Tag Archives: transylvania

In Pictures: Transylvania, Romania

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A Real Halloween Experience by Agra-Maria Hadjipanayotis

One of our fabulous clients has written a fantastic piece on her trip to Transylvania. Just in time for Halloween too. Don’t get too spooked! Head over to Agra’s website Diving and Travelling for more of her adventures.

Our journey to Transylvania

Dracula Castle

Together with two very good friends, and after having watched Bram Stocker’s Dracula, several times, we decided to visit the “Dracula Castle”, near Bran and get into the spirit of the movie. Besides booking our flights, everything else was arranged for us by a specialist in adventure travelling and in very unique trips, which are definitely off the beaten track, www.untravelledpaths.com.
The castle has become a very popular attraction in Romania, even though there is no evidence that Dracula had any association with this castle. On the way to Bran the story telling of ghosts, goblins and other spooky creatures had affected us all. I think we were all expecting to see the Count himself, in front of us!
There is an open air market with traditional Romanian products just below the castle. The boys got a bottle of homemade Tuica, a spirit made from plums, to bring some warmth to us in the extreme Transylvanian cold! We also tried some local cheese or even better local ‘Brânză ’. Specifically we tasted Brânză de coşuleţ which is made of sheep’s milk, which had a very strong, yet delicious taste and a semi-soft texture.

As we looked up the hill, the castle stood out and the snowy wind that blew and shook the trees made the atmosphere spooky. The setting was really out of a Coppola movie!
We couldn’t wait to go up and visit the Castle, which is a museum open to the public with collectibles and exhibits of Queen Mary, As well as costumes, treasures and exhibits depicting the local traditions.


After our visit inside the castle, we went to a traditional Romanian Restaurant, Wolf restaurant, close by and tried the local cuisine; even though the food was rich in taste and a bit heavy on the stomach, all the dishes were all delicious.

Helen-Marie a blogger of gray noteshttp://thegraynotes.blogspot.gr/, who was with us shares her personal experience of the ‘Dracula Castle.’
The Dracula legend has always intrigued me; so the part of our Romanian trip to which I was mostly looking forward to was our trespass through the Transylvanian terrain, culminating in a visit to the infamous Bran Castle. Stoker’s tale tells of Jonathan Harker’s passage through the mountains heading towards the Count’s castle as a chilling experience, filled with local mystic superstitions, and the presence of spirits that sent shivers up the readers’ spine. Approaching his destination, Harker is almost in a trance of fear but also a strange excitement, and this was exactly what I feel bearing closer to the Bran Castle. As I explored corridor after corridor, level after level, the hope of sensing Dracula waned. Instead, the castle was a shrine of exhibits to Queen Mary who inhabited the castle as there is no actual proof the historic Vlad III Dracul Tepes, of Order Dragon, the Prince of Wallacia who was branded by urban legend as being, Count Dracula, the first Vampire.
Sadly, only one section of the entire castle was devoted to the legend, and it did not contain artifacts, only some information about the man, his reign, and that there is no true Dracula association with the Bran Castle. What a disappointment for those (like me) who clenched at the hope of discovering some truth in the legend, or the illusion that the creature of darkness once lurked between the walls that surrounded me.
Having said that, the Bran Castle is in itself a truly remarkable landmark and piece of architecture, so I was able to enjoy its beauty after I got over my initial Dracula craving.

Rasnov Fortress
Straight after lunch we visited Rasnov Fortress, a less touristy place with beautiful views from the top of the fortress. We climbed up to the top although there is a little train that takes you to the entrance if you are feeling lazy or are having trouble digesting your lunch. The Fortress was built-in the 14th century as a protective barrier from invasions; inhabitants of Rasnov in times of war moved there with their livestock. Today, one can walk around and see the remainings of the fortress, a deep well 175 m deep and some small shops around, selling traditional products and souvenirs.

