9 Dracula sites to Visit in Romania

9 Dracula sites to Visit in Romania

Vlad III the Impaler Dracula, it is quite a name and a legend to live up to. Although it is true that myth and history blend to create the portrait of this infamous prince, we cannot take away the fact that Romanians consider him a hero and the entire world knows of him, one way or another.

Why a hero you might be wondering, well because he was not killing for fame or richness, he was killing to protect his people and his religion. Although somewhat controversial, he is not the worse in history, remember Atilla the Hun, Genghis Khan, Ivan the IV of Russia and the list could go on. He was not special in his ways of battle, that is Hara principatelor romanesti sub Mihai Viteazul 1600how the entire world was like, he was special in his purpose: protecting the Romanians (Wallahs) and their land of being torn apart.

FYI. During his time Romania was divided in three little countries (principalities) that were administrated separately but they all had Romanians on their territories. Although Vlad was born in Transylvania, his family came from Wallachia and this is the territory that he rulled.

Only God and those who lived in those times know the truth. We can only hope that what historians, scribes and story tellers recorded was the truth. 

Neagu Djuvara, Historian

List of sites related to Vlad Dracula that can be visited in Romania:

1.Bucharest Princely Court. 557 years ago Vlad the Impaler founded the fortress of Bucharest in his quest of defeating the Ottoman Turks. Vlad was ruling his country Wallachia which had a direct border with the Turkish Empire, the Danube. Being in need for a nearby fortress to serve for retreat and protection he decided this place should be Bucharest and we all appreciate it very much 🙂

The ruins of Vlad’s fortress were revealed in 1972 by Romanian archaeologists exactly in the heart of Bucharest, the Old Town. Being so conveniently located don’t hesitate to wander on French Street (Strada Franceza) to sneak a peak. You can also visit the neighboring church called the Princely Church where the rulers of Wallachia were being crowned.

Vlad the Impaler court Bucharest
Bucharest Princely Court

2.Targoviste Princely Court. The town of Targoviste was the medieval capital of Wallachia, a location where Vlad ruled following his father and grandfather. It is said to be the first place where Vlad used his trademark torture – the impalement – trying to bring justice after a group of noblemen murdered his father and brother in an attempt to overtake the throne. You can visit here the ruins of Vlad’s mansion, the Great Church which is an exquisite Romanian architectural site decorated with valuable frescoes dating the 16th century, Chindia tower used for defense and also treasury. Do climb the tower which has at each floor an exhibition about Vlad’s journey though life and enjoy a wonderful view of the town from the top.

Targoviste Princely Court
Targoviste Princely Court

3.Poienari Fortress. This amazing stronghold located in the mountains has saved Vlad’s life numerous times. Climb the 1480 steps to explore the fortress while enjoying a spectacular scenery of the Carpathians. Don’t be afraid of the impalees hanging at the entrance or the torture area on the right side, they are just props meant to show a little insight into those crazy medieval days.

Poienari Fortress
Poienari Fortress

4.Replica of Poienari Fortress to be found in Carol Park, Bucharest. Called the Castle of the Impaler (Castelul lui Tepes) this fortress was built in 1906 by Kind Carol I, to celebrate the 40th year of being on the throne of Romania. The architects studied the ruins of the real fortress and this is how they imagined it during it’s glory days. Sadly this site is open for visiting only twice per year: on May 25th for Heroes Day and October 25th for Army Day.

Poienari Fortress, Bucharest
Poienari Fortress, Bucharest

5.Snagov Monastery. This little monastery located on an island in the middle of Snagov lake holds the tomb of Vlad the Impaler. The tiny stone church has  a great history and fabulous Orthodox frescoes are definitely worth a visit. Legend says that Vlad was beheaded in the woods around Bucharest when fighting the Turks. The enemies took the head as a war trophy, after the battle the monks brought his body to the monastery to be buried and finally find peace.

