Publication Day, Transylvania’s History A to Z, 100 Word Stories

Happy Publication Day to me, Transylvania’s History A to Z, 100 Word Stories is LIVE on Amazon as eBook and paperback.

Happy Publication Day to me, Transylvania’s History A to Z, 100 Word Stories is LIVE on Amazon as eBook and paperback.

An Amazon preview of Transylvania’s History A to Z, 100 Word Stories:

In Transylvania’s History A to Z, a collection of 100-word stories sprinkled with breathtaking photographs, Patricia Furstenberg uses the confining rules of the 100-word story form to stirringly capture Transylvania, Romania’s historical and geographical region.

Transylvania’s unspoiled natural beauty, its tumultuous history, and the people who touched it are depicted in this book.
Written as snapshots, tall tales, and descriptive narratives, these 100-word stories are the espresso of creative writing.

A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1
Each 100 Words Story is followed by a brief historical reference

The unique beauty of a 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between the sentences. So much can be told, with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader, as each time the tale is read, a new detail springs to mind.

“As an armchair historian, I love researching lost tales, traveling, exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no detail is too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100-Word Stories based on the history of Transylvania.” (Patricia Furstenberg)

100-word stories included in Transylvania’s History A to Z:

A Paleolithic Murder
Behind the Cave Art
Conduct in a Neolithic Kingdom
Dacian Horses of Bronze Age
Echoes of a Battle, the Getae
Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans
Greed, of the Roman Kind
Hope Has Multiple Faces
Immortalis, the Immortal
Jottings on a Tree
Kaleidoscope by Castra Micia, Hunedoara
Laudable Attempt, to Some Extent
Motives of Christianity
New Footprints on Old Land
Oh, This Sweet Language of Ours
Powerful Tahutum Wants Transylvania
Quest Beyond the Forest
Romanian’s Brother, the Woodland
Sincerely, your m-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA
Ţara is Terra
Under the Threat of Crusades
Vlad the Impaler
Wars with Ottomans
X, I Sign My Letter with a Cross
Year of Our Lord, 1848
Zest for Peace and Unity

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories – CLICK on the image to go straight to your Amazon of choice.

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories
Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories – CLICK on the image to go straight to your Amazon of choice.

You can read more of my stories about Transylvania on my blog here.

COVER REVEAL, Transylvania’s History 100-Word Stories and Photos and Giveaway!

cover reveal 100 word stories Transylvania's history and book giveaway

Welcome to the COVER REVEAL for Transylvania’s History, 100-Word Stories and Photos and Giveaway!

Many of you may remember the 100-word stories I started publishing on this blog. The idea came to mind to finish the A to Z series inspired by snippets from Transylvania’s history and, together with snapshots from my travels, to publish them in a book.

Thus, A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1

Read on to the COVER REVEAL…

How the Giveaway works:

STEP !: Make sure you Follow my blog if you don’t do so already.

STEP 2: Comment on this blog post with something you know or have learned about Transylvania – it can be something you read on my blog – and you will be entered in the Giveaway!

(Giveaway closes on Saturday, 21 August, 6am GMT)
This Competition is now closed.

Read on to the COVER REVEAL…

What do you WIN in the Giveaway? An e-Book copy of my upcoming book!

Read on to the COVER REVEAL…

Here are the 100-word stories that were edited and made it into the book, along with others. Just click on an image to read it.

Paleolithic Murder in Transylvania 100 words story
Following a timeline of prehistorical discoveries, Conduct in a Neolithic Kingdom is a 100 words story inspired by Transylvania's history
Echoes of a Battle, Getae, Romania

Read on to the COVER REVEAL…

falx gladius Daoi Romans
Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story

Read on to the COVER REVEAL…

hope has multiple faces, Roman history, 100 words story
Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance 100 words story

Cover Reveal for A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1 – almost there!

In Transylvania’s History A to Z, a collection of 100-word stories sprinkled with breathtaking photographs, Patricia Furstenberg uses the confining rules of the 100-word story form to stirringly capture Transylvania, Romania’s historical and geographical region.

Transylvania’s unspoiled natural beauty, its tumultuous history, and the people who touched it are depicted in this book.
Written as snapshots, tall tales, and descriptive narratives, these 100-word stories are the espresso of creative writing.

The unique beauty of a 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between the sentences. So much can be told, with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader, as each time the tale is read, a new detail springs to mind.

Cover Reveal for A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1:

COVER REVEAL Transylvania's History Giveaway, A - Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1

UK Amazon Link
US Amazon Link
Canada Amazon Link
India Amazon Link
Australia Amazon Link
Germany Amazon Link

Release day Monday, the 23rd of August, exclusive to Amazon.

Remember the Giveaway!

Thank you for taking part in the COVER REVEAL for Transylvania’s History, 100-Word Stories and Photos and Giveaway!

Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming – Historical Uphill

Rucar Bran Pass

Strolling uphill from Rucăr to Bran is like walking through a dream-like space among villages lost in time, and under the watchful eye of millennial Bucegi – Leaota mountains on one side, and the spectacular Piatra Craiului, Prince’s Stone (like a sleeping dragon covered with a blanket of clouds) and Iezer on the other.

Rucăr is located in Arges County, the historical province of Wallachia, while Rucăr-Bran Pass and Bran Castle are located in neighboring Brasov County, in the historical province of Transylvania.

Yet the beauty of the natural passthat winds uphill from Rucăr, through a mountain corridor, to finally reach Bran Castle lies not only in the nature surrounding it, or in the history trapped underfoot, but also in the memories it carries.

Let’s rouse ourselves and allow this journey to kindle our minds and stir our imagination. Thus, we will proceed from Rucăr and make our way up to Bran.

Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming - Historical Uphill. Rucar Dambovicioara Rucar-Bran Pass Bran Castle mapp
Rucar – Dambovicioara – Rucar-Bran Pass – Bran Castle (~ 50km)

Historical, romantic Rucăr

As a teen, I was lucky to spend my summers up at Rucăr. It was a time before Eco-tourism was even a whisper. Yet I did not lodged in the charming Rucăr village, the one spread along the main road with its white and pastel houses, but up on a hill, in a farmer’s holding. Fresh, steamy milk for breakfast, roasted chickens for dinner, home-made sausages too. Surely there would have been fresh vegetables on the table, I just don’t remember them…

Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming - Historical Uphill. Romania towards Dambovicioara
towards Dambovicioara – Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming – Historical Uphill

Rucăr was inhabited by Dacians as far back as the Roman occupation as part of Dacia Inferior. Relics of a Roman castrum and even of a frontier fortification (limes) wall were unearthed in the area.

Lok at the image below. See the dotted vertical line bordering Dacia Inferior on the right side? The Roman frontier wall would have – more or less – followed it from the south, where Danube flows, towards the mountains, up to Dâmbovița Bridge, near Dâmbovicioara’s Gorge.

The Roman Empire LIMES (Breeze et al. 2009

Back then Rucăr would have been called Ruffa Arbor, Ruddy Tree – for the beech tree forests turning crimson in autumn. Over the centuries Rucăr had known many names, by the history and the people that washed over it: Slavonic Rukel, Saxon-Germanic Rothbaun, Ruckendorf, or old Romanian Rucalu.

Rucar, ruddy red - by the beech trees in autumn
Rucăr in autumn. Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming – Historical Uphill

It was not far, west of Rucăr, that the renowned Battle of Posada took place.

It was 1324 and the relations between the greatest power of eastern Europe then, the Hungarian Kingdom, and Voivode Basarab I of Wallachia, Basarab the Founder – and vassal to King Charles I of Hungary – were auspicious. The Pope himself held Voivode Basarab I in high regard for his work on the battlefield against the infidels, the Turks. Yet King Charles I, a military expansionist, had his eye on Wallachia, and tried to undermine Voivode Basarab I in the eyes of the Pope.
A military confrontation took place, lasting four long days, 9 – 12 December 1330, known in history as the Battle of Posada, although the geographical location of the combat is still unclear; in a narrow, gorge-like valley near Curtea de Arges, where Voivode Basarab I held court? Perhaps the valley of Topolog? Or further east, between today’s Podu Dambovitei, and Rucăr?
King Charles I attacked Voivode Basarab I for “[he] is the shepherd of my sheep, and I will drag him by his beard from his lair.
Outnumbered by 3 to 1, the Wallachians emerged victorious, King Charles even loosing his royal seal in battle (I wonder how much is worth today?) and escaping only after he donned a servant’s attire. (The servant, dressed as the king, was killed).
The victory of Basarab I at Posada marked the independence of Wallachia from the Hungarian crown. But not for long…

The Hungarian’s attacks prior to the Battle of Posada left the Basarab’s royal palace of Curtea de Argeș destroyed. A new fortress was built for the seat of the Wallachian principality at Câmpulung, south of Rucăr.

We’ll stick with Câmpulung for during the ruling of Basarab’s grandson, Vladislau I (Vlaicu-Voda), a border post was found here.

Yet… the new King of Hungary, Louis I the Great, Louis of Anjou, dreamed of expanding the Hungarian Kingdom over Wallachia. Why, he already had Transylvania in his pocket!
In 1354 King Louis I dangled the Banate of Severin (a territory west of Wallachia) in front of the new Wallachian ruler, Basarab’s son Nicholas Alexander. And King Louis received something for in return, a small step towards fulfilling his plan. The Wallachian Voivode, a Christian Orthodox ruler, recognized the right of the Roman Catholic Church to establish missions in Wallachia. And… the Saxon traders from Brașov were allowed to transit Wallachia without paying duties.

