Dracula, vampires, bats- you name it- they all have a close relationship with Transylvania- that world famous spooky area of Romania that is the scene of so many terrifying stories and legends.
Bram Stoker's vampire - Dracula, is the fictional star of this region, but many of the dark and foreboding castles that you can visit there are linked to a even more terrifying man - the 'real Dracula', or Vlad the Impaler. Well, they always say that the truth is stranger than
Vlad The Impaler
Bram Stoker's fictional vampire, Dracula, was in fact based on Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad II, Son of the Dragon as he is also known. Vlad was a ruler of Transylvania in the 1400s and he was a blood-thirsty man with a horrendous appetite for cruelty. This man is said to be responsible for the deaths of more than 80,000 people (remember that the population of the whole of Europe was only 50 million people in those day). In any case, whichever way you look at it, 80,000 is a big number.
Vlad the Impaler was christened Vlad III, Son of Dracula - (Dracula was his father's name, it translates as 'dragon'). He spent much of his life going after the families of all those opposed to his reign. Hi favourite method of killing was to impale his victims on sharp spikes - entire towns were impaled and arranged as forests to deter his opponents.
But it was the manner of the executions that were so disturbing- he was fond of drawing out the impalings, leaving his victims to die slowly on the poles. The bodies would be left to rot as a warning to others. He also liked to burn his victims alive; and to gouge out their eyes and chop off their limbs- a real psychopath.
According to legend, Vlad used to drink the blood of his victims; hold feasts next to the bodies of his victim and even cook and eat the flesh of those he executed.
There are always 2 sides to every story though, and some Romanians see him as something of a hero as he managed to stabilise the country through his aggressive tactics. Remember, this was the Medieval times- an era that was known for its widespread cruelty.
Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Still, whether you think Vlad the Impaler was a blood thirsty tyrant or a strong leader, you can see how he inspired Bram Stoker to wire Dracula.
His novel 'Dracula' hot the shelves in the 1890s and was an instant hit. Although this wasn't the first book about vampires, it was the first to create such an impact and from this the Dracula legend was born.
The book was written in 1897 by Irish author Bram Stoker- this was when Count Dracula was born.
The book tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England to prey on new victims and find new blood.
Where Would You Find Dracula
In Transylvania of course! Bran Castle is commonly thought to be 'Dracula's castle'. It´s certainly pretty foreboding. Hunyad Castle (or Corvin Castle) is another candidate- it´s a castle that will make your blood run cold when you see it. It´s closely linked to Vlad the Impaler, the real life Dracula. He was even held prisoner in the dungeons and some say that he went insane there.
Stoker filled his novel with descriptions of many locations that can be visited today in Romania. The 14th century town of Sighisoara is where Vlad was born - that should get you in the mood. There´s also the Old Princely Court (Palatul Curtea Veche) in Bucharest, Snagov Monastery, where Vlad's remains were buried; the Poenari Fortress ruins (another contendor for Dracula´s castle) and the village of Arefu where Dracula legends are still passed down through the generations.