După 1918, Transilvania a devenit parte a României Mari. La 1 decembrie 1920, locuitorii Braşovului, prin decizia unanimă a Consiliului oraşului, condus de către primarul Karl Schnell, au oferit Castelul Bran Reginei Maria a României, descrisă ca "o mare regină, răspândindu-şi binecuvântarea oriunde ar merge şi cucerind, astfel, cu un avânt irezistibil, inimile tuturor locuitorilor ţării".
Castelul a devenit reşedinţa favorită a Reginei Maria, care l-a restaurat şi reamenajat pentru a fi folosit de către membrii familiei regale.
The uncertain years of the World War I mark the history of the Bran Castle by a ceremonial gesture of Braşov town authorities, which – on the occasion of the crowning, on the 30th of December 1916, of emperor Carol I of Austro-Hungary as king of Hungary (under the name of Carol the IVth),– intend to mark the event by a … donation.
Two days before the big event, on the 28th of December 1916, the mayor of Braşov, dr. Karl Schnell, justifies his gesture before the assembly of town representatives as follows: “We, citizens of this free royal town, gathered for the first time since the beginning of the unfaithful neighbors’ invasion, want today to salute His Royal and Apostolic Majesty, from deep inside the heart (…) We decided today to kindly ask His Majesty, as it was in the old days, to take possession of the castle on the ancient rock Dietrich. And we offer this present with faith, as abiding subjects”.
Adding “the proud felling of the invincibility of the monarchy, after the bright successes in the East”, the mayor Karl Schnell presented this proposal to the town judge, for approval and further fulfillment. “Enthusiastically”, he established “in the name of all citizens,” that “from the part of our town, we ask him [Carol the IVth – n.n.] to receive as humble present, the Bran Castle and the park, property of Braşov town”.
History, however, did not confirm the predictions of the Mayor of Braşov, as the Austro-Hungarian monarchy did not prove to be as invincible as expected, and the “bright successes in the East” soon became a faint memory. The emperor, therefore, could not accept the offer made by the inhabitants of Braşov. After the demise of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the abdication of the sovereign and the formation of the Enlarged Romania, on December 1, 1918, such a gesture would have been pointless. Consequently, exactly two years after the Unification, on December 1, 1920, the people of Braşov, represented by the same mayor, Karl Schnell, made a gesture of courtesy towards the new sovereigns of the Enlarged Romania by giving the castle to their Queen, Queen Marie. This was also, in a way, a means of seeking the Romanian royal family's good graces, as their summer residence was not far from Bran, at Sinaia. This was also an opportunity for Bran Castle to come back to life, it weren't for the restorations made by the architect Karel Liman, on the Queen's behalf, the edifice would have probably shared the fate of other medieval monuments, which had been ruined through negligence and the passage of time.
The wording of the decisions adopted by the town council of Braşov also express the strong feelings of the people, the community at the foot of Tâmpa Mountain, towards Queen Marie of the Greater Romania, another motivating factor.
“Today, the town council of Braşov, mentioned the Donation Document as a corporation endowed with the mandate of representing the town, have unanimously decided in this festive gathering to give to Her Majesty Queen Marie of the Enlarged Romania the ancient castle of Bran, so rich in historic memories, the formerly castrum in lapide Tydrici, as a token of the profound veneration and the firm dynastic sentiments of our town. This donation is intended, firstly, to be an expression of the sincere veneration that the population of our town feels towards the great Queen who dries the tears of widows and orphans, encourages the down-hearted, offers support and consolation to those who suffer, and spreads blessings everywhere she goes, thus irresistibly winning the heart of the entire country and its people.
This donation document has been drafted as proof of our unanimous will. Signed at the meeting of the town council of Braşov, December 1, 1920.”
