|“||This castle is a creature of Chaos. With each rebirth, it takes a new form.||„|
|~ Alucard about Castlevania.|
The Castlevania (in Japanese: 悪魔城 Akumajō), also known as the Demon Castle, Vampire Castle, or simply Dracula's Castle (in Japanese:ドラキュラ城 Dorakyura Jō), is a gothic and foreboding castle that is the residence of the Vampire King known as Count Vlad Tepes Dracula, and the location where most of the action of the eponymous Castlevania videogame franchise takes place. It serves as Dracula's lair, as well as the headquarters of his demonic legions.
The Castlevania has been described by Dracula's son Alucard as a "creature of Chaos". It has also been described as the symbol of Dracula's power. It is connected to its owner, collapsing whenever he falls and rising whenever he resurrects; sometimes even before the Count's return, when it is summoned by his followers working to bring him back. Whether it was made from the ruins of Walter Bernhard's own haunted castle, which had many similar aspects, or it is a completely different castle was never fully explained.
The Castlevania is in some ways the source of Dracula's army and his very dark power. More specifically, it houses an access to Hell, from which Dracula can call forth demons of all sorts; as well as an access to the Chaotic Realm, where negative energy and human malice gather to fuel Dracula's Evil and which only the King of the Night (or his successor) can visit. It is also implied that the Castle's candles hold captive the thousands of souls in Dracula's grasp.
Because of its demonic nature, the Castle is always changing, never appearing twice under the same aspect, built with the same configuration, or with the same locations within its walls. It is built as a huge maze made to confuse intruders; often with teleporters that link several locations. It is also filled with various traps such as guillotines, spikes, falling chandeliers, collapsing platforms, pits, lava streams, and pools of acid, among others. Some of its areas do not even obey to the laws of physics, being filled with voids, illusionary spaces or being made from crystal, among other things. It is stated in many games that the Castle's evil attracts monsters from all over the world, hence the presence of enemies and bosses from many ancient and modern folklores within its walls. (Not to mention the monsters from movies and others.) The Castle also features many anachronisms, like motorcycles and machine guns long before they were invented, and even sci-fi (science-fiction) devices like lasers and robots. This could either be explained by the Science Lab/Tower of Science that is often includes... or more simply by the Castle's very nature.
The Castle is a product of Dracula's magic and as such, it has tremendous Dark Powers and sentience of its own. When Dracula is not around, the Castle calls for its lord. It can sense people within its walls, reacts to intrusions by sending monsters, and is able to sense people's connections to Dracula or to drag people within its walls. It could even be guessed that all the traps appear as its way to react whenever it is invaded. One more than one occasion, statues and wall ornament launched fireballs or energy blasts at intruders, or stone dogs came to life to track them down, as if the castle itself was attacking them.
Dark power pours from the Castle without end, spawning monsters within its walls and infecting the land, the people and the local creatures. Its evil influence alone threatens the life of the normal people trapped inside, as seen in Aria of Sorrow. It is also more than enough to corrupt people (be them alive or dead) or turn them into monsters. It was the Castle’s power which turned Rosa into a vampire in Castlevania 64, and likely Annette as well in the bad ending of Castlevania: the Dracula X Chronicles.
The Castlevania itself is found in the Transylvanian province of Wallachia, but it has no defined location and can appear anywhere. It is most often seen atop a mountain nearby a lake, on which floats Dracula's ghost ship, but sometimes appeared in the middle of said lake, among other places. It is constantly surrounded by mist, out of which it seems to come, and it is almost always a full-moon night around it, to strengthen vampires and keep werewolves under their curse. Despite the Castle's ever-changing nature, it is almost always organized with an Entrance, Underground Locations, a Clock Tower and the Castle Keep. The nearby lake and forest are technically not part of the Castle in itself, yet they are infected by the Castle's magic and swarmed by Dracula's hordes. The castle can also create lairs devised specifically for Dracula's closest followers to inhabit, like the Tower of Death and Olrox's Quarters. Its most recurring features include:
- The Entrance or Great Hall: Which consists mostly of large halls and stairways leading to the Castle's innermost sanctum.
