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For sale: 1 castle. No undead seen lately

Published January 11, 2007


BUCHAREST, Romania - The family that owns a Transylvanian castle famous for its connections to the 15th century medieval ruler who inspired Dracula said Wednesday it wants to sell the fortress to local authorities for $78-million.

The local council said it was interested in buying Bran Castle, perched high on a rock and surrounded by snowcapped mountains in southern Transylvania. Dominic Habsburg, the owner, says his family had honorable intentions for selling the castle.

"We are trying to find the best way to preserve the castle in the interest of the family and the people of Bran," Habsburg said in a statement.

The castle was returned to Habsburg, a New York architect, in May. It was confiscated by the Communists from Habsburg's mother, Princess Ileana, in 1948, the year the royals were forced to leave the country.

After the restitution, concerns were raised that the family could sell the castle and that the site could end up being the centerpiece of a Dracula theme park that would blight the surrounding countryside.

More than 400,000 visitors a year visit the castle - mainly because of its association with "Vlad the Impaler," the legendary prince whose cruelty inspired novelist Bram Stoker's creation, the vampire Count Dracula.

Vlad did not own the castle but is believed to have used it during incursions in Transylvania.

Culture Minister Adrian Iorgulescu has criticized the planned purchase of the castle. "I have nothing against the castle being bought by the City Council if they are stupid enough to pay this money," he said.




[Last modified January 11, 2007, 01:28:28]

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