, foreign enemies, and those who spoiled his notion of a perfect society were punished: impalement. This is one way he became connected to Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire (although, another “living vampire” named Countess Elizabeth Bathory inspired Stoker’s count more than Vlad Tepes did). Since then Bran Castle has been called Dracula’s Castle, even though it was modernized and beautified by Queen Marie after World War I. In 1958 it solidified its place in history by becoming a museum that tourist still frequent today.

From 1836 to 1920, the key whose replica we received was used to unlock the main gates to Bran Castle.  In 1937, though, during Queen Marie’s residence, it opened a secret passageway from the inner courtyard to the Royal Park outside, where the queen rode horses every morning. Today, the key rests in the famous Key Room as part of The Baldpate’s key collection. Come by and decide for yourself whether it looks like the key to Dracula’s Castle or Queen Marie’s beautiful Bran Castle!
Key Room Museum Curator