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Romania: Land of the Dracula Myth

Vlad the Impaler.  Inspiration for Dracula

 When I tell people I went to Romania last spring, often the names of two rather nasty men come up.  One was a very real person, who ran the country, spent vast amounts of money on huge buildings and projects, caused so much pain for the residents that his government  was overthrown and he was eventually executed.

The other character  never existed.  However, stories of his blood-thirsty behavior have spawned movies, travel tours and lots of mystical theories.

The dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, who ran the country from 1967 to 1989 is known for many things, including the People’s Palace, said to be the largest building in the world by pure mass. He was real.

The other,  Count Dracula, was not.


The funny thing about Dracula.  He was invented by an Irish writer, Bram Stoker,the Dan Brown of his era, who never ever visited Romania.  He was simply looking for a great tale to tell.

In doing research he learned that the Transylvania part of Romania was filled with lore about Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian Prince that ruled the region of Wallachia between 1456 and 1472.  He was known for very forceful and gruesome ways of keeping order and defending his people from the attacks from the Ottoman Empire.  Romanians think he was a pretty good guy.  He kept the peace.


 Because of Stoker’s book and subsequent Hollywood movies,  Bran Castle has been identified as Dracula’s Castle.  No one seems to think that Vlad ever stayed there, but I suppose he could have.  It serves as the perfect example of the kind of castle that a Romanian vampire might choose to live in.




In the Pinterest Perfect town of Sighisoara, tourists can find a restaurant claiming to be the location of Vlad’s birth.





But, what the hell.  It’s fun.  We visited Bran Castle  (I like castles) but we didn’t eat at the restaurant.  Our guide pooh poohed going there.  I got a kick out of the tacky t-shirts that filled the little shops in the area but resisted the temptation to buy one.





Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of cheesy Dracula stuff to be found.  The Romanians haven’t really gotten on the vampire trend that is spreading through out the world.  Ironic, don’t you think?

Bram Stoker’s golden tale of ghoul has never been out of print since its first publication in 1897.  And some say that Transylvania sits on one of the Earth’s strongest magnetic fields and it’s people have extra-sensory perception.  Vampires are believed to hang around on St. George’s Day, April 23, and on the Eve of St. Andrew, November 29.



Mostly I got the sense that the Romanians were a bit embarrassed by the Dracula myth and its identification with their beautiful country. They have so many lovely traditions, strong religious practices, such a complex history and many charming people that to be associated with the nastiness of Dracula is perhaps a bit sad.

There’s so much more to Romania than Dracula.


To see more photos and read about Romania click on  Looking up in Romania or Bucharest: Drum Bun or Romania: Why Go?

Click here for an interesting article on Bran Castle and the area  in the Wall Street Journal. It’s for sale…..

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Ann Cabezas Creed
    Oct 28, 2014 Reply

    Hi Susan, I really enjoy reading your articles and viewing your photos.

    ann cabezas creed

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Oct 30, 2014 Reply

      Thanks, Ann, I appreciate your kind words. Glad you enjoy

  2. posted by
    Marie Preston
    Oct 28, 2014 Reply

    Perfect, timely, interesting piece . . . the imagination must go wild sometimes . . . especially on Halloween! (-:

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Oct 30, 2014 Reply

      Thanks, Marie,
      I’m glad you enjoyed!

  3. posted by
    Oct 28, 2014 Reply

    I always learn something interesting from your blogs and this was no exception!! Great photography.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Oct 30, 2014 Reply

      The Dracula myth is interesting isn’t it? Funny that the writer of the story never stepped foot on Romanian soil.

  4. posted by
    Random Romania Experiences | DesignDestinations
    Dec 2, 2014 Reply

    […] Romania. I’m so glad I was able to visit Romania.  While most people associate Romania with Dracula (see recent blog), this Eastern Europe Country has a lot more to offer the tourist who is ready to get off the […]

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