Years later, in February of 1930, the Queen nostalgically recalled the moment when Bran, “the little fortress forgotten across the mountains,” entered her life. “Many years ago, in a trip over the border, I saw it standing in stark loneliness on that cliff and wondered how it would feel to govern such a fortress and to transform it into a home. How wonderful it would be to revive a small medieval castle, a true fairy tale. And the unbelievable truly happened: two years after the war, the authorities of Braşov came to me in a solemn mission and offered Bran Castle to me, as an absolute gift, to be entirely mine.”
After coming into Queen Marie's possession, between 1920 and 1930, the Castle underwent a series of architectural transformations, arising out of her wish to transform it into a modern summer residence. The work was managed by the Czech architect Karel Liman, who also worked at the Peleş and Pelişor castles. Two towers were added to hold additional staircases, the ramparts and the shooting orifices became windows, the stoves and the fireplaces were transformed into modern chimneys. “Bran Castle,” recalled the Queen, “signified a newly ploughed field, the rebirth of a new vision of beauty. With the assistance of an old and reliable architect, as enthusiastic as myself, I began bringing life to the cold walls, revitalizing the old fortress that had never truly lived. I awakened it from its long slumber, transforming it from a blind object to a home that looks out at the world through its many eyes. Asleep, remote, unreachable as it was, it could not imagine being changed into a cosy and pleasant abode.”
In order to become the home of the royal family, Bran Castle was endowed with all the necessary facilities for a true royal residence. Water was provided by the fountain drilled in the castle's patio, 57 meters down. To light the castle, Queen behind their gesture. Marie ordered, in May 1932, the construction of a power plant with a turbine, to which the communities of Bran, Simon and Moeciu were connected. These were, as stated in a letter of gratitude sent by the inhabitants of the three communities to Queen Marie, “poor traditional Romanian communities that could not have received a benefit such as this in the foreseeable future,” The turbine, manufactured by the Voith company, was put into service on August 29, 1932. Additionally, an 85 HP hydroelectric power station was built on the Turcu river in December of 1932 to light the castle and its surroundings.
Communication with the outside world was facilitated through three telephone stations in the castle. The telephone installation and the power plant were modified and replaced in 1941 and 1944 at the request of Princess Ileana. As the castle had a ground floor and four upper levels, it was also provided with an elevator, just like the Peleş Castle. The elevator was finished in 1937 to facilitate the Queen's walk from the park to the castle. For easier communication with the Tea House, a cable railway was installed, which was used to transport the food the Queen used to share with her guests in the traditional five-o'clock tea gathering from the castle's kitchen. The house was provided with a cold and hot water installation, electricity and sewerage, which were specially arranged for mini-receptions in a natural setting. In 1946, a marsh gas supply was introduced at the castle.
At Bran, as in other palaces and castles, the architectural dreams of Queen Marie were plentifully manifested. Thus, a hunting house, a little wooden church, a wooden house comprised of seven rooms, and two hovels (one for the Queen, the other for Princess Ileana) were built.
Bran Castle was, along with the Balchik Palace, Queen Marie's dearest residence, as she, with her well-known imagination, transformed the solid and seemingly unwelcoming fortress into a modern and comfortable summer dwelling.
The Queen's favourite area of expertise was interior design, and the parlours of Pelişor and Cotroceni are both touched by her regal aesthetic. Bran itself was not deprived of such transformations, despite the fact that the castle's rigid architecture resisted extensive changes to the rooms. As the Queen herself stated, after ten years of renovations to the castle: “I have done nothing to take away its feudal aspect, I did not change the swiftness of the stairs, I did not deprive the roof of porches, nor have I straightened the skewed rooms. The doors have remained so low that one must duck when entering the rooms, the walls are several cubits thick, the heavy beams cross the un-arched ceilings, and there are so many floors in the castle that one hardly knows which level they are on”. After all these transformations, Bran Castle had become “a small museum full of rare treasures brought from every country.”
