Many of the tourists who come to Bucharest also travel to the "Dracula Castle" which is the main symbol that defines Romania. The castle is about a 2-hour drive from Bucharest, located in beautiful Carpathians.
When I got to the castle and heard explanations, I understood that Dracula's castle was an imaginary fairy tale, and that the real Dracula had never even been to this castle. The legend had been created from a combination of three unrelated stories, and they have been a part of Romanian culture for about three hundred years.
And here are the stories:
First story: During the 12th century, German knights built fortresses along the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. One of the fortresses was built in the town of Bran, which is now called Dracula Castle. Over the years, they added more rooms to the castle, as well as more turrets.
Second Story: In the 17th century, a tyrant named Ţepeş ruled Romania. His people called him "Dracul" which means "Satan" or "Dragon" in Romanian. Dracul had a little boy whose name was Vlad, and Vlad was nicknamed "Drăculea", which in Romanian means "Little Dracul".
Vlad grew up and inherited his father's throne as well as most of his cruel qualities, and he ruled Romania from his palace in Bucharest. He became famous mainly because of one atrocity he had committed in his life. As the Turks approached Bucharest in their conquests, Drăculea realized that it would not be easy to stop them. And, in order to create demoralization in the hearts of the Turkish soldiers, Drăculea ordered that Turkish prisoners will be the skewer on a spear while they were still alive. It was a particularly cruel death, and sometimes the dying lasted two or three days. The spears with the captured Turkish soldiers were lined up along the way the Turks were supposed to arrive into Bucharest. As they neared, they saw the sprawling line of Turkish soldiers, some still alive, and the sight shocked them and made them flee. Thus, Drăculea succeeded in defeating the Turks without a battle, and gained world fame as a strategic commander.
But … they say that Dracula had never been to Bran Castle, and some say he was imprisoned there two weeks during his youth.
Third Story: Three hundred years later, the Irish writer Bram Stoker wrote an imaginary storyline based on the character of the history of Vlad, including the period before and after the fight against the Turks. Bram Stoker devoured Dracula's sick mind from his feverish brain, and invented a psychotic perversion of him as if Dracula had been satisfied by sucking the blood of his victims and drinking their blood. In addition, the writer expanded on the rare skewers, as if they were a routine Drăculea procedure not only for enemy soldiers, but also for small thieves and tax offenders throughout his reign.
The book "Count Dracula" was first published in 1897. Bram, who was also a gifted painter, illustrated his book and drew a painting of an imaginary castle with several Romanian-Transylvanian turrets in which the cruel Dracula "lived". It was by chance that the castle he had illustrated was very similar to Bran Castle. But the truth is that Mr. Stoker had never been to Romania, and had never seen Bran Castle. Everything he wrote and drew was the fruit of his imagination.
Years later, Hollywood produced a feature film based on the book, Count Dracula, which was filmed in Bran Castle. Thus, in the wake of the film and the book, the fortress in Bran was dubbed "Dracula Castle", without any foundation or justification, and became a world tourist attraction, and even one of the symbols of Romania.
Dracula’s Castle is located in Transylvania in the Carpathians. The road from Bucharest crosses beautiful landscapes of mountains and forests and rivers. These landscapes are personally exciting for me because they are the landscapes of my father's childhood, and I heard about them quite a bit as a child, but only recently did I see them with my own eyes.
The name Transylvania means 'seven cities', two of them in Brasov and Sinaia. On the way, it is worth stopping in some of the picturesque villages and towns. Here are some of the most beautiful sights to visit:
The town of Sinaia is also called, "Pearl of the Carpathians". There is the beautiful Palace of Peles, built by King Charles I, and it is the summer residence of the Romanian royal family, and one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe.
In Transylvania, in the Carpathians, there is the beautiful town of Brasov, where many Israelis love to vacation. It is a picturesque town with a large central square, where cafes and shops are concentrated. On a mountain on the south side of the city, a sign was erected that resembles Hollywood's famous sign.
But for us, the highlight of the visit to Braşov and the Carpathians was the visit to the synagogue in Brasov. For this, I dedicated a special article on Judaism to Transylvania.
The "Authentic Romania" firm are offering family trips from Bucharest to Transylvania in minibuses, complete with an English-speaking driver. Immigrants from Transylvania and their descendants may also add a visit to their original hometown. The price is 350 euros per family, per day. You can contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you tell Alina Baidoc that you found them from a post on this site, you will probably receive a special discount.
The information and images for this article were obtained by the Bucharest Expirience organization and especially by its managers Tudor & Anda Maxim