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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Son stakes Dracula castle claim
Bran Castle in Transylvania
Restoration work began on the castle in the 1980s

One of Romania's most popular tourist attractions, Dracula's Castle, has been returned to its ancestral owners 60 years after being seized by communists.

The castle in Transylvania was handed back to the Habsburg family in a special ceremony.

US architect Dominic von Habsburg, who inherited the castle, was forced to leave with his family in 1948.

The 14th-Century fortress - whose real name is Bran Castle - has appeared in dozens of Hollywood Dracula films.

It was owned by the late Queen Marie who bequeathed it to her daughter, Princess Ileana, in 1938.

When the communists took power in Romania, the castle was confiscated and fell into disrepair.

The castle has since become one of Romania's most popular tourist attractions.

It has always had associations with the prince, Vlad the Impaler, famed for his cruelty and who inspired Irish author Bram Stoker's Dracula character.

Although he did not live there, the prince is thought to have visited the fortress several times.

"Going home"

The Habsburgs, who will now own the castle, ruled Romania in the late 17th Century.

Dominic von Habsburg, now based in New York, was 10 years old when his family was put under house arrest and then made to leave.

He told the BBC he had never given up hope of getting the castle back and said he was finally going home.

"I felt like I was a misplaced person. I felt like I was at home everywhere and at home nowhere," he says.

A new law passed in Romania in 2005 made it possible for former owners to claim property seized during the communist era.

Romania has no stake in Dracula
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Timeline: Romania
04 May 06 |  Country profiles


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