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Mystery and surmise enshroud Romania’s Bran Castle, where legend has it Vlad Dracula lived in the 15th century. His reputation for evil inspired Bram Stoker’s famous vampire story, Dracula.
IN ROMANIA, where Gypsies still roam the countryside and folk traditions date back a thousand years, it is said that Dracula’s castle is made of smoke. Though horror literature’s most famous house may never have existed, Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, conjured it up so vividly that for myriad readers it persists as the dark spectre he described: “A vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.”
Stoker, an Irishman, never visited the country where he set his classic thriller. But, researching it in the Reading Room of the British Museum in the 1890s, he was captivated by descriptions of the mysterious landscape inhabited by vagabond tribes and peasants of Turkish, Roman, Saxon and Hungarian stock. “I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool,” he wrote.
Into this evocative setting he thrust his vampire villain, whom he based loosely upon Vlad Dracula, a notorious Walachian prince who lived from 1431 to 1476. His name alone would have captured Stoker’s imagination, for Dracula means “Devil’s son,” but he was still better known as Vlad Tepes, or “Vlad the Impaler,” a reference to his vicious but favorite means of doing away with his enemies.
Although in some folk tales Vlad Dracula is depicted as a brave soldier, and a just sovereign, in others he is described as a bloodthirsty tyrant, who slaughtered not only his enemies, but his subjects, as well.
Tales of his alleged atrocities were legion, and his reputation for evil unsurpassed. More than four hundred years later, when vampire novels were titillating Victorian readers, Stoker utilized the history of Vlad Dracula to lend a nightmarish fillip to his spine-tingling thriller. F. W. Murnau’s silent film classic Nosferatu, 1922, Bela Lugosi’s popular interpretation almost a decade later, and a host of other dramatizations have done little to dispel the horror that came to be associated—deservedly or not—with the name of Dracula.
Though historians debate the point, Bran Castle, perched on a precipice in the Carpathian Mountains, has achieved the dubious distinction of being known as the home of Vlad Dracula. Other castles where he lived have succumbed to time, but Bran survives, one of the best-preserved examples of Medieval architecture in Romania. And, while there are no facts to prove it, there is reason enough to associate Vlad Dracula, at least peripherally, with the castle.
Built by the king of Hungary in 1377, it served as the principal mountain fortress guarding the main trade routes between the kingdoms of Transylvania and Walachia. In 1395 it was given to Prince Mircea, Vlad Dracula’s grandfather. The arch villain’s trail must have led him within the environs of the castle frequently, if not in his youth, then in his maturity, to visit his chief benefactor, Janos Hunyadi, a subsequent owner of the castle. For a time Vlad Dracula was in charge of guarding the southern flank of Transylvania and few places offered a better defensive vantage point than the lofty battlements of the principal fortress in the area.
Like his grandfather, Vlad Dracula prospered under the protection of the Hungarian king and enjoyed three separate reigns as prince of Walachia. However, in 1462 his relationship with the king suffered a setback when the monarch intercepted monies sent by Pope Pius II to Vlad Dracula to bolster his battle with the Turks. Withdrawing his support, the king had Vlad Dracula arrested near Bran Pass, a few miles from the castle, and conjecture has it that for a time he was detained, perhaps even imprisoned, at Bran Castle.
Approached from Bran Pass, the castle indeed resembles the “wild and uncanny” place depicted by Bram Stoker. Its stern facade bespeaks the feudal days of the Middle Ages. Inside there are vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, endless labyrinthine corridors, a secret passageway, and even the dungeon where Vlad Dracula is believed to have been imprisoned.
In the seventeenth century a series of architectural changes were made, and again in the 1920s and 1930s, when Bran was a favorite summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her state-arranged marriage to the Romanian prince, later King Ferdinand, was not a happy one. She loathed her husband and kept her distance by staying at Bran, where she rode horses and wrote poetry and novels. She also worked closely with her court architect, Carl Liman, and the changes they made to the exterior of the castle, as well as the furnishings that remain from her day, reflect her love of local traditions and a mix of Italian and German Baroque styles.
The queen apparently was not disturbed by the ghost of Dracula—she regarded the home as exclusively her own. Yet today the myth of the vampire villain clings to the mirrorless castle, a proof, perhaps, that folklore and fiction are sometimes more persuasive than reality itself.
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When you’re taking your next trip to Europe, make sure you put Romania on your list.
Why is that? Because this is a beautiful country with a lot to offer, and it would be a total loss not to explore it.
You may not take our word for it, but the next 20 pictures will take care of that.
Located in Central Europe, north of the Balkan Peninsula and on the western shore of the Black Sea, Romania is the seventh most populous member of the European Union.
Spread on an area of 238,391 square kilometers (92,043 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in Southeastern Europe, and has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe.
This country is filled with majestic castles, medieval towns, and great hiking and wildlife places waiting to be discovered.
But you might know it better for the legend of the Count Dracula which seems to be the main attraction for foreigners.
