Dracula's Castle (ドラキュラ城 Dorakyura Jō?), also known as Demon Castle (悪魔城 Akumajō?) or Castlevania, is Count Dracula's lair and symbol of his magic. It houses an army of his supernatural minions, and tends to collapse when Dracula is defeated. Yet, it is able to restore itself and reappears intact in later games, even the ones where Dracula has not yet revived himself.
The exact location of the castle is impossible to determine. Being an entity of chaos, it has the ability to reemerge in different places whenever it revives. Still, the vast majority of times it has reappeared was in Europe, in Transylvania.
If one takes into account the events from the original 1897 novel that inspired the series, as well as real historical landmarks where Vlad III Drăculea was known to inhabit, that may be indication that the castle from the series was at some point located somewhere in Transylvania or in northern Wallachia, where one of the voivode's real castles, Cetatea Poenari, is located.
Nevertheless, due to its supernatural nature as symbol of Dracula's magic and its ability to revive in different regions, the castle in the series cannot be considered the same as the historical landmarks. It does not exist in the earthly plane but is, in fact, a spiritual world atop another dimension. Owing to this, whenever Dracula himself is killed, the castle generally ends up collapsing and leaving no trace behind, the only known exception being when Simon Belmont confronted Dracula in 1691 up to 1698, where only the keep portion of the castle collapsed while the outer areas up to the wall remained relatively intact.
The appearance of the castle also varies; in artwork for the original Castlevania it appears to be on top of a mountain, while in Symphony of the Night it is located off the shore of a lake, and in Curse of Darkness it resides by the ocean (maybe the Black Sea). In Symphony of the Night, Maria Renard remarks the castle is different from how she remembers it (she had fought in it five years earlier during the events of Rondo of Blood). Alucard, who had probably once lived there, notes the castle is "a creature of chaos", hinting at the castle's origins and explaining its constantly changing nature.
It is possible the castle originally belonged to Walter Bernhard. His castle had the familiar strange keep structure present in Dracula's Castle. If this was the case, the castle dates back to at least the 11th Century. In 1094, the castle appeared more like a traditional medieval castle than the more elaborate Gothic architecture seen elsewhere. One factor in favor for Walter's castle being Castlevania is that, in Curse of Darkness, the abandoned castle is the place where only a Belmont's blood can gain access to the infinite corridor. Seeing as Leon Belmont was the first Belmont proclaimed at Walter's castle, the abandoned castle could be Walter's original castle.
A factor against the theory of Walter's castle becoming Castlevania is that at the end of Lament of Innocence, Mathias Cronqvist (Dracula) leaves the castle in the form of a bat and it is not known where he went, or if he ever returned. The Japanese instruction booklet for Castlevania: The Adventure outright states Dracula to have built his castle himself at the outskirts of Transylvania. Koji Igarashi has also expressed that one of the reasons for the change of the franchise's Japanese title from "Akumajō Dracula" to "Castlevania" was due to there being no Dracula, nor his castle, on a given game, indicating that the castle seen in Lament of Innocence might indeed not be the same castle that Dracula uses later down the chronology.
Following Dracula's defeat in 1999, the castle was sealed into a solar eclipse. It was later visited by Soma Cruz in 2035 and almost ended up returning, although it was ultimately sealed back up when Soma rejected Chaos, and by extension, his destiny of becoming Dracula. In 2036, Celia Fortner and her cult built a castle immensely similar to Dracula's to foster the growth of a new Dark Lord. As her plan was left in ruins, the castle completely collapsed. The castle, or at least a copy created via Legion, ultimately returned due to Olrox effectively taking over as the Dark Lord, until Death put an end to him. Arikado later made sure the castle was still sealed away when learning from Lucy Westenra that darkness was coming once more.
Rooms and features
- See also: Environments
Castlevania's interior constantly shifts between games, below are a few of the rooms that have appeared.
- Abandoned Pit to the Catacomb
- Arms Depot
- Buried Chamber
- Nest of Evil
- Underground Labyrinth
- Underground Waterway
Although the general structure of the castle is never the same from one game to another, some places keep a similar structure in some opus.
Entrance's little attic
While the castle, or a replacement, has appeared in every game that conforms the Castlevania series to date, this section mainly focuses, but is not limited, to those instances when the castle has appeared as its own named stage or area.
