Trakoscan Castle lies in the northern part of Croatia on 450 acres close to the Baroque town of Verazdin, known for its architecture. The castle was originally built in the thirteenth century as an observation fortress monitoring the road from Pluj to the Bednaj Valley when the Knights of Drachenstein ruled the region. It changed hands several times until in 1584 it was given to the Draskovic family who kept it in the family until they immigrated to Austria in 1944. The setting is idyllic and ideal for a hunting, fishing and sporting family. The grounds have their own stocked lake with plenty of fish. The grounds boast their own chapel with a variety of carefully assorted trees and walking trials.
The castle has undergone renovations in the Romanesque Gothic Revival styles. The interior looks comfortable and “lived in” with valuable trophies and comfortable furniture. The large library has at least 15,000 books in French and German. The castle is in an area often overlooked by tourists who visit Croatia, but provides insight into Croatia’s history that is most appealing. Today it belongs to the Croatian people as a national treasure.
Peles Castle is a lavish Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains near Brasov and Sinaia in Transylvania. King Carol 1 of Romania purchased the 500 sq. miles of land below the backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery for his royal mountain Hunting Lodge and summer retreat. No expense was spared with workers and European artisans from Italy, Germany, and other neighboring countries as well gypsy laborers.
Construction on the castle began in August of 1873. By today’s standards, the estimated cost would be $120 million dollars. The grand palatial alpine castle of 34,000 sq. ft. contains 170 room and 30 bathrooms. There are displays of arms and armor, gold, silver, stained glass and statues, not to mention one of the finest collections of art in all of Europe. This castle is definitely worth a visit while in Romania.
Not far from Brasov lies another Romanian castle. Bran Castle was constructed on a steep cliff in 1388. In 1459 one of its inhabitants known as “Vlad The Impaler”, a fierce Wallachian Prince, allied himself with Bran and Brasov to resist the Ottoman invaders. His reputation as a brutal fighter was renowned in his time. At one point he was imprisoned in Bran Castle for two months and he has become synonymous with the myth of Dracula brought to life by the book by Bram Stoker as Count Dracula. Transylvania is known for its myths about vampires and ghosts.
In 1920 Transylvania became part of greater Romania and the castle was offered to the beloved Queen Maria. The Queen restored the castle and made it the summer home of the Royalty. The grounds were greatly improved with the upkeep of the gardens, and the park around the castle was restored with tea house and pond. But the reputation of Bran Castle will always be associated with Dracula.