By H. M. Queen Marie of Roumania

from Roumania Anniversary Number
Edited by Horia I. Babes
The Society of Friends of Roumania, Inc., New York, 1935

BranóThe Restored Medieval Fortress, "A Fairy Tale Come to Life"

It was before I built the blue cottage that Bran came into my lifeóBran, that forsaken little fortress beyond the mountains. Many years before, on an excursion across our frontier, I had seen it standing in stolid solitude upon its projecting rock, and had imagined what an enchantment it would be to possess that stronghold and turn it into a home. What romance it would representóa little feudal castle, verily a fairy-tale come to life!

And the incredible came to pass: About two years after the war the authorities of the town of Braşov came in solemn procession and offered me the castle of Bran, in free gift, for my very own!

This was indeed a marvelous event. With the same never-slacking enthusiasm I set about arranging Bran. Each house I arranged was intended for one of my children, for we always like to build into the future. The delight would not have been the same had not their loved faces stood out before me like stars, the very raison d'Ítre of all my work . . . Copăceni for Elizabeth, Bran for Nicky, and, later on, Balcic for Ileana, who loves the sea . . .

Bran was a new field of activity, a new dream of beauty to shape into life. Seconded by a faithful old architect as enthusiastic as myself, I set about giving life to the dead walls, lending a soul to the old fortress which had never really lived. I woke it out of its long torpor, I made out of a blind thing a home with many eyes looking out upon the world beneath. Somnolent, aloof, impregnable as it had seemed, it neverthe≠less allowed itself to be turned into a snug and cozy abode. I did nothing to mar its feudal aspect, modify the steepness of its stairs, heighten the ceilings of its galleries, or straighten its crooked rooms. The doors have remained so low that on entering you have to stoop; the walls are several feet thick; heavy beams span the unvaulted ceilings, and there are so many levels to the castle that it is difficult to know on which floor one is.

Bran today is a small museum full of quaint treasures brought from many lands; its courtyard is a mass of flowers, and from every window hang geraniums and nasturtiums. All around it gardens full of flowers have sprung into being, flowers in such profusion that I am able to fill the castle with them; they stand everywhere in huge earthenware or metal jars and bowls, splashing the white walls with their ardent colors. No house loves flowers more than the little castle of Bran. At night, when the lights are lit, it stands against the sky, a fantastic shadow pierced by a hundred lights.