Monday, April 14, 2008


Brasov is in the Romanian region of Transylvania, a name you can’t utter without invoking that of Vlad Tepes Dracula. Tepes (a nickname granted postmortem that means "the impaler") was widely regarded as a hero in Transylvania, long before Bram Stoker appropriated his name and immortalized the man in an 1897 novel. Though indisputably cruel, even by medieval standards, the real Dracula is nevertheless celebrated for beating back overwhelming Turkish forces by scaring them senseless with his favored style of prisoner execution.

Two castles are associated with Dracula. Bran Castle, built in 1382, is a stunning, beautifully preserved amalgamation of turrets rising out of a rocky crag. The place is pure cinematic perfection. It’s been used in several Dracula films, and it’s rumored to have inspired Stoker’s writing. In real life, however, Vlad Dracula never lived there.

Poienari Citadel was Dracula’s true home. Soon-to-be-skewered Turkish captives built the structure in 1459 on a key mountain pass. However, the castle toppled down the mountain in 1888. What remains today is merely a series of head-high ruins. Nevertheless, a visit reveals stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

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