The Real Count Dracula




















    Once upon a time, in the mysterious and creepy realm of Dracula there were
    people who lived in fear of the real blood sucker. Most of us thought that
    Dracula was merely a story written by writer Bram Stoker.

    But it turns out that the inspiration for this dark kingdom is real, found in a
    Romanian province. As in the book, the mist-covered mountains are real, the
    crumbling castles are real, the howling wolves, swooping bats, peasants making
    the sign of the cross, all real. Dracula was an historical figure in Transylvania.
    The places Bram Stoker described in his 1897 novel are actually in the ancient
    town of Bistritz, the Borgo Pass, the Carpathian Mountains.

    The castle of Vlad the Impaler, still exists there. Vlad is believed to be the
    medieval Romanian prince who inspired the character of Count Dracula.  

    Very few people knew about Vlad the Impaler because when the Communists
    came in to take over Romania in 1944, they were determined to stamp out
    native superstitions. They could no longer talk about werewolves or witches,
    and certainly not vampires. Stoker's book was actually banned until 1989 when
    politics opened up Romania to the real world.

    The world is so hungry for Dracula its fangs are dripping. The Bram Stoker
    Dracula was a literary obsession, a bestseller that has been in print for over a
    century. Dracula has been the inspiration for (at last count) 204 movies, the
    subject of fan clubs and fields of scholarship. Like the world of archaeology,
    the world of vampirology is always making news out of ancient subjects.

    The real Dracula, a Romanian Prince named Vlad Tepes, a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler
    was real. He is believed to have been buried in dank monastery in Sighisoara
    near a swampy island in the middle of Lake Snagov.  Today, a cranky monk and a
    housekeeping nun currently inhabit the monastery along with Dracula.

    The Castle Bran, built in 1377 actually has turrets, dungeons, secret
    passageways and billowing flags and is often passed off as Castle Dracula. Vlad
    might have slept there once.

    So who was Vlad? He was one of the worst mass murderers in history, a 15th
    century warrior who relished watching his enemies being tortured. Vlad’s
    favorite method of killing people -- and he killed a hundred thousand -- was to
    impale them through their tenderest parts on long wooden poles, then arrange
    them in a field where he could watch a bunch of them expire. Because he kept
    Romania from becoming Turkey's backyard, Romanians call him a hero, never
    mind the gore.

    Two scholars of both Dracula and Vlad the Impaler, Raymond T. McNally and
    Radu Florescu, are convinced that the vampire is the fictional version of the
    Impaler.

    They note how carefully Stoker researched Transylvanian folklore, history
    and geography to write Dracula, and they have documented that Vlad actually
    signed his name as Draculya.

    His father had been initiated into the society of the dragon, the Dracul (a
    word that also means "devil" in Romanian), and by adding "ya," his name meant
    son of Dracul.

    When historians discovered Bram Stoker’s diaries they were delighted to
    learn that Stoker knew about the real Dracula, Vlad the Impaler.

    The mystery was finally cleared up when an ancient manuscript was discovered
    that stated Vlad the Impaler used to dip his bread in the blood of his enemies
    and eat it -- making him technically a vampire. This legend was based on truth.

    References
    Goldberg, E. A. 2009. Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula (Wicked History).

    Florescu, R. 1994. In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires.