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Learning English - Words in the News
29 May, 2006 - Published 12:00 GMT
'Dracula's' Castle returned to owner
Bran Castle

One of Romania's most popular tourist attractions, Dracula's Castle, is to be returned to its ancestral owners 60 years after being seized by communists. The fourteenth century castle at Bran, near the city of Brasov, is one of the best surviving medieval buildings in Romania. This report from Nick Thorpe:

Listen to the story

The best time to approach Bran Castle is after midnight. Spotlights make the white walls soar suddenly above the little village of the same name. The jumble of pointed towers give it exactly the sinister air Bram Stoker imagined for the home of his hero, Count Dracula.

The return of the castle to Dominic von Hapsburg, a New York-based architect, is the latest step by the Romanian government to restore property nationalised under the communists. He's a relative of Queen Marie of Romania, who used it as a summer residence between the world wars.

The castle is one of Romania's top tourist destinations, though the links with Vlad the Impaler, the probable inspiration for the Dracula figure, are rather tenuous. At best he appears to have stayed here for a few nights in 1462 while fleeing the Turks.

Nick Thorpe, BBC News

Listen to the words

to approach
to go close to

rise up steeply

the sinister air
the mysterious and evil atmosphere

to restore property nationalised
to return to an individual person property which was taken by the government

the links with
the connections to

the probable inspiration for the Dracula figure
the real person who is believed to be the model for the fictional character called Dracula

rather tenuous
not very strong (referring to the links)

escaping from

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