Brasov
We spend our evening in Brasov, a very picturesque city. We stayed right in the center of Brasov’s old town square at Casa Wagner hotel which was arranged for us byUntravelled Paths as they have personally checked all the hotels in the area and they recommend only the best ones. The hotel is in a historic building dating back to 1477 and each room has a unique décor and ambience.


Just outside the hotel, there was a local market that opens in the evening with many local goodies, which made us salivate. Hot mulled wine, traditional grilled sausages, caramelized apples were only a few of the things the food stalls were selling. The best thing we discovered though was Kurtos Kolaks, a “barbecue chimney cake”. Kurtos Kolaks are big rolls of dough, baked over coal and covered with caramelized sugar or other toppings like chocolate, walnuts and coconut flakes. It is one of the best desserts we have ever tried in our travels.


At night we went for dinner at Bella Muzica, a MUST-visit restaurant which is really atmospheric with excellent cuisine, in the historic centre of Brasov. We had a great candlelit dinner in a very romantic and warm setting, underground in a long cave with stone walls. Our night ended in a lovely bar “Muzik” for some drinks!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!

Tips/recommendations

  • Untravalled paths is the best choice for organizing your visit to Romania
  • Cristina Pavel is an excellent guide! Thank you Cristina!
  •  Warm clothes as temperatures in Romania are chilly
  •  Make a reservation at the restaurants in Brasov- untraveled paths gives you a mini guide book of all the places they have checked out and they recommend.
  • You will need lots of imagination/fantasy to get into the spirit of Dracula
  • Beware of the dark! …..

From divingandtravelling.com


Ghost Story: The Real Dracula

Thanks to Bram Stoker and Hollywood, Count Dracula is famous throughout the world as the bloodsucking vampire-count of  Transylvania.  But who was the ‘real’ Dracula and was he really as terrible as people imagine? While we’re on the subject, what about vampires? Are these bloodthirsty creatures merely based on myth and legend or is there some truth behind the tales? 

So let’s start from the beginning. A real-life ghost story. Once upon a time…
Vlad Dracul

Vlad Dracul

A little boy called Vlad is born…

Around 1431, a boy called Vlad was born in the three-storey house in Sighisoara within the shadow of the Clock Tower. He took his name from his father, Vlad Dracul, who was a member of ‘The Order of the Dragon’ although ‘dracul’ also derives from the word for ‘devil’.

He didn’t have a very nice childhood…

Vlad, along with his brother, was sent to the Turkish Sultan in 1442 as a hostage where he spent five years in Turkish captivity exposed to the terror and violence of the Ottomans. Years of exile in Moldavia and Transylvania only further informed his education in guile and terrorism.

Transylvanian Saxon engraving from 1462 depicting Vlad Țepeș

Transylvanian Saxon engraving from 1462 depicting Vlad Țepeș

He ruled by the stake…

Vlad Tepes became ruler of Wallachia in 1456 and adopted methods of extreme violence to punish law-breakers. He ruled ‘by the stake’ using his signature execution method of impaling his victims. Hammered onto a stake through the rectum, victims were raised aloft and left to die in agony, for all to see.

And did some pretty nasty things…

In 1459, Vlad the Impaler invited Wallachia’s disabled and unemployed to feast with his at his palace, asking them if they wished to be free of life’s sufferings. Given an affirmative response, Vlad the Impaler proceeded to have them all burnt alive, citing that he never wanted his subjects to suffer from illness or poverty.

Dracula Dines Among Impaled Corpses

German woodcut showing Dracula dining among the impaled corpses of his victims

Some very nasty things…

In 1460, having defeated his rivals in battle, Vlad dined among his impaled enemies using a holy icon as a dish. On occasion he was also reported to have eaten bread dipped in blood. Yuck! To scare off his Turkish enemies, Vlad prepared a forest of stakes 1km by 3km wide, upon which 20,000 captives were impaled.

