Transylvania, in central Romania, sheltered from the Carpathian Mountains, is the largest and probably best-known region in the Romanian state. And it is also the best prepared to welcome tourists who come there every year, attracted by its legends and looking forward to admiring its abandoned fortresses, castles and monasteries.
Transylvania, places and districts
Transylvania is divided into districts: Alba, Bistritam Brasov, Cluj, Covasna, Harghita, Hunedoara, Mures, Salaj and Sibiu.
The cities, built in Baroque style, keep intact the charm of medieval villages and are clean and welcoming. Life for tourists is also less expensive than in the vast majority of European tourist resorts, so a trip to Transylvania is also recommended when you want to enjoy a cheap and cheap holiday.
Transylvania, Dracula and the vampire myth
Transylvania owes its fame to vampire stories. According to legend, vampires, who in Romania are called Strigoi, would be all those people who wish to abandon life in the Orthodox faith to convert to Christianity. The effects of this mutation are noticed at the time of death: the body of a Strigoi does not rot and at night comes out of its coffin in search of blood to feed. In some remote villages in Romania this is taken as a fact, and even today the inhabitants protect themselves from their attacks by cutting off the heads of the deceased who are alleged vampires and rely on Necromancing rites to protect themselves from The Curse of the Vampire.
Transylvania is also home to the legendary Vlad Tepes III, for friends Vlad the Impaler, a historical character of real existence who was a count of Wallachia from the mid-1400s and whose figure inspired the Irish writer Bram Stoker in the creation of his masterpiece “”Dracula.”” Vlad Tepes earned the nickname of Impaler because of the brutal practice with which he treated the enemy prisoners: he impaled them alive. Already alive he was considered a very controversial one. He dedicated his life to fighting the Ottoman Empire led by Mohammed II, and died in mysterious circumstances on the battlefield.
Another famous vampire whose family was originally from Transylvania is Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Considered to be the first serial killer and perhaps also the most prolific, legend has it she used the blood of her victims to fill her bathtub. At the trial, the bloodthirsty noblewoman was charged with 600 murders of young virgin girls. He pleaded guilty, was locked up in his castle in Csejte, which lies north of Transylvania.
Transylvania places to visit
The best way to get around Transylvania is by train. Despite the frequent delays that will make us tolerate things, the railway network covers most of the territory. Even the bus line, from Cluj, connects the various counties very well with each other, at the points where the train does not arrive.
The main places in The Legend of Dracula are:
- Bran Castle. According to Bram Stoker, this dark castle 30 kilometers from Brasov would be the home of Count Vlad Tepes III.
- The citadel of Sighisoara. In addition to being the home town of the Tepes family, it is a place to visit for its churches, invariably Gothic and baroque. Another destination in Sighisoara: the hills of Breite, and the cathedral.
- Poenari Castle. It is thought to be the right home of Count Vlad Tepes III. The castle, of which there are now only a few ruins, is located in Arges County, on the border between Transylvania and Moldova. There was a time when it was customary for visitors to spend the night in its ruins.
- Hunyad Castle. Another possible residence of the legendary count.
- Snagov Monastery. Small monastery in the village of Snagov, 40 km from Bucharest. It is the place where, according to tradition, the ashes of Vlad Tepes III rest.
You can also participate in excursions organized around the myth of Dracula; we note that the Mysterious web Journeys includes several tourist packages and will take you to discover the Romanian castles.