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Historical Retrocession - The Bran Castle Goes Back to the Habsburgs

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Autor: Costin Anghel 18 Apr 2006 - 00:00
Historical Retrocession  -  The Bran Castle Goes Back to the Habsburgs


These days, the Bran Castle will be taken over by Dominic of Habsburg, the son of Princess Ileana and nephew of Quinn Maria. The new owner is an architect and lives in New York.

The Bran domain will get to its rightful owner. The ones that will get the castle are not the grandchildren of Dracula, but the ones of Quinn Maria. Dominic of Habsburg is to own properties which his legal representatives have evaluated at 25 million US dollars.

The castle known in the entire world due to its association to the character of Bram Stoker, Dracula, is to be retroceded. The Minister of Culture and Cults, Adrian Iorgulescu, stated for the press that "the agreement is almost finalized, but the retrocession decision will have to be taken first. I think this is the best formula". Even though he "cannot anticipate", the castle should be retroceded in "two or three weeks time". We have to mention that the representatives of Dominic of Habsburg have also demanded from the Romanian state some other properties at Bran, but these are not in the possession of the MCC.

"THE BRAN CASTLE, THE HOME OF MY CHILDHOOD". The son of Archduke Anton of Austria and Princess Ileana of Romania, nephew of King Ferdinand and Quinn Maria of Romania, the short presentation of the inheritor of the Bran domain. The news regarding the retrocession made the nephew of Quinn Maria very happy. This is perfectly normal if we take into account the confession of the one that is currently an architect in New York. "I spent my entire childhood at Bran, until we were forced to leave, in January 1948. I remember it all. The period between the first five and ten years of my life is the one I remember the best. It has been the forming period of my life. I remember a lot of happy moments at the castle and at our winter house (former guests’ house). There weren’t any dull moments there, we were visited by many people and I used to accompany my father when he was repairing things in my mom’s hospital, at the power plant or in the garage. I also remember the wonderful times during Easter in our beautiful wooden church or the events near the New Year’s Eve. Or the times when we used to climb up to the "Babele", in the Bucegi Mountains, and play in the fields filled with flowers. I have never seen another place with so many flowers. These are the good memories", Mr. Dominic says.

FOR THE FUTURE. I am nervous, I find it very hard to believe this. I am also happy because a mistake has been repaired. The images in my mind of us being under house arrest and then banished , with soldiers that were staying by my side as I was packing my things and my favorite toy, a fox, are the images I kept in my mind all these years. I think I will make peace with these memories once I get back to the Castle". Dominic Habsburg has also told us about his future plans for the Castle and the rest of Bran domain. "For now, my sister and I, haven’t taken too many decisions. We want to find an honorable destiny for the castle in trine to the small town of Bran and to the country. Our plans for the future have to respect the country of my mother and grandmother and the history of Romania."

THE STEPS OF THE RETROCESSION. Dominic Habsburg has been trying for years to become the inheritor of the Bran domain, also known as "Dracula’s house". "We filed the first application for the retrocession of the Bran domain on the 13th of August 2001 at the Brasov Prefecture and at the Bran Town Hall and on the 4th of March 2003 at the Bran Museum. We asked for an equivalent retrocession as the Law no. 10 in 2001 said. We evaluated the building and set its value at 25 million US dollars. This is simply estimative. The second application for the retrocession has been submitted in August 2005, when the Law no. 10 has been modified and we were able to ask for the actual retrocession of the building", Corin Trandafir, lawyer at Rubin Meyer Doru & Trandafir, legal representative of Dominic Habsburg, says. The lawyers of the son of Princess Ileana demand the Bran domain from the MCC. They want the castle and the other buildings of the domain: the Tea House, the administrator’s House, the House of Princess Ileana, the one of the gatekeeper and so on, the Park of the Castle together with the two lakes, two access ways, as well as the ciborium of Quinn Maria.

FAVORITE. The Bran Castle has been one of the favorite residences of Quinn Maria and Princess Ileana.

THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND CULTS HOPES FOR BETTER. Dr. Virgil Stefan Nitulescu, Secretary of State for the national cultural patrimony, says the MCC agrees with the retrocession of the Castle. "We believe the retrocession has valid grounds and took the necessary measures to eliminate several procedural issues which stood in the way of the release of the retrocession decision. Due to the signing of the decision, the two parts are to sign also an agreement regarding the availability of the Bran Museum for the next three years in which the institution will continue to work in the castle", Dr, Nitulescu explains.

There is an obsessive question on the lips of the people in Bran these days. "Wasn’t it better to give Dominic Habsburg 25 million US dollars, as his representatives asked at first, than this retrocession?". The response of the Secretary of State is very simple and precise. "Yes!" One of the most important terms of the agreement regards the control of the Castle which the MCC will still have even after the three years, when the Bran Castle will remain a public institution as museum. "In the following three years, Dominic Habsburg will not be able to make any changes in the domain. Afterwards, all the changes will be made with the agreement of the National Commission for Historical Monuments", Dr. Virgil Stefan Nitulescu appreciates.

TRANSHUMANCE STARTS IN BRAN. Now, when the shepherds in the Bran area start the transhumance, the castle changes its master as well. The state’s place is taken by the rightful owner. The villagers have doubts about this. They fear for the lives of the sons of the village that might be taken by the floods, but they also fear for the castle that might be taken for good in three transhumances time. There is no doubt that the Bran Castle is the main touristy attraction of the area. The tourism of the surroundings would get back to the ice age without it. It is also known that the tourists see the Castle as the house of Dracula, the Castle of the most dreadful known vampire in the entire world. Radutoiu Cosmin (vegetables’ salesman), aunty Steliana (from the bazaar) and shepherd Ion are different people, but they are all afraid of the times when Bran will not have the Museum and the famous Castle and all their computations result into being upset and broke.

"HE HAS TO BE VERY CAREFUL". At the Bran Museum, director Narcis Dorin Ion continues his daily activity. As for Bran…all the best!. "There is a rumor that a hotel is to be built here. It is hard. There are only 10-12 rooms here. And the castle cannot be transformed into a hotel. Every room has to have its bathroom. I made the toilets in 2004, and I made them downstairs, because there is no way to build them upstairs. They can only build another hotel on the fields surrounding the castle", the director comments upon the recent rumors. "I involved a lot in the castle’s administration, even though I have been accused of taking the shine off the "Dracula phenomenon" and of writing about the castle only as a royal residence. However, this is what the documents say. It is not the grandchildren of Dracula that get the castle back, but the ones of Princess Ileana and Quinn Maria. It is important that it will still be a museum for three more years, because this is the main touristy attraction for this part of the country. I believe that it will remain a museum after three years as well", Mr. Narcis Dorin Ion says. The inheritor is an architect. Will this help the castle in the future? "Yes. However, the funds are the ones that matter. The fact that the owner is an architect is one more argument for the castle to be restored. The funds are the ones that bring the problem. We are talking about huge sums of money here, especially because this is such an old monument."

Translated by SORIN BALAN
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