Dracula tour by the book

If you’re planning a Dracula tour in Romania, you should read this, if you want to see all the places mentioned in the novel,  and secure an original experience, by the book ( Bram Stoker book).

Everybody knows that Transylvania is the realm of Dracula. There are a few Dracula related places mentioned in every guide book, like Bran Castle or Sighisoara, but are they having anything to do with the count? Are there any other places in Transylvania that can be related to the legend of the famous vampire?

Dracula Book Cover
One of Dracula Book covers

Well, before starting looking on the Internet, I think the best thing to do is to read the novel, written by Bram Stoker. And surprisingly, in the book, there is no mentioning about Bran Castle or Sighisoara. Yes, one can say that those places can be related to Vlad the Impaler, but Bram Stoker didn’t mention them in the novel.

Bran Castle or Dracul Castle? Indeed the Dracula castle is positioned in Transylvania, but the location is in the north of Transylvania, on the Borgo Pass,  not in the South, where Bran is.  What can connect the Bran Castle and the Count Dracula castle? The description of the castle in the book sounds a little bit like Bran Castle: “The castle was built on the corner of a great rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable …… To the west was a great valley, and then, rising far away, great jagged mountain fastnesses,”

Bran Castle old image
This image may have inspired Bram Stoker, when we created the Dracula Castle

Bram Stoker did a great job when we documented his book, at least geographically. All the places mentioned in the book in Transylvania are real, and the description might make us think he has been there. The Transylvanian action in the novel can be found in the first chapter of the book, where the author carries us through north Transylvania, from Cluj to Bistrita, and finally to the Borgo Pass ( Pasul Bargaului in Romanian), near the border with Bucovina. 

Sibiu was also mentioned in the book. The city, with its German name, is mentioned in the novel. “They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due.” We may connect Lake Hermanstadt with Balea Lake, as is the closest big known lake close to Sibiu. So, according to the book, Balea Lake was the place where Dracula attended the sorcerers (solomonari in Romanian) school. 

Balea Lake
Balea Lake might be the Lake Hermanstadt from the book

Then, another place from Sibiu county is mentioned in the book.  It is Medias, or Mediasch: ” The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue, which is, however, not disagreeable”.  Is not a surprise, as Medias, a former Saxon town, located 60 kilometres north of Sibiu, was known for its wine and the grape can be found on the coat of arms of the city.

Medias  coat of arms
Medias coat of arms

Dracula from a historical point of view. There are a lot of hints in the book who are pointing to historical character Vlad the Impaler. First, the name. The Romanian voivode ( the term used for the head of state in Wallachia) was also called Vlad Dracula. He inherited his name from his father, but this is another story. Below we can see an old document with his name on it:

Wladislaw Dragulia
Wladislaw Dragulia or Dracula,

Historical inconsistence. Then, in the book, Bram Stoker is not very consistent. At the beginnig, it is saying about the Count that he was a Szeckler, not Romanian, putting the character in contradiction with the historical evidence: ” We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship“.

Then, the character is getting closer and closer to the real Vlad the Impaler: ” Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed! Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them! ” We know from the history books that Vlad the Impaler  fought the Turks and his brother, Radu, turned against him.

Vlad Dracula
One of the leaflets portraying Vlad Dracula as a cruel, bloodthirsty prince

Then it becomes more clear that the Count character is based on Vlad the Impaler: “He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land.”

Physical resemblance. Another connection with the historical character is the physiognomy. The aspect from his official portrait is as described in the novel: “His face was a strong—a very strong—aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose.  The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking,

Vlad the Impaler official portrait
Vlad the Impaler official portrait

Having said that, if you’re interested in a Dracula themed tour in Transylvania, please contact us, in order to benefit from our experience as experienced travel operators in Transylvania and Romania. Our Romania tour, cover most of the places mentioned in the book, and we can customise the trip especially for you.

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