If there is something that everybody heard about Romania, that is of course Dracula’s Castle.
So we decided that our first article will point out what is true and what is not from what youmight have heard about it.
First of all, a little history:
Who is Vlad Dracul, the so called Dracula?
A group of Wallachian noblemen bringing with them a princely scepter made most people living in Nurnberg, the city of imperial diets, defy the cold weather and take part, on February 8, 1431 in an important historical event: emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg conceded the rulership of Wallachia to Vlad, who had been living at his court for eight years. That very day, emperor Sigismund gave his favorite a necklace and a golden medallion with a dragon engraved on it, the badge of the knights of the Order bearing the name of the very same mystical animal.
Waiting for coronation, Vlad and his family went to Sighisoara, Transylvania. For the first two monetary emissions, Vlad used his given emblem, the dragon. Therefore, the Romanians, whose word stock is mainly Latin, nicknamed him Dracul – Dracula (from the Latin Draco-Onis – in Romanian, Drac means Devil).
Vlad is known in Romanian history as Vlad Tepes, that is, Vlad the Impaler, for his penchant for impaling invaders, criminals, and personal enemies alike.
What is the connection between Dracula (Vlad Dracul) and Bran Castle?
The whole Dracula story is actually based on an imbroglio between Vlad’s castles, which were not in Transylvania (since Vlad Dracula was the ruler of the neighboring principality of Wallachia), and the castle where he may have been held prisoner for a while (by the King of Hungary) in Transylvania.
The Dracula myth itself has a complicated story, which began with some hostile stories (about Vlad the Impaler’s extreme cruelty) written by the German colonists in southern Transylvania, who hated Vlad Tepes (because of his attempts to control their trade). These stories were then adapted by the Irish author Bram Stoker, who wrote the romantic-gothic fashion novel of the 19th century: Dracula . Somehow, since the whole story was placed in Transylvania, a location for the castle was needed in the same region.
What is the reaction of Romania to Dracula’s Castle myth?
In the 1970s, (during communism) Romanians realized, once they had more contacts with the West, that there is a myth of Dracula, very different from the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler, and that this myth was somehow connected to Transylvania. They had two conflicting reactions to that: one was to defend Vlad Tepes’ true historical identity and the dignity of Romania’s past, while the other one was to try to cash in on it. These two types of behavior were present both before the fall of communism in 1989, and after.
Bran Castle has become a very visited monument, a venue for cultural tourism, and the noble families who regain such edifices are wisely thinking about continuing the museum tradition in such cases. Furthermore, like everywhere else in the world, such castles cannot be maintained as private residences, because of the huge financial costs.
So my dear friends, whoever read or just heard about Abraham “Bram” Stoker’s novel, expects something else from Bran Castle than it really is. I think this is one of the hidden treasures that Romania should emphasize more …
I would even suggest building a new strategy, in order to satisfy this myth and so many people’s expectations!
Sources: Radio “Free Europe” and http://www.ici.ro/romania/ro/index.html