Snagov Monastery
Snagov Monastery

6.Bran Castle aka Dracula’s Castle. Although Vlad never lived in this castle, there is a small connection between the price and this great medieval dwelling: Vlad’s grandfather was castellan of Bran, which was a great honor for the Wallachian ruler. Secondly it is said that Vlad spent a few nights in the castle when fighting the Germans and Hungarians in Transylvania, trying to liberate the territory of foreign control. For the legend or for the history do not miss this castle. Read more HERE

7.Huniady Castle. Another fantastic medieval Transylvanian dwelling that I definitely recommend visiting. Legend says that Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned in the dungeons of this castle after being accused of treason by Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary.

8.House of Dracula in Sighisoara. Sighisoara is the most medieval town in Transylvania with narrow cobblestone streets and colorful houses, with defense towers and stone walls that make you feel like a time traveler to the 1500. The town is divided in two, lower town with buildings dating the 18th and 19th century and the upper town, the former medieval citadel that is a splendid UNESCO site and gives you a chance to see how people were living in the middle ages between the protective walls of a fortress. Sighisoara is the birth place of Vlad, you can visit the yellow house where he was born in 1431 and where he lived with his family until the age of 4, when his father became ruler of Wallachia and moved to the capital of Targoviste.

House of Dracula, Sighisoara
House of Dracula, Sighisoara

9.Brasov. Vlad lived for some time in Brasov, apparently for economical and political reasons and also to keep an eye on Dan, a pretender to the throne of Wallachia, member of noble family and rival to Vlad. Read more about visiting Brasov HERE

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Mistress of Dracula – Katharina of Brasov

Katharina and Vlad the Impaler
Katharina and Vlad the Impaler

It was Christmas Eve 1455 in the Transylvanian city of Brasov or Kronstadt / Corona as it was called in those days. It was snowing heavily! A few young girls were trying to pull uphill, in the snow, a big sled filled with supplies for the soldiers in the Weavers Bastion. The bastion was located near the house of Vlad the Impaler, who was at that time military governor of Brasov. Being with his officers on the hill, Vlad jumped to help. The gallantry of the prince seemed strange for everybody around, until they noticed he could not take his eyes off the blue-eyed blonde little lady.
Khatarina was the daughter of the Weaver’s guild leader in Brasov. Her relationship with the prince lasted 20 years and resulted in five children: Vladislav (1456), Catherine (1459), Christian (1461), Hanna (1463) and Sigismund (1468). The cruel ruler overwhelmed his young mistress with great tenderness, during the 20 years, she was the only woman for whom he asked the high priest to allow him to get a divorce.

Love story in the Tartler house
When she met the prince, Katharina was 17 and he was 34. She was educated in a Franciscan Monastery and lived her with her father Thomas Siegel and mother Susanna Fronius in the house called Tartler. The building still exists today and can be seen at Str. Poarta Schei No. 14.

Vlad the Impaler often visited Katharina at her house, where she spent most of her time weaving in a room downstairs. Vlad gifter her with the most beautiful dresses of silk and lace from Venice and Flanders.

Until meeting Katharina, Vlad had many loves, including Ursulla from Schassburg / Sighisoara, Erika from Bistrita and Lize from Hermannstad / Sibiu. These affairs of the prince created discontent among the Saxon guilds, families wanting to marry their daughters with someone from their community. Vlad was careful to marry or get engagements for all his mistresses, except Katharina. He could not bear the thought of sharing her with someone else.

The Transylvanian Chronicle from the 18th century tells that the romance of Prince Vlad, military governor, Duke of Fagaras and Amlas with Katharina created great revolt among pretenders to the girl’s hand, three of them coming from rich families of the Saxon community. It is said that his love for Katharina sparked violent crisis: sword throwing, kicking things around or taking revenge on those who were around. The prince’s scenes of jealousy terrified the city of Brasov and during one of them he even wounded a priest.

Bartholomew Massacre and the Golden LocksVlad-The-Impaler-dracula-untold-37680708-854-347

On 2 April 1459 upset with the high taxes imposed by the Saxons in Brasov and their intrigues around the country, Vlad destroyed all their corn crops. He trapped hundreds of townsmen and merchants coming into the city with goods, took near the city slums, in the neighborhood of Bartholomew and started impaling them one by one.

