‘The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit.
The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!‘ (Chapter 2, p. 34, Dracula- Bram Stoker).
Somewhere in the land of Transylvania, surrounded by legends and myths, Dracula’s Castle has rested for centuries. If you believe in vampires, then this destination is a must see to put on your bucket list.
Paradoxically, the great Irish writer, Bram Stoker, who created the masterpiece ‘Dracula’ in 1897, had never been to Transylvania, but he visualized the Castle perfectly. The Irish novelist assembled Dracula’s legends in his gothic book, inspired by Vlad the Impaler, the cruel ruler of Wallachia in XV century.
It is believed that he killed between 40,000 to 100,000 enemies, criminals and political rivals. His favourite method of punishment was to impale them with wooden spikes. A local legend says that there was a practice at the time, where the winner of a fight had to drink the loser’s blood. This is thought to be how Vlad the Impaler became a ‘vampire’.
Another tale from the surrounding Castle villages says that while Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) ruled, the peace, honesty and justice reigned in his territory. Usually, in those times, there were water fountains at junctions. In Vlad’s land, all the water fountains had two gold chalices so that every thirsty person might drink. One morning, a local peasant went to the fountain to get water for his family and he discovered that the two golden chalices were gone. In that instant, he knew that Vlad the Impaler didn’t exist anymore.
Still, even though it is surprising, these days, local people are very superstitious, especially the elderly. They hang garlic on their house’s doors or windows for protection and they believe in bad spirits or the undead. These evil spirits are thirsty for blood and come out to hunt at night time. Also, they have the power to influence or control people’s thoughts, especially when they are dreaming. At dawn, the evil spirits’ power fades away.
In order to stop the undead, dead people had to be unburied and have their hearts pierced by villagers or a priest with wooden stakes of oak, yew or ash wood. At the exhumation, the body was found many times in the coffin in an unusual position. According to their belief, that’s the only way the spirit will be sent away, out of this world.
Besides the mythical aspect, Dracula’s Castle was inhabited by rulers, queens and kings, and served as a strategic military location in various conflicts.
The architecture of the Castel is medieval gothic, with massive doors, towers and secret rooms and passages.
It is not only the castle that is marvellous, but the entire region. The Castle is positioned between the Piatra Craiului and the Bucegi Mountains. The view is breath-taking, all year around. The simplicity of the landscape, the wildness of nature, makes you feel that you are in another time, in a fascinating world.
Now, if you are curious to find out the truth, if the legend has a core of veracity or not, it is better to go and find out more about the bloody ruler that inspired the legend and see the majestic Castle where he lived, in County Brasov, in Romania.
‘Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!’ – Dracula