Leaving that aside, there are much more breathtaking places to see while travelling trough Romania, and some of them were perfectly captured by some talented photographers.
So grab a pen, get your “places to visit” list, and make sure you add this country on it!
Snow Covered Mountains of Bran Castle | via noticias24.com
Rodna Veche | Photo by Lazar Ovidiu
Sunrise Over The Ceahlau Massif | Photo by Lazar Ovidiu
Transfagarasan Road | Photo by Ben Taylor
Wintertime Bliss at Peles Castle | Photo by Nora De Angelli
Rock Sculpture of Decebalus (Orsova) | Photo by Luis Salha
The Contrast of Darkness and Light At Bucegi Mountains | Photo by Dumitru Doru
Bucegi Mountains | Photo by Zsolt Kiss
Transalpina Road | Photo by Ioan Balasanu
The Picturesque Hills of Holbav Village | Photo by Catalin Caciuc
Natural Shower at Bigar Waterfall | Photo by Petru Valentin Oprea
Summer Afternoon in The Village Biertan (near Sibiu) | Photo by Nicu Hoandra
Picture Perfect Day At Retezat National Park | Photo by Janos Gaspar
Photo by Adrian Borda
Thin Fog Traveling Through The Apuseni Mountains | Photo by Stan Cosmin Ovidiu
The Romanian Tunnel of Love (Otelu Rosu to Caransebes) | Photo by Alexandru Mahu
Magical Sunrise Over The Rodna Mountains | Photo by Zsolt Kiss
Rising Fog Over The Maramures | Photo by Andreea Oana
The Morning Mist in The Moss Swamp | Photo by Adrian Borda
A Snowy Day in Burzenland (Tara Barsei) | Photo by Eduard Gutescu
So what do you think, are you putting this country on your “places to visit” list?
If you need a private “car and driver” service in Romania to get you to any of these places, or an airport transfer in Romania from Bucharest Otopeni (OTP) airport or intercity transfer in Romania just Contact Us !
One of the most amazing road trips that you can take in your lifetime is in Romania and even Top Gear has been on it – Transfagarasan road.
The road was constructed between 1970 and 1974, during the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu. It came as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceaușescu wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in the event the Soviets attempted a similar move into Romania. Consequently, the road was built mainly with military forces, at a high cost both financially and from a human standpoint—roughly 6 million kilograms of dynamite were used on the northern face, and the official records mention that about 40 soldiers lost their lives in building accidents.
The road climbs to 2,034 metres altitude. The most spectacular route is from the North. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. The Transfăgărășan is both an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. Due to the topography, the average speed is around 40 km/h. The road also provides access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall.
The road is usually closed from late October until late June because of snow. Depending on the weather, it may remain open until as late as November. It may also be closed at other times, because of weather conditions (it occasionally snows even in August). There are signs at the town of Curtea de Argeș and the village of Cartisoara that provide information on the passage. Travellers can find food and lodging at several hotels or chalets (cabane) along the way.
It has more tunnels (a total of 5) and viaducts than any other road in Romania. Near the highest point, at Bâlea Lake, the road passes through Bâlea Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Romania (884 m).
Among the attractions along the southern section of the road, near the village of Arefu, is the Poienari fortress. The castle served as the residence of Vlad III the Impaler, the prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character. There is a parking area and a path to the ruins.
The northern section is used as a part of yearly cyclist competitions Tour of Romania (Romanian: Turul României). The difficulty of this section is considered to be very similar to Hors Categorie climbs (literally beyond categorization) in the Tour de France.
In September 2009 the cast and crew of the British television show Top Gear were seen filming along the road. The segment appeared in the first episode of Series 14 which first aired November 15, 2009. They were in the country on a grand tour with an Aston Martin DBS V12 Volante, Ferrari California and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder. Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear host, had said about Transfăgărășan that “this is the best road… in the world” – a title the program’s presenters had previously given to the Stelvio Pass in Italy.
If you need a private “car and driver” service in Romania to get you there, or an airport transfer in Romania from Bucharest Otopeni (OTP) airport or intercity transfer in Romania just Contact Us !
Located in the historic region of Transylvania, Sighișoara has a population of 26,370 according to the 2011 census.
The city administers seven villages: Angofa, Aurel Vlaicu, Hetiur, Rora, Șoromiclea, Venchi and Viilor.
During the 12th century, German craftsmen and merchants known as theTransylvanian Saxons were invited to Transylvania by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the frontier of his realm. The chronicler Krauss lists a Saxon settlement in present-day Sighișoara by 1191. A document of 1280 records a town built on the site of a Roman fort as Castrum Sex or “six-sided camp”, referring to the fort’s shape of an irregular hexagon. Other names recorded include Schaäsburg (1282), Schespurg (1298) and Segusvar (1300). By 1337 Sighișoara had become a royal center for the kings, who awarded the settlement urban status in 1367 as the Civitas de Segusvar.