During the Bartholomew massacre, Vlad received the news that the merchants wives had attacked Katharina’s house. They beat her, tied her to the pillory in the Square and cut her long golden locks. Because they cut her locks, the prince threatened to burn entire city. In order to save his beloved, Vlad, freed the other Saxons who were to be killed in Bartholomew.reportaj-katharina-din-schei-marea-iubire-a-lui-vlad-tepes-0
Legend has it that Vlad was able to recover one of the braids of Katharina and then kept it almost religiously. One day surprised that his wife opened the closet where he kept the locks as a sacred object, he became very angry and mistreated her. Vlad the Impaler wanted to take Katharina as his wife, but religion did not allow divorce, even though he had more children with his mistress than with his own wife. He often wrote to the Patriarch and even to Pope Pius II, asking him for a letter of indulgence to have his marriage with Anastasia Holszanska (granddaughter of Queen of Poland) annulled, but he never received approval.
After the death of the prince, Katharina, at the age of 39, returned to the monastery where she was educated as a child. Of the 20 years of love, the only witness that still stands today is the house at Str. Poarta Schei No. 14.

Beautiful Katharina was the only woman who managed to tame the heart of this cruel and feared ruler.

Dracula – The Romanian!

Romania’s national heroVlad-Tepes

When we think of Dracula we almost always think about the made up character, the bloody vampire that always makes a good Halloween story for the kids. But have you ever thought about a brave man, a fighter for Christianity and for the continuity of his nation?

Oh, the legendary count Dracula, the fierce vampire from Transylvania with his sparkly sharp teeth and white pale skin. What if I told you he was not a vampire but a great warrior, not a monster but a hero for his people, the Romanians?

When we think of Dracula we almost always think about the made up character, the bloody vampire that always makes a good Halloween story for the kids. But have you ever thought about a brave man, a fighter for Christianity and for the continuity of his nation?

He is one of Romania’s national heroes, one of the rulers who believed we were worth fighting for and who never chose the easy way to save his own skin at the expense of the masses. He fought together with his grandfather Mircea the Elder, with his cousin Stephan the Great (Stefan cel Mare), with other rulers as Mihai the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Alexandru the Good, Petru Rares, Iancu of Hunedoara (John Hunyadi) to free the Romanian people, to give them rights, to make them good and honest people.

Throughout this blog I will tell you the story of his life, the battles he fought both with other people and also with himself because even if he was not a demon, he did have his demons. I will also give you scary facts, funny tales, amazing happenings and breathtaking events.

You may wonder why I wrote this article. Well, I sort of feel the need to protect him, to clear his name if I may call it that. I need to speak in his name and tell you this: ‘I am not and never was a monster. I did not enjoy bringing death to others. I only did what I had to do to protect my people and my religion, even if that meant protecting the people from themselves and giving up my religion so that my descendants would freely practice it.’

Do not worry, I never ‘saw’ him and he never ‘spoke’ to me :D. I just feel that on an international level his reputation is stained and that people know the fantasy but don’t know the truth. The real Dracula, the Romanian prince is far more fascinating because he was not a living dead, he did not have superhuman powers and he still managed to become renowned all around the world and to bring fear into the souls of his enemies.

When you are feared and demand for respect, not many will like you, they would hate the power you have over them and try to replace you with someone that can be bought, controlled and easily manipulated. If you are such a force of nature people will gossip, will invent stories about you and will try to make a fool out of you, kind of what happens to celebrities nowadays. People invent stories about them, some very crazy and whimsical, in order to get revenge, public recognition and diminish the power of an individual by publicly humiliating them.

Stand beside me in my mission of protecting Dracula’s reputation (as crazy as that may sound). Join me on a life changing experience, full of unexpected, silly, funny and also creepy events following in the steps of Vlad Dracula  – The Romanian!