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The Real History Behind Dracula


By Lee KaranjaPublished 3 months ago 5 min read

Are they Real?

A thousand years ago, Bulgaria is believed to be the birthplace of the vampire, an undead entity inflicting evil. However, it should be noted that this legend was limited to the Slavs and did not go beyond that. Literally, “vampire” means “ghost monster”, and this gives some insight into how people saw them in those times. Nevertheless all vampires have one typical feature—they feed on important body liquid usually blood. This explains why vampires make interesting characters because they feature so much in literature. Legend of Dracula whose essence lies in the beauty of images and culture Transylvanian-Romance. The exploration of this relationship does not only tell a spooky story about possible or real vampire, but also shows an outstanding city in which numerous splendid architectural masterpieces, extraordinary nature areas, and bright traditions are present.


Vlad III was born in 1431 in the Carpathian Mountains (Transylvania), Romania in the modern day. He descended from a father by the name Vlad II Dracul who was the ruler of Wallachia, a principality located in Southern Transylvania. The name “Vlad II”, derived from the medieval practice of naming family members with particular characteristics, came about when he took up membership in the Order of the Dragon – a Christian military order which was backed by the Holy Roman emperors who were in charge of this group at that time. There are constant fights that usually take place in Transylvania and Wallachia positioned between the Christian Europe and Ottoman Empire. Ottoman armies moved into Europe and the Christian Crusaders either faced them or went on campaign for the land of the Holy Sepulcher.


After that Vlad II attended a diplomatic mission in 1442 with Sultan Murad II and with his sons Vlad III and Radu. Nevertheless, the session resulted in a trap, where they managed to jail them. Finally, Vlad II was released upon condition that he left his sons in prison. While at the captive of the Ottoman, Vlad and his younger brother had been educated on diverse topics while he himself learnt horse riding and warfare. Some stories allege that at the same time Vlad was imprisoned, tortured, and even saw the Ottoman Turks impale their enemies on spears. However, the fate of the remaining members of Vlad’s family was not so fortunate. The local warlords deposed and killed his father while his elder brother was blinded, tortured, and buried alive. Whether these were the circumstances which turned Vlad III into ruthless killer or not, one thing is for sure – it was only after being set free from Turkish captivity in 1504 that his bloody era began shortly after the death of most members of his family.

Vlad the Impaler

One of the most horrible tales about Vlad’s leadership is the Ottoman assault on the Kingdom of Wallachia that took place in 1462. By burning down his lands and destroying them, Vlad intended that the formidable Ottoman army should not advance further. This dreadful episode culminated at Targoviste where twenty thousand bodies impaled onto stakes greeted the advancing army. The sight would have astonished even Sultan Mehmed II and his army that had witnessed so many massacres. There were tens of thousands of corpses already eaten by crows. Vlad’s victories over the Ottoman attackers were celebrated in Wallachia, Transylvania and other parts of Europe, even giving credit to Pope Piuc II himself.” Nevertheless, Vlad’s name gradually became synonymous with a whole array of atrocities, particularly amidst his victories. He was also said to have eaten with his friends among a grove of fallen enemy warriors, impaled onto sticks. Although no tales could verify that Vlad III Dracula dipped bread in the blood of his victims across Europe, people knew how cruel the man was.

His Death

It happened in 1476 when Vlad and a few other men were en route to fight against the Ottoman forces. Sadly, Vlad died and then got beheaded. A number of stories also indicate that his head was brought before Mehmed II to Constantinople and displayed at the tower above the city’s gates. Vlad was popularly regarded as a legend among the locals long after he had died, due to his courageous defense of the country from the attacking Ottomans.

The Bran Castle

Purchased in 1498 by the Transylvanian Saxons of Brașov from king Vladislas II of Bohemia and Hungary. Though the Ottoman sultan Suleyman The Magnificent conquered the Hungarian capital as early as 1541, the Transylvanian Saxons continued to possess the castle. Gabor Bethlen was a Prince of Transylvania, who carried out considerable renovations and reinforced the castle in the 1620’s. In 1687, the House of Habsburg assumed control over the region while the castle remained under Transylvanian ownership as attested by a decree known as Diploma Leopoldinum which was authored in 1690. In the hands of local ownership, the castle was restored several times in order it be adapted as a fortress – the last renovation date back to the 1880s. Nevertheless, it started to lose its shape and deteriorate afterward.

Bran castle was acquired by Brasov city in 1920 for Queen Marie of Greater Romania and turned into summer residential area. Before and even after the death of king Ferdinand I she lived in the estate where she had resided during her wedlock. Further, Queen Marie built Tea House that is one of the most significant contemporary constructions appended as well in the castle but it turned to be a restaurant. After Marina died in 1938, her daughter, princess Ileana had to go out of the country because the new communism regime occurred in 1948. Communists turned it into a museum and made it publicly accessible in 1956. In 1991 Princess Ileana died, while in 2009, the post-communist Romanian government assigned the castle to her son Archduke Dominic of Habsurg. Since then, the castle has remained operational as a museum.

While it is a common knowledge that there are no real vampires in Romania, the country fully appropriates the traditional stories associated with these creatures, thus creating an attractive destination for everyone interested in supernatural beings, gothic and horror.


About the Creator

Lee Karanja

Curator of stories & articles that transport you to extraordinary places.

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