Before you get all excited about organising a vampiric trip to Transylvania, you must know that the Romanians deny Dracula and do not like the image he gives of Prince Vlad, the national hero who defeated the Turks. Nevertheless, they have made Dracula his great tourist ambassador. A myth that instead of getting old is renewed every year with movies, novels, comics, and even a vampiric fashion.
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What to see in Transylvania, the vampiric trip
A vampiric trip to Transylvania stop 1: Bucharest
The Romanian capital is not a particularly vampiric scenario, but you have to visit it. Here we can begin to know the character in which Stoker was inspired to create Count Dracula. We will find a picture of him in the National Museum of History.
In the old neighbourhood of Curtea Veche is the Palace of Vlad Tepes. It is next to the Church of the Annunciation and the Stavropoleos Church , a jewel of Orthodox architecture. It is also very close to the most famous brewery in the city, Carulcu Berre.
Second stop: Bran Castle
If we choose a vampiric trip to Transylvania is because the country is an evocative place. Few others can compete with its surprising mountains, Gothic castles, fortified churches, dark villages, moonlight and bloodthirsty creatures. Although the castle of Bran has nothing to do with Dracula or the famous Vlad. It was never his residence. However, the marked silhouette of the famous Bran Castle looks as vampiric as you can imagine.
Vampiric trip to Transylvania, stop 3: Poienari Castle
If there is any real castle related to Dracula, that is Poienari , in Wallachia. A considerable part of the castle, which rises above a boulder, collapsed on the side of the mountain in 1888.
To access the fortification you have to be in shape: you need to climb 1,426 steps starting at the side of a hydroelectric power station. The reward will be a fabulous view of the gorges of the Carpathians.
Fourth stop: Arefu
Arefu is a small village inhabited only by the descendants of the servants of Vlad Tepes. Rumour has it that in times of the Turks the inhabitants of this village helped the Impaler to flee to the mountains and he, as a sign of gratitude, gave the neighbours their grazing land.
The whole town is today a real tourism project: the inhabitants lodge travelers who can sit around a bonfire, sing popular songs and listen to the stories told by the locals.
Fifth stop: Brasov
Brasov is the great tourist destination of Romania, a city surrounded by perfect mountains, with a centre adorned by baroque facades, bohemian cafés and the beautiful square of Sfatuliu. It is the perfect base to tour the region of Transylvania. One step away are the Bucegi Mountains with the castles of Bran, Rasnov and Sinaia, and the best ski slopes in the country in Poiana Brasov.
Vampiric trip to Transylvania stop 6: Sighisoara
In the centre of the country, an hour and a half by car from Brasov, between the Wallachia and Transylvania regions, you can go a few centuries back in time. The jewel of the region is Sighisoara, one of the oldest inhabited medieval citadels in Europe.
Vlad Tepes was born here. This fortified town, with its colorful mansions and steep cobblestone streets, is one of the most beautiful cities in Romania and capital of the so-called Saxon Country, a series of medieval valleys, villages and fortified churches that were colonized by the Saxons in the 12th century.
Seventh stop: Bistrita
If it were not for Bram Stoker, who never set foot in it, the city of Bistrita would hardly attract the attention of travelers. But the author of Dracula decided that the character of Jonathan Harker was staying on the eve of St. George in a hotel in the town, before leaving for the East, the castle of Dracula. And this makes the little town a must stop in any vampiric trip to Transylvania.
The town is small, but its medieval centre is worth a visit. Afterward, you can continue on your way to places such as the Tihuta pass, the Colibita lake or the (false) Dracula castle. Also, in Bistrita we can find some of the scenarios in the novel, such as the Corona de Oro Hotel, where Harker is staying when he arrives. In the restaurant of the same name, we can taste a typical frigarui, a skewer of pork, cow and sausages on the grill.
Eighth stop: Valle del Borgo
In Northern Transylvania, vampire fans will want to follow the path of Jonathan Harker by passing Tihuta. The route passes through Lake Colibita and the lost village of Lunca Ilvei, to finish in Vatra Dornei, in Moldova.
Ninth and last stop of this vampiric trip to Transylvania: the castle of Dracula
Many people stop at Piatra Fantanele to visit the Hotel Castel Dracula, better known as Dracula’s Castle. With 53 rooms, it is located on the site where Stoker wrote the fictional residence of the character. And hit the stage: the views of the Tihuta pass are splendid.