- Main article: Dracula's Castle (Simon's Quest)
The final act of the game actually takes place inside of Castlevania, which now lies in ruins after years of abandonment following the outcome of the first game. A few sights are still recognizable, such as the long entrance corridor adorned with tall curtains. The castle can only be accessed through the collection of all five of Dracula's body parts, which Simon must bring to the basement to burn them, resulting in a final confrontation with the Dark Lord himself, who must be defeated once again to lift the curse that befell the land after their first encounter seven years ago.
About two thirds of the game take place outside the castle, as renowned vampire hunter, Trevor Belmont, travels the Transylvanian countryside in his quest to defeat the vampire lord, Count Dracula. Throughout his journey and depending on the paths he chooses, he may meet and recruit new companions who will surely help him in this task.
Once inside the castle, the world map is replaced with one of its interior (which is very similar to the one from the first game, although this time scrolling vertically instead of horizontally). From here on, the game only consists of completing level after level (that is, no more options are given to follow different paths) until reaching the castle keep and facing the fiend himself.
This retelling of the first game retakes and expands the concept of beginning the first act by traveling across the Transylvanian countryside, passing through wilds, caves and rivers, until reaching the Demon Castle, at which point the world map is once again changed into a map of the castle's interior, this time viewed from an isometric perspective. From here on, the last levels of the game are accessed, leading to the final confrontation with the Count.
- Main article: Ruins of the Castle Dracula
- Main article: Dracula's Castle (Curse of Darkness)
In Portrait of Ruin, the main bulk of the game takes place inside of Dracula's Castle, which serves as a hub of sorts to access the game's many portraits, which are entrances to the different areas that conform the game. Furthermore, the castle itself is divided into six individual areas that are connected to each other:
This time, the castle was taken over by Brauner, who resurrected it using the souls of those dead in World War II and separated Dracula from the castle using his portraits. However, Death was also awakened alongside the castle and retains full loyalty to Dracula, and seeks to get Brauner removed to resintate its proper master.
Once Barlowe has been defeated in Ecclesia, Dracula's Castle emerges courtesy of Barlowe's last ditch sacrifice and beckons Shanoa to enter it. The castle serves as the setting for the final act of the game, and it's also divided in many individual and different sections, which all in conjunction conform about the second half of the game:
- Castle Entrance
- Underground Labyrinth
- Arms Depot
- Mechanical Tower
- Forsaken Cloister
- Final Approach
- Main article: Castlevania (Captain N)
Dracula's Castle appeared in the Captain N: The Game Master crossover cartoon series that ran from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, being a frequent setting in many episodes, where villains usually reunited to plan their evil schemes and the heroes subsequently visited in order to thwart their plans. Not to much surprise, the owner of the castle was Dracula, although in the series he was solely referred to as "The Count" (apparently, due to copyright reasons), and likewise, the castle was never called after his name, but simply as "Castlevania".
In fact, the word "Castlevania" indistinctly referred both to the castle, as well as the entire realm where it was located; being one of the many realms that composed Videoland, a virtual world where many video game heroes (and villains) hailed from.
Castlevania (animated series)
- Main article: Dracula's Castle (animated series)
The castle is the home of Vlad Dracula Tepes. During peacetime, it is his home and laboratory. In wartime, it is a weapon of such danger and potency as to be legend.
It is implied that the castle was built by Dracula himself. The building is both a technological and supernatural marvel; it incorporates electricity and advanced mechanics in its workings. In addition to using technology that is centuries beyond of what the outside world possesses at the time, the castle is also known to operate with the aid of supernatural elements.
The whole structure is also capable of teleporting to any location, which can be done softly or in an explosion of fire.
During events of Season 3 the castle is a home of Dracula's son Alucard who lives there mostly in isolation.
- Main article: Dracula's Castle (Super Smash Bros.)
Dracula's Castle is featured in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a playable stage. Renowned enemy characters from the Castlevania franchise, such as Medusa, the Mummy, The Creature and Flea Man (Igor), Carmilla, the Werewolf, Death, and even Dracula himself, appear in the stage from time to time as background elements.
The castle also acted as the main setting for the announcement trailer for Simon Belmont's inclusion to the game as a playable character, where he arrived at the castle to deal with Dracula, while Luigi, who had arrived at the castle before Simon for unknown reasons (but probably continuing his ghost-catching career from the Luigi's Mansion series), was overwhelmed by the castle's unearthly inhabitants. The full castle was then seen after Luigi screamed at the sight of Carmilla's mask.