- The Corridor or Marble Gallery: A long and lavishly decorated gallery that links several locations.
- The Catacombs and the Graveyard: Home of the skeleton monsters and other undeads.
- The Underground Waterway: Perhaps the place from where comes the poison that flows in the moat and most water points in the Castle.
- The Underground Labyrinth: Among other underground locations.
- The Arms Depot: The castle's armory, full of weapons of all sorts and populated by possessed blades or knight monsters.
- The Garden: Populated mostly by Plant-like monsters and insectoid creatures.
- The Villa or the Demon Guest House: An annex of the castle usually meant for high-ranking followers of Count Dracula.
- The Ruins: An unkempt, scarcely populated and mostly deserted area, rather dangerous to travel through.
- The Library: An immense library filled to the brim with countless books about every possible subject, highlighting Dracula's culture.
- The Dance Hall: Used for recreational purpose, though mostly populated by dancing spectres.
- The Theater: Another recreational area, seldom found as a level of its own and often included within other locations.
- The Chapel: It is quite surprising to find such a holy place in the castle of the Evil Incarnate, but keep in mind that the believers found here are more likely to be heretics and worshippers of Evil. Can include the Ceremonial Room where Dark Rituals and sacrifices are performed to resurrect Dracula.
- The Alchemy Lab or Sorcery Lab: Where Dracula's wizards and witches servants study the Dark Arts.
- The Colosseum: In which Dracula and his generals set fights between monsters or unleash monsters against the heroes.
- The Dungeons: With jails and torture chambers.
- The Towers: Usually many of them gathered: The Tower of Science for futuristic researches and building machines; the Art Tower lavishly decorated and filled with paintings and statues; the Observatory Tower with a planetarium and an overall view of the surroundings; the Duel Tower similar to the Colosseum; the Tower of Executions filled with lava and deadly traps; the Condemned Tower similar to the Ruins; among others.
- The Pinnacle or Top Floor: The highest point of the castle, with many chasms, bridges and platform sequences.
- The Clock Tower: In which the intruders must travel through the mechanisms.
- The Throne Room or Coffin Room: Dracula's resting place located in the Castle Keep, where the heroes challenge him.
The Castle was sometimes separated in two distinct castles, like in Symphony of the Night, in which the Dark Priest Shaft created an Inversed Castle in the sky, right over the regular one, as its base of operation. Also in Harmony of Dissonance, when the Castle was split in two due to Dracula's Spirit being reborn without being fully resurrected. Some people tried to take over the Castle for their own gain.
In Portraits of Ruins, the Vampire Lord Brauner tried to overthrow Dracula in 1944. He harnessed the Castle's Dark Powers into his bewitched paintings to prevent Dracula's resurrection and claimed the Castle as his own; only to be defeated by the game's protagonists and finished off by Death.
This happened as well in Aria of Sorrow, set in 2035. Dracula had been destroyed for good in 1999 and the Castle had been sealed in a solar eclipse. Yet, the mad prophet Graham Jones, believing to be the reincarnation of Dracula, tried to succeed him as the new King of the Night. He entered the Castle during a solar eclipse and managed to reach the Throne Room, absorbing most of the Castle's Dark Powers. However, the Castle was looking for a new master on its own, and dragged Soma Cruz, Dracula's true reincarnation, within its walls. Soma eventually defeated Graham, but the Castle transferred all the power that Graham stole into Soma, who had to enter the Chaotic Realm and defeat Chaos itself to avoid becoming Dracula's successor.
Later In 2036, the mystical prophetess Celia Fortner and her strange religious cult known as "With Light", built a castle immensely similar to Dracula's to foster the growth of a new Dark Lord and to be her own base of operations. As her plan fails and falls into ruination, the castle completely collapses.