This article is not appropriate for the faint-hearted and the once with weak stomachs. If you are under 14 I would advice you not to read this article.
For everybody else enjoy the gruesome details and legends ranked around Dracula’s home.
We will wander together through Dracula’s Castles, both located in Transylvania, which lies in the heart of Romania. There are two castles fighting for the honor of being called Dracula’s home.
One of them found in the lovely village of Bran. It was in use till 1947 and couldn’t be more lovely. The former queen lived there, before the communist revolution, now it is open for tourists.
Like a fairytale castle it is hidden between trees, a little park is inviting you to take a stroll. The castle itself is comfy and all the furniture has a female touch.
Nothing shows that this castle was built during the time Transylvania fought against the Osman empire.
This is the castle the tourist offices decided to be perfect to be Dracula’s home, but who would have thought, he actually never lived there!
It is said that he visited for short time periods, but the castle never was called his home.
But now to the really important question:
Who was Dracula?
In history books you will find him under the name Vlad Tepes. His father’s name was Vlad Dracul, it was him giving Vlad the surname “Draculea”, meaning nothing else but son of the Dragon.
Vlad Tepes became a local hero, who is said to have saved Transylvania from the rule of the Osman Empire. We won’t dive any deeper into history, let’s focus on the person instead.
He had no easy childhood. Being a prisoner of the Turks and repeatedly abused. When he came free he made himself a name as the most cruel and bloodthirsty ruler ever known. He fought the Osman Empire with everything he got.
He boiled them, buried them alive and captivated them. But his favorite method is why he is named Tepes, which means nothing else then “Impaler”
Impaling is a slow and gruesome dead, if done right the victim stays alive for 48 hours, while the stick just slowly eats itself through the victim’s body, which is pulled down by its own weight. But looking back at his childhood, the whole process somehow becomes another meaning.
Still, over the time people thought that there was no way a human being could be so cruel. They whispered he must be a strigoi….a Vampire.
But on the other hand I didn’t check the secret underground passages, hidden under the fountain in the courtyard, who knows what is down there.
Knowing now that Castle Bran isn’t the real home of Dracula. It makes you wonder, does it even exist?
Yes it does!
The real castle of Dracula
It is well hidden, not much more than a tower is left. It is a ruin, high up on a mountain, surrounded by the endless dark forest in the middle of the Carpathian Mountains where at night the wolf’s sing their songs.
It is protecting the gateway to Transylvania and is called the Poienari Fortress.
Legends say the castle was built by thousands of Turkish prisoners, here was Vlad Tepes most important battle.
At the bottom of the hill, there is a street passing by. You will have to stop at the side of the road and climb up grueling 1400 steps to reach the top.
Up there is a little stand and for a small entry fee you are allowed to enter the ruin.
But enter the ruin and close your eyes.
This is where history took place, imagine the sweat of the prisoner building the fort, the blood flowing down the mountain due to endless fights and then take a look across the mountain range, up here you will feel like the ruler of the world.
Romania has a raw beauty, a still mostly untouched nature. Not many tourists get lost there, far away from buzzing Bucharest and the charming Moldova area.
At the first castle you will be surrounded by tourist, but here if you are lucky, you might even are going to be the only one, looking over a country, standing at the same place, where once the most feared and cruel ruler did everything to protect his home.
Romania is a country where legends have deep roots, the forest is untouched, the music lures you and the time in the villages seemed to have stopped.
It is a magical place, where even the most rational people, just need a little push to be entrapped by legends and fairy tales. Even the bravest wouldn’t dare to set foot into the forest at night.
If Draculea was a Vampire or not, who knows?!
Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania, but if Vlad was a living dead or not, doesn’t matter, the castles should still be visited.
They preserved history and will tell you so many stories about people and legends, that it is easy to start believing, that maybe there is a germ of truth in this story.