In Adventure Mode: World of Light, Dracula's Castle appears as an area in the World of Dark, taking a form very similar to the entire map of the original Castlevania. The player must make use of cannons to dispel evil spirits and battle their way across the castle, ascend to the top, and defeat Dracula as part of the process to make Dharkon appear in the World of Dark's main hub. The characters Ridley, Daisy, Wario, Dark Pit, Robin, Ken and Richter Belmont can be recruited here.
- Castlevania: Bloodlines features an English castle called The Castle Proserpina, which serves as the final level of the game, in which Elizabeth Bartley, and later Dracula, reside.
- Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is set in an Austrian castle owned by Camilla and used as the site for a resurrection ritual for Dracula.
- Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance features a false castle spawned from Maxim Kischine by collecting Dracula's relics, which created a new soul inside of him and a castle with two layers, each one representing an individual half of him – the good half represented by a more realistic and structurally complete castle, and the evil half represented by a decaying castle accompanied by a red sky. These were both evidenced to be portions of the actual castle of Dracula, as merging them (in actuality the merging of Maxim's two personalities by eliminating the "good" one) would create the complete castle.
- Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is set in a castle belonging to Walter Bernhard. Whether Dracula now owns this castle or if it is another castle altogether is unconfirmed.
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is set in a castle which serves as the base of operations of With Light, a sect commanded by Celia Fortner. This castle was destroyed after Menace was defeated by Soma Cruz.
- Castlevania: Curse of Darkness begins in an old Abandoned Castle resembling Dracula's Castle (specifically the one in the original Castlevania), in which Hector chases Isaac. Whether it is an old castle once used by Dracula or another entirely is debatable.
- Akumajō Dracula: Kabuchi no Tsuisoukyoku has a facsimile of Dracula's Castle (and by extension, its inhabitants) being formed from Legion by Olrox as well as Graham's Cult.
- Castlevania: Harmony of Despair features several incarnations of the castle which have been manifested through the Grimoire.
- Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls features an incarnation of the castle included in the titular Grimoire.
- The word "Castlevania" was created by Emil Heidkamp, Konami of America's senior vice president at the time, who believed the game's Japanese name was translated as "Dracula's Satanic Castle", and therefore he chose to change it out of potential religious sensibilities.
- Several real life castles have served as inspiration in Dracula's design over the games:
- Neuschwanstein Castle: On the cover of Perfect Selection Dracula album and for Symphony of the Night's intro cutscene. It also appears on an early Pack-In poster for the first Castlevania.
- Alcázar of Segovia: On pages 2-3 of the Akumajō Dracula (X68000) instruction booklet, and on page 8 of the Symphony of the Night instruction booklet.
- Bran Castle: In the background of the Rondo of Blood cover and the American Dracula X cover.
- Mont-Saint-Michel: On the American Symphony of the Night cover and for the design of Castlevania (N64).
- The castle is referred as "Dracula's Tower" in an American commercial for Super Castlevania IV.
- The Dark Castle from the Boktai series (also by Konami) is probably a reference to Dracula's Castle. It is a castle that can travel in space by the combined powers of the Count and Carmilla (themselves also being Castlevania references), along with other enemies.
- The castle itself bears some resemblance to the Reverse Castle from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, mainly from the cutscene where it is introduced.
- Aside from the Demon Castle that frequently acted as the setting of the series, Soma Cruz in Aria of Sorrow twice alluded to a castle that Count Dracula owned in Europe, which was presumably referring to either Bran Castle, Poenari Castle, Hunyad Castle, or Mount Izvorul Câlimanului from the novel.
- In the first game, only the keep portion of the castle collapsed, while later games had the entire castle collapsing. This was because it was originally intended that the keep area, more specifically the clock tower gears, acted as Dracula's metaphorical heart and can only remain standing so long as Dracula himself remained alive.
- Dawn of Sorrow's Library
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: Dialogue with Graham Jones
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: Dialogue with Genya Arikado
- Akumajō Dracula: Kabuchi no Tsuisoukyoku
- Castlevania: The Adventure instruction booklet story translation
- Gamers.com Koji Igarashi interview backup
- "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and a Battle that Defined a Generation" by Blake Harris.
- Real life castles article at the Castlevania Dungeon
- Akumajō Dracula (X68000) instruction booklet
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night instruction booklet
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Genya Arikado: We're in Dracula's Castle. // Soma Cruz: Huh? Dracula's Castle? Are you telling me we are in Europe?
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Soma Cruz: Is it true that this is Dracula's castle? // Graham Jones: It most certainly is. // Soma Cruz: But, isn't Dracula's castle in Europe somewhere?
- Castlevania – Developer Commentary at Shmuplations.