The transformations undertaken by Queen Marie at Bran also include the construction of external structures around the castle: the Tea House, made of wooden beams (144 sqm); the Guest House, made of quarry stone (78 sqm); Princess Ileana's Children House (43 sqm); the New Private House (176 sqm); the staff house (378 sqm); stables for horses; and six garages.
The castle was only inhabited by some members of the royal family, for whom separate apartments were arranged. Among them was Queen Marie, whose apartment included a hallway, a dressing room, two parlours (including the Yellow one), a bedroom, a bathroom and a dining room, as well as apartment where the sovereign gathered a variety of personal items (tableware, icons, statues, paintings, and books).
The Queen brought two of her cherished children close to her, Ileana and Nicolae. Prince Nicolae, to whom the Queen intended to bequeath Bran in 1930, received the most elegant apartment in the castle, comprised of a bedroom, a parlour, a room called “Princess Maşka”, a guest room, the German room, the music salon, the dressing room, a bathroom and two terraces. After his return to the Throne, in 1930, King Carol II, a passionate hunter, arranged an additional apartment at the castle (comprised of a bedroom, a parlour, a Tyrolean room and a “Doria” dining room, which he used to inhabit only when he came to hunt in the area.
Being a woman of faith, Queen Marie arranged in Bran, as she did in every royal residence she inhabited, a chapel, which was painted in November of 1927 by Arthur Verona (who was paid Lei 200,000). The chapel, endowed with a sculpted and gilded wooden altar, an iconostasis, a chandelier, three stalls, three candlesticks, two crosses and two icons, was, along with the little wooden church near the Hunting House, the place where the Queen found peace during times of trouble.
Queen Marie transformed not only the castle, but also the Bran Castle Park, which was arranged in accordance with her plans and sensibilities. Flowers were the Queen's great passion, and all her royal residences included modern greenhouses equipped with heaters, which were used during the winter. In Bran, a greenhouse and a small garden of roses were inaugurated in July of 1922, according to the architectural plans of Karel Liman and built by Klof & Co. of Codlea. The flower seedlings (roses, dahlias, chrysanthemum) were brought from Codlea as well as ordered from abroad (from Erfurt and Reading, England) including some rare species. The chief gardener of the castle was Petre Conrad (who used to have a monthly wage of Lei 3,691). Constantin Pamula remained the chief of the Royal Park of Bran until 1938.
All the flowers, not only those of Bran, but also those of the gardens of the other royal palaces, had been acquired from a flower shop and an outlet in Bucharest, located in the “Malaxa” and “Mica” buildings on Calea Victoriei. The Queen not only cared for flowers, but for trees and animals as well. In 1922, forty apple trees, twenty pear trees, fifty cherry trees, twenty-five plum trees, and seventy blueberry bushes were brought to Bran Park from the Royal Gardens Division of Cotroceni. In May of 1929, after closing the Făgăraş farm, the Administration of Agricultural and Zoological Exploitation of Bucharest was requested to send 1,000 trout (10-15 cm long) to populate the Bran Lake. Some of them were also placed in an aquarium inside the castle.
Queen Marie wished to populate the lake not only with trout, but with swans as well. She ordered Colonel August Spiess, the manager of Royal Hunts, to organize, between August 29 and September 3, 1932, an expedition on the Sinoe lake in order to acquire swans. He received Lei 3,113, which he used to “bribe” the guards at the Old Fortress and to pay the border guards who helped him catch the graceful birds. The swans caused big problems for the Queen, even leading to a conflict with the inhabitants of Bran when one of the swans was eaten by dogs. Following the incident, some of the castle's men shot the pedigreed dogs of the private residents in the surrounding area, who appealed directly to the Queen and protested.
