Friday, April 25, 2008

Dracula's Castles

April 1912 was an eventful month; on the 20th of that month (just 5 days after the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic) Irish novelist Abraham 'Bram' Stoker died. His legacy was to leave to the world possibly the most popular, enduring horror novel ever written - 'Dracula'. Although a novel, it was not written lightly, for Stoker conducted considerable, serious research into vampire stories, folkore and East European legends; and as we all know, legends tend to have their base in a truth somewhere. So it is with Stoker's main character, Count Dracula who, in the story, lived in a remote medieval castle on the border between Moldavia and Transylvania.

But who was the real Dracula? Did he really have a spooky castle? Was he really a vampire?

Many scholars have sought to find the answers over the years. What we can tell you is that there was once a Prince Vlad Dracula who was born in the heart of medieval Transylvania in the 15th century and who became famous (or infamous) for his acts of cruelty and violence; so much so that he is today remembered by the nickname Vlad the Impaler.

Vlad Dracula became associated with a number of medieval castles including the famous Castle Poenari which he had built in an incredibly remote mountain top setting - there 1480 steps leading up to it! Then there was Bran Castle where he often stayed (see photos of Bran Castle) and the palace of Tirgoviste which he built and where he developed underground cellars, allegedly used as torture chambers.

For all the horror of some of Vlad Dracula's real exploits, he ironically did many positive things for his country which are still remembered today - indeed he is regarded as a national hero in Romania. Read about Dracula's legacy.