2014 -Tony and Marion Morrison
you take a medieval castle set in a distant mountain country with a magical, almost
mythical title like 'Transylvania'. Then add a grain of truth. Indeed, ' Vlad
the Iimpaler ' with his improbable sounding name did exist..
was given the name 'Impaler' after his death as he is remembered for his brutal
way of finishing off his enemies. That fits ... He was also 'Vlad Dracula' or
'Draculesti' from the name of a male ancestor.
The history is certain. Vlad lived from 1431 to 1476 or 7 - no one is sure and
was by lineage Vlad lll a Prince of Wallachia - historically then a part of of
Romania north of the Danube river. And that's where the castles are today.
a Dracula figure existed and a brutal one too. Then, add a touch of fantasy. Indeed,
the local folktales are full of vampire legends - blood sucking fiendish demons
abounding in the Transylvanian night... Then to get that creepy feeling raising
the hair on one's neck add some classic Victorian horror writing.
meeting with Count Dracula
suddenly became conscious of the fact that the driver was pulling up in the courtyard
of 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......
... would you want to stay overnight?
Irish writer Bram Stoker's Stoker's Gothic horror novel Dracula first published
in London 1897 had all the elements for a bestseller and more. And much more as
the tale of Count Dracula even with a stake through the heart keeps running and
running - books - films - television and now the internet. It is some story by
cover on the left is from an early edition published in the USA and the image
of the castle on the hill could be said to resemble almost any castle - everyone
looks for clues.
went to Romania
search was on to find castles with some hint of a Dracula past so the first stop
was Bran near Brasov in the Carpathian mountains, about two and half hours north
by road from the capital Bucharest. The small town is in a wooded setting and
the castle is built on an abrupt rocky outcrop. Bran Castle has its own website
and now  is up for sale. The asking price is in the order of 80m US dollars
so we are not in the market. It is known as 'Dracula's Castle'. But is it the
you will guess, Dracula aficionados, scholars and almost anyone who cares
to join the quest tries to match the facts to the fiction and judge if Bran Castle
was used by Bram Stoker for his Transylvanian setting. After all, Bram Stoker
never visited Transylvania so that opens all sorts of doubts.
Vlad the Impaler is supposed to have passed through Bran but seems not to have
lingered. The castle dates from the 13th Century at least as a simple fortification
so could fit as Vlad would have seen it. But that seems to be the only link. Bran
Castle became a Royal residence in 1920 and a favourite of Queen Marie of Romania.
The current interior has kept some of the Royal rooms where memorabilia and photographs
are displayed. Any Dracula connection is kept at a very low key and in the very
top rooms. But it is a wonderful castle - now a National Monument..