Visiting Dracula at home

Bram Stoker has a lot to answer for.  It was he who created the character Count Dracula, the Transylvanian vampire who sleeps in a coffin during the day and drank human blood at night.  Although Bram’s character is fictional, it is based partly on fact as the author used a real life character, Vlad Tepes, as a blueprint for his famous villain.

Vlad Tepes is a national hero in Romania as they believe that he saved their country from invasion from the Ottoman Empire back in the 15th century.  The reason why he was able to save Romania from invasion was because his methods of retribution were so brutal and his reputation so fierce, the stronger Ottoman forces were actually too afraid to attack. We better know Prince Tepes as  Vlad the Impaler for his habit of impaling the captured enemy on stakes, which he did to thousands of them, in view of their comrades who were contemplating an attack.

Without wishing to give too vivid a description of impaling, it was a long, slow death for the poor impaled person, and the screams of these unfortunates could be heard by their friends.  Vlad was also known to boil people alive in huge cooking pots and had a reputation for carrying out other nasty acts.  Once, when an emissary from the Pope refused to remove his hat in Vlad’s presence, saying that he would only remove it before God, Vlad had the man’s hat nailed to his head, so he couldn’t remove it.

Vlad’s father’s name was Vlad Dracul, so Vlad was sometimes called Dracula, the son of Dracul, so it was only natural that an imaginative writer like Bram Stoker used Prince Vlad for a bit of inspiration.

Bram based his Dracula in Bran Castle in Transylvania, which was also home for a while for the real Dracula.  Today you can visit Bran Castle, which is a fortress castle near the town of Brasov in Romania.  In fact, it is the type of place you would envisage Stoker’s Dracula living, as it is set high in the mountains in a relatively quiet area.     

Officially, the Romanians don’t appreciate a vampire being named after one of their national heroes.  Unofficially, local merchants don’t mind cashing in on visitors confusing the factual character with the fictional character, so are prepared to sell all sorts of vampirish knickknacks as souvenirs for those game enough to enter the castle.

Bran Castle is now a museum, and it contains a lot of furniture that once belonged to the Romanian Queen Marie, so if you do go inside you will most likely leave again quite intact, and still mortal.

1 comment to Visiting Dracula at home

  • The author did a very good job of taking the bare historic facts that are available regarding the life of Vlad “Dracula” of Wallachia, from sources both favorable and unfavorable, and turned them into an appealing novel which gives the reader a real sense of what the man must have been like. The reader gets a picture of who “Dracula” was and why he committed acts which have made him a legend to the people of modern Romania, and an infamous monster in the eyes of much of the globe. Having read accounts of the historic Vlad Tepes previously, I was surprised to find myself somewhat in awe of the man. In this novel we see “Dracula” in the context of his times and not just as some “monster” who committed atrocities against his enemies, as well as his own people. I found the book difficult to put down and read it cover to cover over the course of a few evenings. It truly gives one a much more balanced perspective on this infamous historical figure and the violent and dangerous times he lived through. I highly recommend it.

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