The Queen loved horses as well, being a passionate horse-back rider. She would frequently practice the sport in the Castle Park and on the riding grounds at Braşov. The Queen herself expressed that, during those moments, “the joy of life runs like wine through my veins.” The sovereign's passion was noticed by everyone who knew her. “Her entire life,” recalled Eugen Buchman, the chief of the Chancellery at the Cotroceni Palace, “Princess [Marie]was a passionate horse-back rider, which is why several pedigreed horses were kept at the stables so that she could practice her favourite sport. Every morning she would go riding, either in Bran Park or outside of the palace grounds, on the exercise field at Cotroceni, in which case she was followed by a horseman. [. . . During the cold and snowy seasons, I often saw her riding in Bran Park, wearing a long dark blue cloak adorned with silver chevrons, similar to those worn by Circassians, and a silver dagger on her left escutcheon. Her face was ruddy due to the cold weather, and the halo of her golden hair descended from her black fur cap. She was as beautiful as the emperor's daughters I used to admire in the storybooks of my childhood.”
During Queen Marie's time, Bran Castle witnessed a period of glory as a royal residence. The domain of Bran Castle was extended by the Queen by purchasing or transferring the meadows around the castle into her property. In 1934, the Queen acquired the Măgura forest. Additional properties that belonged to the sovereign and the riding grounds of Braşov.
The total area of the Domain, as assessed after the Queen's death, was 233 yokes, in addition to 183 yokes of forest (beech and fir trees), 93 yokes of grazing fields, and 2 yokes of meadowlands.
Throughout her domicile at Bran, Queen Marie did everything she could to help the adjoining villages and their residents. Many villagers were day-employees on the Domain, either in the gardens of Bran Park or in various projects at the Castle that allowed them to earn an income. After the power plant was built, three adjoining villages (Bran, Simon, and Moeciu) were also annexed to the newly created system, and the Handicrafts School of Bran was supplied with electricity free of charge. The tradition of helping the neighbouring villages was also maintained by the Queen's successor to the castle, Princess Ileana. In June of 1939, she authorized the launching of a Community Centre for the inhabitants of the Bran community, which occupied four rooms on the Castle's ground floor. Queen Marie passed away on July 18, 1938. Her passing was the end of a glorious period in the history of Romanian monarchy. “The grief was omnipresent,” recalled Constantin Argetoianu, “as Queen Marie was beloved by all: she was beautiful and lovely. During her last years, compassion amplified the people's love for her: we all knew that, with the exception of Ileana, her children were not treating her as well as they should have. [. . .] Queen Marie died rather young, at the age of 62, the same age as King Ferdinand. One could not say, however, the she did not live her life to the fullest. She experienced all of life's pleasures, as a queen and as a woman; and lived up to some great expectations. Among the greatest of them was being remembered as a bright icon by an entire nation.”
Despite having only arrived in the country the previous day, the Queen expressed her enthusiasm to travel to Bran and to Balchik, her favourite abodes. “She told us how happy she was to be back home and how excited she was to go to Bran and to Balchik following her stay t here [in Peliso] ,” King Carol II wrote in his journal. Unfortunately, her last wish would not be fulfilled.
The Queen prepared a will and a letter “to my country and to my people.” The letter to the country is her last will and testament, both emotionally and morally. It is the ultimate confession of the love the Queen nurtured for the people she came to rule. The letter expressed, for the last time, Queen Marie's passion for the creation of her two favourite residences, Balchik and Bran,. It also expressed her wish that her heart would be brought to and placed in Stella Maris, “the church I built on the seashore.”
In her will, Queen Marie bequeathed Bran Castle to Princess Ileana, as well as several houses at Balchik. The Princess, who lived with her husband, Anton von Habsburg, in the Sonnberg Castle in Austria, , arrived too late to find her motheralive. On the very day of Queen Marie's imminent end, July 18, 1938, Princess Ileana departed on a “19-hour trip through Austria, Hungary and Romania,” alongside her husband, Anton von Habsburg.
“Very early in the morning, as Princess Ileana recalled , “we arrived at the Romanian border and we asked the border guards if they had any news from the Palace, but they told us they had no news. When we returned to Austria, ten days later, they asked us for forgiveness. 'Princess Ileana! were told that we cannot be the ones to inform you of the Queen's death'”. Nevertheless, she was present at the funeral ceremony at Curtea de Argeş. “For me, “the Princess recalled, “she was my mother, my Queen and the best friend I'd ever had.”
