The tale of Dracula and the myth about vampires has fascinated people from all over the world, being promoted in almost every way possible: through movies, both animations for children (”Hotel Transylvania”) or dark fantasy for older public (”Dracula Untold”), books and series (”The Vampire Diaries”).
As a person born and raised in Romania, I must confess that everywhere I went abroad it wasn’t necessary to add more details about my country in order for people to have an idea about its existence (even if it is quite small compared to other countries and it is not located in the ”heart” of Europe). This is because of Dracula’s legend saved me every time: ”Oh...Romania, yes! Transylvania and Dracula! Amazing.”
So, in this article I will break some myths about Transylvania and Dracula, explaining how this whole ”vampiric culture” started, historically speaking. I have heard a lot of different amusing misunderstantings as time has passed related to foreign opinions and beliefs about this topic. Consider this as my national duty.
First of all, Transylvania is not an independent country, it is a region of Romania!
Romania is formed by three regions: Moldova, ?ara Româneasca and Transilvania (in English ”Transylvania”). In Romanian Transylvania is often called ”Ardeal” as well.
Transylvania was once an ”independent country” (”an autonom principat”). This was at the end of 17th century, when it was under the rule of the Habsburgic Empire. However, on 1st of December 1918 in the city Alba Iulia the Unification Day took place, when the Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared officially.
Since the Great Union Day until present Transylvania is a Romanian region, which is worth visiting for many reasons. Maybe we will be covering this aspect with another occasion, in other article someday (studying in Scotland, but writing about Romania, such irony).
Dracula existed actually...but not as a vampire
Vlad III, more often known as Vlad the Impaler (in Romanian: ”Vlad ?epe?”) was voivode (Prince) of Wallachia three times. He was born in Sighi?oara (city of Transylvania) in 1431 and died in Bucharest (?ara Româneasca or otherwise called ”Wallachia”) in 1476. He ruled during the years 1448, 1456-1462 and 1476.
He earned his nickname because his favourite method of killing his enemies, or people who disobeyed him, was by impaling them. The victim was skewered through the center of their body by a large pole. This way of murdering them was slow and painful.
Even though he was cruel and took the life of thousands of enemies, he chose this method for strategic reasons. Documents and written confessions say that he wanted to apply this method of punishment in order to be feared and to intimidate his enemies during wars. Afterall, he is seen as a hero because he protected the teritory at all costs.
He served as source of inspiration for Dracula, the main character of the gothic horror novel with the same name, published in 1897 and written by the Irish author Bram Stoker.
Dracula’s tale has almost nothing to do with Transylvania
I am sure that a lot of fans will be dissapointed by this, but the historical reality is different. The only connection between Transylvania and Dracula was that Vlad the Impaler was born there. But after he went to Wallachia in order to rule he spent the majority of his life there, not Transylvania.
So the original castle is actually in Târgovi?te (located in ?ara Româneasca, not Transilvania). However, it is Bran Castle which is located in Transylvania and it is known as ”Dracula’s Castle”, where thousands of tourists visit, but is is more or less a marketing strategy.
Historically speaking, Vlad the Impaler had almost nothing to do with that castle or Transylvania at all.