The city played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighișoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it. It is estimated that during the 16th and 17th centuries Sighișoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches. The Baroque sculptor Elias Nicolai lived in the city. TheWallachian prince Vlad Dracul (father of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), who lived in exile in the town, had coins minted in the city (otherwise coinage was the monopoly of the Hungarian kings in the Kingdom of Hungary) and issued the first document listing the city’s Romanian name,Sighișoara. The Romanian name is first attested in 1435, and derives from the Hungarian Segesvár, where váris “fort”.
The city was the setting for George I Rákóczi’s election as Prince of Transylvania and King of Hungary in 1631. Sighișoara suffered military occupation, fires, and plagues during the 17th and 18th centuries. An important source for the history of 17th-century Transylvania, for the period of 1606-1666, are the records of Georg Kraus, the town’s notary.
The nearby plain of Albești was the site of the Battle of Segesvár, where the revolutionary Hungarian army led by Józef Bemwas defeated by the Russian army led by Luders on 31 July 1849. A monument was constructed in 1852 to the Russian general Skariatin, who died in the battle. The Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi is generally believed to have been killed in the battle, and a monument was constructed in his honor at Albești in 1897. After World War I Sighișoara passed with Transylvania from Austria-Hungary to the Kingdom of Romania.
Central Sighișoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city. It has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year, a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July.
Sighișoara is considered to be the most beautiful and well preserved inhabited citadel in Europe, with authentic medieval architecture. In Eastern Europe, Sighișoara is one of the few fortified towns that are still inhabited. The town is made up of two parts. The medieval stronghold was built on top of a hill and is known as the “Citadel” (Cetate). The lower town lies in the valley of Târnava Mare river.
The houses inside Sighișoara Citadel show the main features of a craftsmen’s town. However, there are some houses that belonged to the former patriciate, like the Venetian House and the House with Antlers.
In 2001-2003 the construction of a Dracula theme park in the ‘Breite’ nature preserve near Sighișoara was considered but ultimately rejected, owing to the strong opposition of local civil society groups and national and international media as well as politically influential persons, as the theme park would have detracted from the medieval style of the city and would have destroyed the nature preserve.
Sighișoara is a popular tourist destination for its well-preserved walled old town. The landmark of the city is theClock Tower, a 64 m-high tower built in the 13th century. It is today a museum of history.
Other interesting sights are:
- Sighișoara Citadel – a 12th-century Saxon edifice, is the historic center of the city. Still inhabited, the citadel is listed as a World Heritage Site.
- Weapon Museum – next to Vlad’s birthplace. Very small, but it contains an interesting selection of medieval weapons (swords, arrows, etc.).
- Covered Staircase – a very old stone staircase with a wooden roof along the whole span. This leads up to the Church on the Hill and the cemetery.
- Church on the Hill – contains many frescoes and a crypt. Built on the location of a Roman fort. Located on the side of the hill next to it is one of the Lutheran cemeteries in the city, which contains many tombstones of Germans.
- Bust of Vlad Țepeș – Located around the corner from his birthplace, within sight of the Clock Tower.
If you want to get there using a private car and driver in Romania, or if you just need an airport transfer in Sighisoara or in Romania, just Contact Us at MeetRomania !
Brasov is regarded as the most interesting city in Romania. The city is located amidst immense natural beauty. It is encompassed on three sides by mountains. Brasov is the capital of Brasov County in Romania.
The city is located in central Romania. The Carpathian Mountains lies in close proximity to the Romanian city. The city has a historical and traditional flavor attached to it, which is evident in its various architectural and historical sites. Brasov is one of the leading tourist destinations in Romania.
Brasov, the city in Romania was actually established by some Teutonic knights, way back in the year 1211. The medieval ambience still lingers in many places in the city. The Romanian city of Brasov is rich both historically as well as culturally. There are many cultural events that take place in the city all round the year. Industrialization had begun in the city of Brasov from ancient times, but they rapidly grew and developed with time. Tourism is also an important factor that adds to the country’s revenue. Most of the people make Brasov their center point, while planning their trip around Romania. There are many tourist destinations in close proximity to the city of Brasov in Romania.
Forts, museums, archeological and historical sites are the main attractions in Brasov. The city is also home to several medieval citadels and cathedrals. There are many historical museums in the Romanian city, Brasov, which attract many tourists. The protective fortified walls outside Brasov are also major spots of tourist attraction.
If you want to get there using a private car and driver in Romania, or if you just need an airport transfer in Brasov or in Romania, just Contact Us at MeetRomania !
After a one day visit in Romania, coming in at Giurgiu Port, Diane & Sandy fell in love with Romania and the country-side part of it. This is something that Diane created after she said she got tired of all the “touristic tours” and wanted to try “a different way to see Romania”. If you would like to have the same experience, just Contact Us.
If you have a hand full of grains you’re their best friend. Come and try it out for yourself – lovely experience !