After the Queen's death, on August 3, 1938, the architects D. Antonescu and Eugen Dimitriu drafted the valuation document for Bran Castle and its royal Domain. The Castle was valued at Lei 4,967,500, the land at Lei 5,800,000, and the other buildings of the complex at Lei 9,264,500. As a whole, the domain of Bran Castle was worth Lei 20,032,000. After a week, on August 11, the official transfer was made and the Castle became the property of Princess Ileana, who later returned to the country for good in September of 1940, after King Carol II abdicated. Over the years, the Princess would nostalgically remember her mother's gesture: “Among other visible symbols of her love, delicacy and understanding, which are so rare even between a mother and her daughter, my mother left to me the charming Bran Castle, which we both loved so much; the sapphire and diamond crusted diadem, which made it possible for me to start a new life for my children; and an ermine cape that covers my bed during the cold nights”.
In the fall of 1940, Princess Ileana's top priority was to bring the case containing the Queen's heart, from the “Stella Maris” Chapel of Balchik, to Bran. The heart was originally placed in the small wooden church of Maramureş . The case containing the Queen's heart was eventually placed in an alcove, which was chipped into the cliff near the old church.. The heart was placed in an octagonal silver case (weighing 561 grams), which was enveloped in the flags of Romania and England. It was then inserted into a bigger case (8.1 kg), made of gilded silver and encrusted with platinum and precious stones (307 brilliants, sapphires and rubies), which was created by Maurice Froment. One face of the case bears the inscription “To Her Royal Highness, Princess Marie of Romania, from the Ladies of Romania.” In the centre of the lid the royal crown appears, placed on the Romanian flag. The panels are decorated with the Queen's monogram (“M”) and the blazons of all the country's counties, with the exception of Transylvania, Basarabia, Banat and Bucovina. The case containing Queen Marie's heart was placed in a white marble urn, wrapped in the flag of Brig Mircea, and transportedto the Stella Maris chapel in Balchik.
Years later, Princess Ileana described these moments as follows: “When my mother died in 1938, in addition to her will, she left a letter to her people, expressing a wish she had conveyed to her family many years earlier. She asked that her heart would not be buried in the church at Curtea de Argeş, where all the graves of the royal family were, but rather that it be extracted from her body and placed in a small church she had built on the Black Sea shore. She said she would be more accessible there than in the royal graveyard; that throughout her life people could approach her heart with their pains and desires, and she wished for it to remain the same after her death. Her heart was therefore brought to Balchik, to her beloved palace on the seaside. In 1940, however, the cruel decision was made in Vienna allotting that part of Romania to the Bulgarians. Several hours before Bulgaria took possession of that land, which Romania had so unfairly been forced to give away under blackmail, the faithful adjutant of my mother, General Zwiedineck, took the case containing my mother's heart and brought it to Bran. I then placed it in our little wooden church. Later, a chapel was excavated right into the cliff behind the church. A tangled staircase leads to it. I then placed the case containing the heart there. There, she remains aside, alone; a relic easily accessible to everybody.”
In 1995, a memorial plaque was mounted on the wall of the alcove in that cliff reminding all visitors that the case containing the heart of Queen Marie once rested here. Perhaps this case should find its final resting place here, at Bran, as a reparatory gesture in remembrance of the great sovereign who loved Bran Castle with all of her heart. In remembrance of her mother, whom she loved so dearly, Ileana made another Christian gesture of great nobility: she brought the remains of her little brother Mircea to the chapel inside Bran Castle. Due to the serious damage the church at the Cotroceni Palace suffered during the earthquake of November 1940, the Princess got the permission to relocate the small coffin and bring it to Bran. “He [Mircea] was the great love of my heart,” confessed the Princess. “He had not yet turned 4 when he died, in October of 1916, being one of the first victims of the typhoid fever epidemics of the war”. After the abdication of the king, when Princess Ileana was forced to leave Bran(in January of 1948), her last moments in the castle were spent praying at Mircea's grave, which remained, just as it was during World War I at Cotroceni, “the only guardian of our home.” “This time, however, the heart of his mother, in the cliff across the narrow valley, keeps him company”.
