Mariana Cristescu, Damen Passo Doble, Editura Nico, Târgu Mures, 2012

Do you want to know the real story of Dracula?




During my travels in the north of Italy I reached even Lago Maggiore, a heaven-like place with Mediterranean climate in a hollow in the Alps.

Fascinated by landscapes, the intense blue of the lake spreading towards Switzerland, the monuments in pink marble in the cemetery, flooded by wild roses, I was enjoying the chromatic show, wondering what other surprises that place could offer me.

On the tortuous streets in Streza I stopped at a stylish coffee shop where the owner was glad indeed to have guests from Romania.

About Romania he only knew about the Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci and had heard about “Count Dracula”. I smiled and specified that Dracula did exist, however he was not a count, in fact he was more than that.

He told me that, since he had seen Coppola’s film, he was wondering whether Dracula did exist actually or it is just a Hollywood exaggeration.

We made friends in no time and we even had a mutually advantageous exchange: a large cappuccino for the real story of Dracula.

And I started…


History and legend…


The history of Vlad the Impaler is wrapped in mystery and legend, and the truth is that nobody knows where the legend ends to make place for the history.

The ruler was chosen by the writer Bram Stoker as the main character of his novel published in 1897. Ever since, Dracula and Transylvania, the land where it is located the mysterious castle inhabited by ghosts and vampires, somewhere in the midst of dark forests, has become the topic of more than 750 films, documentaries or short-stories inspired by the novel of the Irish writer.


Vlad the Impaler was born in the town Sighisoara, in Transylvania in 1431, being later on the ruler of Wallachia. His father, Vlad Dracul, was a knight in the Order of the Dragon, an order of chivalry in the Eastern Europe having as a purpose to stop the extension of the Ottoman Empire.

The blazon of the Order of the Dragon represented a dragon (the Ottoman) and a cross (symbol of Christianity), and Vlad Dracul used to wear this symbol everywhere, on flags, coins and the seal.

His second son was Vlad II – DRACULA, the “a” at the end of the word “Dracul” being a way to establish the belonging – Dracula, the son of Dracul.

The nickname “the Impaler” was attributed to him only after his death in 1476, because of the way to punish the Ottoman, by impaling them. Impaling was a cruel way of execution, the victim being stuck on a sharp pole, as thick as a human arm. It is said that Vlad liked the mass executions, the tips of the poles forming a sort of “wood.” In order to enjoy such “shows” Vlad would organize feasts in front of those who were dying in torture.

As a child, Vlad the Impaler lived as a hostage of the Turks. When his family was killed, he was informed about the torture they had gone through. It seems to be the reason that poisoned his soul and when he became the ruler of the county, he would punish by cutting, skinning, hanging, beheading or impaling.

Known for his sadism, Vlad was at the same time respected by his subjects for the campaigns of fight against the Turks. He was respected both as a fighter and as a ruler who did not tolerate injustice, and during his reign he had some monasteries built. He was loved, and also feared by his people.

For the Romanians, Vlad the Impaler remained a ruler during whose reign one could drink water from the fountain of the Citadel Targoviste with a goblet in pure gold, without anyone stealing it (historical sources confirm the existence of this goblet that was used until the day when Vlad the Impaler died).

The legend of the bloody ruler was coloured in negative aspects and spread in the West by Hungarian merchants, for whom Vlad the Impaler had cancelled some tax exemptions offered by the previous rulers.


Little is known about Dracula’s death. There are a few hypotheses. The most popular story is that he was killed in a battle against the Turks, near Bucharest, in December 1476. Others say that he was killed by governors of Wallachia during the fight.

And what happened with Vlad’s corpse? This is another mystery, a fabric of legends, none of which has been confirmed though.


Most of the historians consider that Vlad was buried near the altar of the Monastery Snagov, monastery located on an island in the middle of Snagov Lake, the only connection being the boats. What is sure is the fact that he was beheaded and his head was taken to Constantinople, so that the whole Ottoman world could see that the reign of the frightening ruler had really ended.


So, Dracula did exist…

We can certainly say that Dracula did exist. That the ruler Vlad the Impaler was the same as the diabolic vampire, it remains a challenge for the fans. It is certain though that the myth of vampires has attracted many (due mainly to the media) facing history.

At the end, I received applause and a glass of Sicily limoncello from a hand painted bottle, which recharged me for the way back to the hotel room.

There are many foreigners – and even Romanians – who do not know the historical truth based on which the legend has been weaved.

What did you know about Dracula?

There are several places related to Dracula’s legend: Bran Castle in the centre of Romania, the house in Sighisoara, a town with medieval architecture and a festival worth seeing, and also a Dracula hotel/restaurant, located in Pasul Bargaului, in the place indicated by the Irish author Bram Stoker. All await you with countless surprises!

Would you like to visit there?

All you have to do is contact us!


P.S. And don’t forget to carry along some garlic… Just in case, to chase the vampires away



Autor: Mihai Iacomi

Iasi, Romania

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