Isolated, rural Transylvanian locations, ethnic diversity has created a wide variety of superstitions which inspired Irish author Bram Stoker to write one of the most famous novels in the English language Dracula (1897). Travel with Dacre Stoker on a historical sightseeing tour euphemistically referred to as Transylvania, DSI (Dracula Scene Investigation) as we dig into the deep, rich and complex history of Romania to understand the truth and the origins of the Vampire myth and how they relate to the real Prince Vlad Dracula III (1431-1476). Furthermore, we will learn how and why Bram Stoker made the connection between the real Prince Vlad Dracula and his iconic fictional character Count Dracula.
The tour will include host Dacre Stoker, Bram’s great grand nephew, co author of the official sequel to Dracula entitled Dracula the Un-Dead (Dutton 2009) Bram Stoker’s Lost Journal with Dr. Elizabeth Miller (Robson Press 2012). Dacre’s latest work, a collaboration with JD Barker, is a prequel to Dracula, it has been sold to Putnam Publishing and is dues out in the Fall of 2018, film rights were sold to Paramount Studios.
While learning about who the real Vlad Dracula lll was, you will tour historical attractions in Romania with connections to Vlad, and a few without any Dracula connections. In the process we will “set the story straight” and explain why Vlad was so effective and revered as a ruler and to put into perspective why he ruled the way he did, and how and why he became known as the “impaler.” In addition, you will also learn the connection to the fictional Count Dracula, as created by author Bram Stoker.
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Note: Not every site is visited on every tour. Tours are tailored to interests of the group, so no tour is exactly the same.
Sighisoara, Mures County
12th century UNESCO World Heritage walled city which is the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, the home has been turned into a restaurant and bar. There is a museum inside the historic clock Tower, includes a dungeon with display of torture devices.
Bran Castle, Brasov
There are many Castles in Romania associated with Vlad Dracula lll, only one has a direct connection to Bram Stoker writing his famous novel. I believe that Bran Castle did play a role in inspiring Bram as he listed a book by Charles Boner entitled “Transylvania, Its Products and Its Places”, it contained an illustration of Bran Castle, many scholars believe that Bram used the image of this castle to describe the appearance of his fictional Castle Dracula. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia.
Curte Veche, Princely Palace Bucharest
14th century Old Princely Court of Vlad Dracula, built as a place or residence during the rule of Vlad III Dracula in 1459. Archaeological excavations started in 1953, and now the site is operated by the Muzeul Municipiului Bucuresti in the historic centre of Bucharest.
Hunadoara/ Corvin Castle, Hunadoara
Corvin Castle was laid out in 1446, when construction began at the orders of John Hunyadi who wanted to transform the former keep built by Charles I of Hungary. The castle was originally given to John Hunyadi's father, Voyk, by Sigismund, king of Hungary, as severance in 1409. Vlad Dracula III of Wallachia was held prisoner by John Hunyadi, Hungary's military leader and regent during the King's minority, for 7 years after Vlad was deposed in 1462.
Princely Court of Vlad Dracula lll in Targoviste Dambovita County. The 14th century fortress and Royal Court of Targoviste, was also the former voivodal residence of Wallachia; is by far one of the most important and representative historical monuments in Romania for tourists. Within the fortress stands the impressive Chindia Tower built in the 15th century.
A Saxon Village established in the 14th Century includes a fortified Church and museum. Walking thru his village brings one back to medieval days it is also where Prince Charles owns two small rental cottages.
Built between 1873 and 1914 located in Sinaia Prahova County. The most beautifully decorated castle in Romania, there is no connection to Vlad or the Count but certainly worth the visit.
Sibiu, 1190, Old fortified City
European Capital of Culture in 2007, we visit the Tower of Advice, the Orthodox Church, and the Evangelical Church.
Poenari Fortress, Arefu, Arges County,
Poenari Fortress was erected around the beginning of the 13th century by the rulers of Walachia. Around the 14th century, Poenari was the main citadel of the Basarab rulers. In the next few decades, the name and the residents changed a few times but eventually the castle was abandoned and left in ruins. However, in the 15th century, realizing the potential for a castle perched high on a steep precipice of rock, Vlad III repaired and consolidated the structure, making it one of his main fortresses.
Curtea de Argeş
Curtea de Argeş was an early capital of Wallachia, and these ruins from the 14th century mark the spot where the court once stood. The main sight is St Nicholas Church, which dates from the time of Basarab I (1310–52). Many of the frescoes are originals. The tomb of early ruler Vladislav I Vlaicu (d 1377) stands in the main room. Vlaicu's tomb was first discovered and exhumed in the 1920s. The wall paintings, painstakingly restored in the early 20th century, merit closer inspection.
The Black Church, Brasov
The Black Church is one of the most impressive religious edifices in Romania. It is located in the center of Brasov City, Romania. Its construction began in the 14th century as a Roman Catholic structure and it was known as the Church of Saint Mary. It was built on the place of another older church. The first priest of this new church was a man named Thomas Sander. He died in 1410 and his grave can be found inside the church, in the choir area. Completed by the end of the 15th century, the church belongs to the last stages of Gothic architecture. The result was a three-nave basilica, all the same height, as was preferred during the 15th and 16th centuries in the German lands, where most of the architects and masons originated. The Catholic services were replaced with Lutheran ones during the Protestant Reformation.
Salina Turda is a salt mine located in the Durgău-Valea Sărată area of Turda, the second largest city in Cluj County, Romania. Since its opening to tourists in 1992, Salina Turda has been visited by about 2 million Romanian and foreign tourists. Salina Turda was ranked by Business Insider as the most beautiful underground place in the world.
The main attraction is the Snagov monastery, one of the alleged burial sites of Vlad the Impaler, which is located on an island on the northern part of the lake. The village was built around the monastery, where it is believed that Vlad the Impaler was killed by the Janissaries during a battle between Wallachian and Ottoman forces and then buried within the grounds surrounding the monastery.
Borgo Pass, Mt Izvorul Calimanului, Kelemen Alps.
Many believe that Bram Stoker set the location of his fictional castle in the area of the Borgo Pass, not near Brasov where Castle Bran is located. The most likely choice, based on his notes, is Mount Izvorul Călimanului, 2,033 m high, located in the Transylvanian Kelemen Alps near the border with Moldavia, at 47°08'03" North, 25°17'19" East.
Comana Monastery is a Romanian Orthodox monastery in Comana, Giurgiu County, Romania. In 1461 the original Comana Monastery was apparently founded and built by Vlad Dracula lll as a monastery-fortress, this is one of his possible burial sites.