Born in Cotroceni Palace, on December 23, 1908, Princess Ileana quickly captured the Queen's heart, who used to call her “the blue-eyed child,” becoming the sovereign's dearly beloved daughter . The mother-daughter relationship blossomed over the years, particularly after the death of King Ferdinand, into a much deeper bond, based on affection, friendship and a great deal of understanding. When our good king died,” the Queen recalled, “and so many things ceased to be as they used to for us, the friendship and understanding between the two of us became, in our new-found loneliness, an almost sacred bond. We had more time for ourselves than we previously had; our duties became less demanding, we hurried less; in exchange, however, we were left with a deep void, which we filled with our love and our mutual need for each other.”
Princess Ileana also inherited Queen Marie's passions, and their mutual love for the Bran and Balchik residences brought a perfect harmony to the mother-daughter relationship. “Bran and Balchik,” wrote the sovereign, “became our cherished place of seclusion. I found my peace in creating as much beauty as possible, and my child filled this beauty with life”
Due to their common love of beauty and their steady friendship, Queen Marie left Bran Castle and the Balchik Palace to Princess Ileana in her will. The sovereign was thus able to leave this world and the beauty she created at Bran and Balchik with a light heart, knowing that her two “dream houses” would be taken care of by her successor with the same amount of passion. The Queen was not mistaken. At Bran, Ileana gave her all to perpetuating the memory of her mother and devoting herself to the tending of the wounded at the “Queen's Heart” hospital during World War II, as his mother had done between 1916 and 1918. Princess Ileana was indeed following the teachings of her mother , whom she looked towards as an example to follow: “The presence of my mother,” recalled Princess Ileana, “was radiating life and light. I cannot find the right words to describe all she means to me. I should write a complete book about this sentiment. Everybody loved her.”
On July 24, 1931, At the age of 22, Princess Ileana married the archduke Anton von Habsburg (1901 – 1988), breaking the tradition of matrimonial alliances that her brother and sisters had made with members of the royal families of the Balkans . Both the civil and the religious matrimonial celebrations took place at Peleş Castle in Sinaia. The ceremony lasted three days (July 24 – 26), and was one of the most spectacular receptions the royal family had ever organized. On Friday, July 24, 1931, at 11 A.M., the newlyweds received congratulations and gifts from their invitees in the large lobby of Peleş Castle. The next day, on July 25, a dinner-party was organized at the Peleş Castle for 600 persons, including members of the Romanian royal family, members of the family of Archduke Anton von Habsburg, members of the Government, politicians, foreign diplomats, officers and others. The religious ceremony was held on July 26, in the large lobby of Peleş Castle. The ceremony followed the catholic tradition by the archbishop Alexandru Cisar, assisted by His Eminence Vladimir Ghika. Princess Ileana, however, retained her Orthodox faith. Following the ceremony, at 5 P.M., the newlyweds left for Bran Castle.
The couple's enjoyment of their time in Romania was cut short, however, as King Carol II did not hesitate asking his sister to settle her residence abroad. Ileana and Anton von Habsburg left Romania in January of 1932, making their first stop at the Belgrade royal palace, the residence of the Princess' sister Queen Marie (Mignon) (1900 – 1961), who became the Queen of Yugoslavia following her marriage to Alexander II Karadjordjevic (1888 – 1934), the King of Yugoslavia (1921 – 1934). The King was killed at Marseilles only two years later.
