Sure, everyone’s heard about the bloodthirsty acts of the Transylvanian vampire – Dracula. But do you know whereabouts Transylvania actually is? It lies in the centre of Romania, enclosed by the Carpathian mountains. It’s a region filled with myths and legends and once there, you’ll feel as though you’ve found yourself in another world. In this article you’ll read more about the story of Count Dracula, his homeland and the spooky hotels in the area. Let the impressive, mystical landscape with its mountains and forests work its magic on you – and who knows, maybe you’ll fancy a trip to the spooky Transylvania, home of the famous vampire.
The infamous Count Dracula is by far the most famous vampire figure, also regarded as the father of all vampires. Vampires are mostly known as terrible creatures with white skin and sharp, pointy teeth, who rise from their graves at night and feed on human blood. You can kill them only by piercing their heart with a wooden stake. Many believe that vampires were created as an explanation for catastrophes such as sudden deaths and terrible illnesses and as scapegoats for such misfortunes.
The character of Count Dracula was created by the Irish author Bram Stoker, who wrote the Gothic novel in 1897. It’s not known whether Count Dracula actually existed, but the terrible Prince Vlad III Draculea, who was known for his brutal crimes, served as an inspiration for the novel. He was the Prince of Wallachia, a principality in Romania, in the 15th century. Legendary Transylvania was his homeland. The surname of this cruel prince is more than fitting to his character, since the word dracul also means ‘devil’ in Romanian. Translated, Draculea means ‘son of the devil’. Vlad was regarded as a merciless warrior, so much so that he earned the name tepes, the ‘Impaler’ in English. He had a ruthless preference for impaling his enemies on stakes and watching them die.
Apart from this, he apparently drank the blood of his victims and forced men to eat their wives and children. Vlad III Draculea, regarded as the embodiment of terror and caprice, was beheaded at the end of 1476. His corpse remains missing until today, however. His grave in the Romanian town of Snagov was opened in 1931 and no remains could be found inside. Has the bloodthirsty prince risen from his grave and lives among us as a vampire? One thing is clear: the legend of Count Dracula and his historic model Vlad is immortal!
Scary homeland of the bloodthirsty Impaler
Transylvania, homeland of Vlad III Draculea is stormed by tourists from all over the world, willing to travel into the gruesome past of this region. Translated, Transylvania means ‘beyond the forest’, and this region is characterised by wild landscapes and the surrounding Carpathian mountains.
In German, Siebenbürgen is the name of the region, after the seven fortresses in the area: Bistrita, Brasov, Cluj Napoca, Medias, Sebes, Sibiu and Sighisoara. Many cities still posess a medieval flair, like the baroque Old Town of Cluj Napoca. Castle Bran is without a doubt Transylvania’s most famous tourist magnet. Not even 30km away from Brasov, Vlad the Impaler is supposed to have lived here once. There’s no proof of this, nevertheless the castle is known as Dracula’s stronghold.
It’s difficult to tell the reality and the myths apart, since there are so many myths and legends about Dracula. But without these, the region wouldn’t be a setting for gruesome stories and scary atmospheres. Strolling through the streets in the evening you can feel a shiver – an uneasy feeling that someone is following your every step. Many images pop into your head at nightfall. You’ll definitely want to stay in your bed when you hear the wolves howl in the depths of the forest. The former principality of Transylvania is about 60,000 km² and a huge chunk of it is covered by a dense forest, where terrifying creatures such as vampires, witches and werewolves supposedly live. Wallachia, an unexplored scenic gem in southern Romania, borders it in the south.
Permanent cheap flights to Transylvania
Thanks to Ryanair, there are cheap flights to Romania all year round. You can reach the airports in Cluj-Napoca, Tirgu Mures and Sibiu for less than €100. Flights to Bucharest are also quite cheap, however the capital lies in Wallachia and not in Transylvania, so you might have to battle your way through by a rental car. You should definitely equip yourself with a rental car for your journey through Transylvania, since public transport has not been elaborated very well in this region and your trip will take a long time. With a rental car, you’ll be more independent and you’ll be able to explore all the spooky places on your own and quickly flee to the hotel when you get scared stiff.
Spooky hotels – a real Dracula feeling in Transylvania
Right next to Castle Bran, once home to Dracula and the city of Brasov, lies the House of Dracula Hotel. You’ll get the best thrills here! The Dracula Hotel has a very special feel to it, luxuriously furnished on one hand, while on the other, you feel as though Dracula himself is lurking not too far away. You can reach Castle Bran in just 30 minutes with your rental car, and marvel at its daunting walls. Apart from a torture chamber, which is no longer in use today of course, the House of Dracula houses a Wellness & Spa area. After a long day of sightseeing or journeys through the dense forest, you can treat yourself to a massage in order to relax.
If you want to enjoy the spooky atmosphere during the day but sleep peacefully during the night, you should definitly check out the 4-star Kronwell Brasov Hotel. Located directly in Brasov, it’s a perfect starting position for great trips around the area. Beside an extensive spa offer, the hotel also offers first class catering! The rich breakfast buffet and culinary highlights during dinner in an elegant atmosphere will satisfy every guest, with literally 100% recommendation rate.
The best of Transylvania
Especially when the weather is not great, a visit to the Turda Salt Mine is recommended. There’s a former salt mine here and paddle boats can travel into its depths. It’s definitely a trip that will give you a thrill. Sighisoara, the city where Vlad III Draculea was born, should definitely be explored, since an Old Saxon atmosphere prevails here. A late medieval fortress, a castle complex with fortified towers, as well as the gothic church and alleyways protected as historic monuments will transport you back into another time when scary creatures swarmed everywhere. In the Almasch cave icicles rise and form human silhouettes as if by magic. Is that the work of Dracula, or maybe other undead creatures carry out their mischief?
Cursed Dracula theme park
It’s a tragedy for all Dracula fans: for 15 (!) years, the theme park dedicated to Dracula has been in the planning stage and is still not finished. Initially it was to be built in Sighisoara, Vlad’s birth town, thus having a direct link to Dracula. The park was supposed to be a darker version of Disneyland, but the Romanian government decided, rather late, that they feared that because of the theme park, they’d lose their recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is very important for the region. Many millions of Euros from the investors were lost because of this decision. It was then planned that the park would be built near Vlad’s tomb in Snagov – but it appears there’s a curse over this project…
I hope that you weren’t too spooked out while reading this article, but Count Dracula and his historical model of Vlad III Draculea are just scary creatures of the past. Their presence can still be felt in Transylvania and the legends will probably never die. Make sure you visit Transylvania during your next travels and discover this unique landscape for yourself.