Then he got his just desserts…

Vlad the Impaler was betrayed and killed. His head is thought to have been sent to the Sultan as a gift while his decapitated corpse was buried inside Snagov Monastery in Transylvania.

Elsewhere, vampirism choked the nation…

Dracula's Castle

Dracula’s Castle

 Vampire epidemics broke out across Eastern Europe. In the 1720s within an Austro-Hungarian village, a dead man who had been buried ten years previously returned as a vampire to his son’s cottage and touched him on the shoulder. By morning, the man was dead. Other reports claimed that long-dead villagers were returning to suck the blood of the village children, which led to several graves being exhumed. Not one of the corpses within showed any sign of decay. Spooky. In 1727, a soldier claiming to have been attacked by a vampire died shortly after his return home. Villagers who had either seen him that evening or had dreamt about him suffered from inexplicable weakness weeks later. When the body was exhumed, the mouth of the decaying soldier was found to be filled with blood and so a stake was driven into the heart.

vampire teeth

Love at first bite

Much later…

In 1899, despite the law against exhuming graves, Romanian peasants in Carasova dug up thirty corpses and tore them limb from limb in an attempt to stop a diphtheria epidemic. In 1909, a Transylvanian castle was burned to the ground by locals who believed that a vampire living within the castle walls was causing the deaths of their children.

Vampires in Twilight

Vampires in Twilight

More recently…

In 1988, in a Serbain village, a girl of thirteen years old was murdered by her family who believed her to be a vampire. And who can forget the recent vampire-movie and -novel craze?! You cannot fail to escape the hype around gorgeous-looking vampires.

Becoming Dracula…

Inspired by the reports of vampirism that were sweeping Eastern Europe, Bram Stoker conjured up his terrifying Count Dracula using the Transylvanian landscape as inspiration for the setting. Nowadays, Looks just how a vampire count’s castle should: a grim façade, perched high on a rock bluff, its turrets and ramparts rising in tiers against a dramatic mountain background.

Frances Dade and Bela Lugosi in Dracula

Frances Dade and Bela Lugosi in Dracula

The facts:

  • There was a Vlad Dracul born in the medieval town of Sighisoara, Romania.
  • Vlad Dracul earned the grim nickname “The Impaler”.
  • Vlad the Impaler later became known as Dracula.
  • Vampire epidemics actually existed.

For trips to Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania, Romania, please click here. We dare you!


Get Spooked: Dracula Castle Escape this Halloween

Dracula Castle Escape Transylvania

Head to Transylvania, Romania this Halloween for a few days of spine chilling experiences with Untravelled Paths. Enjoy two nights in Bucharest and a visit to the infamous Bran Castle for just £275 per person.

Let us transport you deep into the stony heart of the Romanian countryside to a remote corner of the Carpathian Mountains where a castle looms high amongst razor-sharp peaks. Receive a cold welcome to the legendary Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle, and real life setting of Bram Stoker’s sinister novel where you’ll unravel the secrets of the castle. Said to have been the possible residence of Vlad the Impaler during his bloodthirsty reign of terror, you’re invited to explore the eerie corridors and deathly cold rooms at your peril!

Get your fangs into a hearty Romania lunch before climbing up to the crumbling ruins of Rasnov Fortress and admiring some truly spectacular views of the bleak Transylvanian landscape. Discover the medieval town of Brasov before settling in to your warm hotel room for hot chocolate and ghost stories. Other highlights include a guided tour of the decadent Peles Castle in Sinaia and two nights in Romania’s buzzing capital city, Bucharest.

Get spooked this Halloween at Dracula’s Castle. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

3 Night Dracula Castle Escape from £275 pp includes:

  • 3 nights accommodation and breakfast
  • All transfers (in-country & airport)*
  • All day trips & excursions
  • Private, bi-lingual guide

*Flights not included

If you think you’re brave enough, get in touch with us at info@untravelledpaths.com, or you can give us a ring on 0871 662 9521. Go on, we dare you.