After the marriage, the first problem Princess Ileana and Archduke Anton encountered was finding their dwelling abroad. For one year, they rented the München residence of Queen Marie's sister, Beatrice of Bourbon and Orleans (born Princess of Edinburgh; 1883 – 1966), who was nicknamed “Baby Bee” by her family.
Although he disliked the idea that Ileana would come to Romania often, Carol II tried, at least formally, to maintain a good relationship with his sister, to whom he often sent little gifts to Germany and Austria. As she was only allowed into the country in order to appear at particular royal family ceremonies that required her presence, Princess Ileana had to get used to the idea of losing her place of birth and tried, along with her husband, Anton von Habsburg, to form a happy family. In 1932, Ileana was living with her husband in Mödling, despite the fact that King Carol II had invited her to live at the Fabron Castle of Nice, which formerly belonged to Queen Marie. “I thank you deeply for your offer to allow me to stay at the Fabron residence,” Princess Ileana wrote to the King on July 31, 1932. “My mother told me about it immediately, but I preferred to remain here, where I had started feeling at home in several capacities. The house has become truly delicious; although it is small, we greatly enjoyed arranging it and we are now proudly observing the rewards of our efforts. The happiness that having Mother here brings me is great, but I am looking forward to the day when I'll have my baby, return to the country and we can all be together again.”
A consolation for the Princess' sensitive heart came in the summer of 1934, when the couple purchased the 400-year-old Sonnberg Palace, located 50 km away from Vienna, which “has become our most beautiful house,” confessed Princess Ileana. “There, I led a quiet life, dedicated to our ever-growing family and to the people who live around the palace domain.” Then follows an intense activity for the cleansing, restoration and arrangement of the castle, “at least twenty carts of papers, magazines, damaged furniture, rags, broken glasses and plates and actual rubbish” being thrown away.
The princess lived at the Sonnberg Castle together with the six children of hers and of the archduke Anton von Habsburg: Ştefan (born in 1932), Marie-Ileana (Minola) (born in 1933), Alexandra (Sandi) (born in 1935), Dominic (Niki) (born in 1937), Maria-Magdalena (Magi) (born in 1939) and Elisabeta (Herzi) (born in 1942). It is also from here that the Princess would send an abundant correspondence to Romania, from which her longing for the country and for her dear places, Balchik and Bran, clearly arises; places she will revisit much later, after taking possession of them and after King Carol II abdicates and leaves Romania.
Bran Castle witnessed a renewed evolution during the nine years it was in the possession of Princess Ileana. The transition unfolded rather naturally, but it lacked the sparkle and rigour of Queen Marie. Until 1941, General Eugen Zwiedineck, the former master of Queen Marie's Court, was commissioned to manage the domain. He was replaced by Carol Guttman, the former manager of Balchik Palace in 1941.
During the period of the World War II, while her spouse served in the German army and was being held as a prisoner of war, Princess Ileana took on the duties of a nurse, as her mother had done during World War I. Near the Castle, Princess Ileana founded the hospital, in which she would tend to the wounded, which would be called “Queen's Heart Hospital.” Princess Ileana would go on to write a memoir about this time in her life, entitled Hospital of the Queen's Heart, which was published in New York in 1954.
Years later, in September of 1990, when she returned to the country, Princess Ileana, who in the meantime had become Mother Alexandra, visited Bran Castle and found the hospital in a desolate state. The little church was also relocated. When King Mihai I abdicated on December 30, 1947, Princess Ileana, together with her husband and children, would leave Romania, leaving Bran Castle to the Romanian State's stewardship. During the communist regime, part of the Castle's furnishings and royal objects were dispersed. When the queen died, 2164 royal objects were inventoried. In 1957, ten years after the beginning of the communist regime, Bran Castle became a museum, which was comprised of three sections: the Castle Section, which included items from the collection of royal objects); the Medieval Customs Section, which is currently undergoing restoration; and the open-air Ethnography Section, which is located in the Castle Park.