Why I no longer care if people visit Romania for Dracula

Bran-Castle

Visiting Bran Castle, Bran, RomaniaFair warning: this might be a quite lengthy essay! 

When I was younger, I was royally pissed by the fact that most people came to Romania thinking of vampires and associating Vlad Tepes with Count Dracula. Bran Caslte, one of their favorite vampire destinations, has nothing to do with Vlad or Dracula, but there are hordes of souvenir vendors that capitalize on Bram Stoker’s book and the subsequent movies.

This year, Dracula the TV series debuts in the States, so I expect a fresh wave of people wanting to see the home of said vampire count. Years ago (and in my early days of blogging), I made a point to write an article clearing things up about Vlad, the Bran Castle, and the whole Count Dracula thing. Especially since Elisabeth Batory was Stoker’s main inspiration for the book…

I’ve never been alone in this. Author Ioana Visan has written a really cool vampire series (in English, get it now on Amazon) where Vlad pretty much starts a kill-all-vampires movement and Romania is the only vampire-free country in the world, I’ve also seen a Dracula is dead account on Twitter, or something like that. And I know a lot of people who, over the years, have probably gone from eye rolling to murderous intent due to way too many jokes about Romanians being vampires.

Bran-Castle

I can honestly tell you I cannot remember a time where I’ve talked to someone planning to visit Romania or who has already been here and haven’t gotten into the vampire conversation. I have been called a vampire a few times. I kinda look pale in the photo of me at Bran, I did have red hair at the time, but I promise I have not drained anyone dry. Now, biting is a different story altogether 😀 Or draining them with my being annoying! Plus, given my ability to talk a lot and for indefinite stretches of time, I can assure you a lot of people would prefer to shut me up with a little of their blood.

Jokes aside, I did feel like telling people to stop coming here in search of Dracula. They’d be disappointed. There is nothing that has anything to do with Dracula at Bran. Or elsewhere. Actually, my feeling is Romanian folk tales are not that rich in vampire lore. Strigoi are more often mentioned. That’s what you refer to as zombies or the walking dead. Apparently, garlic repels a lot of supernatural creatures!

Bran Castle Interior, Bran, Romania

Over the past few years, I changed my mind. Frankly, the first and foremost reason I want to visit New Orleans is Anne Rice’s series on vampires. Do I expect to find Lestat there? No. Would I love to? Oh, yes, I’d interview the hell out of him! Are there other things to see in New Orleans? You bet there are! Would I be disappointed? Not really, my imagination would still run wild.

So if you want to chase Dracula and Vlad Tepes in Romania, be my guest! You might not find him in Bran, but if you visit the castle on a gloomy enough day, you’ll get into the right mood and you can always get a Dracula themed fridge magnet! Then go to Sighisoara to see his alleged birth place. And wander throughout the country to meet us vampires living here today.

Bran Castle Romania

Getting anywhere will be murder, just ask Robert! I still think it’s worth it. He might disagree. See, every destination in Romania has its own charm, if you want to discover it. It’s just really hard to get from one place to another without getting seriously annoyed.


7 Comment to “Why I no longer care if people visit Romania for Dracula”

  1. When I went to Romania two years ago from Madrid’s airport, I was asked, ‘Why Romania?’ and my reply was that I’d never been before. I went with no expectations, though I imagined we’d see Bran Castle regardless (it was smaller than I though it would be!). I found Romania to be beautiful, budget-friendly and full of cool sites, especially in Maramures and Bukavina. People may come for touristic purposes, especially those related to Vlad, but I think they’ll be surprised as to how much more there is to Romania.

  2. Cat, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your stay here. Bran is not at all huge. Castelul Corvinilor and Peles are bigger. Maramures and Bucovina are very interesting from a cultural point of view and yes, Romania is surprising in more ways than one.

  3. Christina says:

    I’ve been dying to go to Romania for the last year or so, after reading a few blogs about it. To be honest, I completely forgot about the whole association with vampires thing!

  4. Goodie, now you have more reasons to come visit 😀

  5. Adelina says:

    I’ve visited Cluj and a smaller village close to the Hungarian border and I have always wanted to go back to explore the different parts of Transylvania – not so much because of the vampire association, but because I hear its a beautiful part of the country. Definitely looking forward to going back.

  6. Anda says:

    There is always something that attracts people to a place and if that’s the legend of Dracula, so be it. At least they have a chance to come and discover the beauty of Romania and find out more about the customs and traditions of our people. And if a legend is the only thing foreigners know about Romania, don’t blame them for that. It’s the many year of Communism that dragged that country down and kept it invisible for the world.

    • I agree Anda, as long as they get here, we’re fine 😀 Since writing this post, however, here’s a second Dracula Castle and Bran has changed dramatically in terms of decor.

      I don’t however blame Communism for the fact people know nothing about us. It’s been close to three decades and we’ve had a tourism ministry. And thankfully quite a lot of bloggers and other amazing people (like those who made vola.ro) 😀

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