With time King Louis I added extra pressure over the Wallachian Voivode, added the Transylvanian fiefdoms of Amlaș and Făgăraș (inhabited by Vlachs) in the balance… And by 1369 the new Voivode of Wallacia, Vladislau I, had recognized King Louis I as his overlord…

The expansionist plan of King Louis I was taking shape…

When Vladislau I (Vlaicu-Voda) ruled Wallachia (1364 – 1377) he was known as the Transalpine Voivode (trans -Alpine = over the Alps, as the Carpathians are similar in appearance and climate with the Alps), and was also Duke of Severin, Almas and Fagaras. Vladislav I was uncle to Mircea the Elder, Vlad the Impaler’s paternal grandfather.

And this is how we have the first documented mention of Rucăr, dating from 1377 when King Louis I planned to finally incorporate Wallachia into the Hungarian Kingdom (the Kingdom of Saint Stephen).

Thus… Bran was to receive a new fortress, a privilege granted by King Louis I to the inhabitants of Brasov on 19 November 1377 … and for this reason the border post was moved from Câmpulung (Câmpulung Muscel) to Rucăr (close to the Hungarian Kingdom’s southern border).

While all these years, no matter what political plans were in place, merchants and traders still traveled between Wallachia and Transylvania – along Rucăr Bran Corridor.

Years later I took the same road and traveled further uphill, towards the mountains, past colorful homes lining a tarred road, a mere tourist lucky to only catch glimpses of quaint timber dwellings scattered across lush hills.

Dâmbovicioara, a 16th century hamlet, a gorge and some ancient caves

One of my first childhood memories places me in front of a gush of icy water running over a bed of stones. Its sparks run with the sunshine and over the smooth rock. I can see my fingers stretched in front oh me and I feel as if I want to catch the icy droplets of glitter, the sun scorching my back. Or least dig out a pebble as a memento.

Long before souvenirs ever made sense, my heart knew I was living in the moment.

child playing mountain spring Romania
My son playing in mountain spring in Romania

I was with family and friends at Dâmbovicioara’s Gorge, Cheile Dâmbovicioarei.

More memories emerge.

A narrow road lined with pebbles, bordered by cliffs that hold the sky. And the joyful knowledge that the cool gorge, after a hot August ride, meant that we were nearly there. This was the time before car air-con and safety belts, when a vehicle transported as many as could merrily fit inside.

Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming - Historical Uphill. Dâmbovicioara's Gorge, Cheile Dâmbovicioarei.
Dâmbovicioara’s Gorge, Cheile Dâmbovicioarei. Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming – Historical Uphill

Dâmbovicioara village dates back to the middle of the 16th century. Podu Dambovitei village (Dambovita Bridge) is thus named after an ancient wooden bridge built over Dâmbovita river, and well-used by those traveling along the Rucăr Bran Corridor, between Wallachia and Transylvania.

Further on, at an altitude of 861m, the secretive Dâmbovicioara Cave opens up. Only half the length of the underground grotto is open to the public. I enjoyed visiting, especially since the guides are none other but children from a local school.

Dambovicioara-Cave
Inside Dâmbovicioara Cave

The whimsy road between Dâmbovicioara and Rucăr Bran Pass

Left and right, if you know where to look, history speaks to you. Listen to these name: German’s Fortress, Cetatea Oratia, Saxon’s Hill, Dealul Sasului, Turks’ Fields, Plaiul Turcilor, German Woman’s Spring, Izvorul Nemtoaicelor.

Oratia Fortress, Rucar-Bran, Saxon Hill
Oratia Fortress, between Podu Dambovitei, and Rucar-Bran Pass, on Saxon’s Hill (Dealul Sasului)

A paved road winds now though a forest of secular fir trees. Only two lanes, at times the road’s shoulder only marked by boulders painted with limewash. Somewhere along the road, after it makes a nearly 360 degrees bent climbing the steep slope, we leave Arges County and enter Brasov.

The primordial Rucăr Bran Pass

If you close your eyes and open your heart to the wind roaring among the rising stones and to the whispers of the evergreen trees, maybe you will hear the echo of a bell, the bleating of sheep, the call of old folk. For the same path that still exists today was first used by shepherds as they moved their flock from the valleys below to the rich pastures nestled in the mountains.

It was a time before soldiers or merchants ever set foot on this very same road that we, the latest arrivals, tread on today. We label it transhumance, they called it a way of life.

cioban frm Hunedoara, Transylvania, Dacian origin
Romanian words of Dacian origin: this is a shepherd (baci), wearing a mustache above his upper lip (buză), a hat (căciulă), a wide belt (brâu). here are trees (copaci) between him and his hamlet (cătun), a brook (pârâu) too. His sheep will give milk for good cheese (brânză), whey-cheese (urdă) too. His clever dog probably doesn’t ned a collar (zgardă) and it brings the man great joy (bucurie).

Even today shepherds still graze their flocks, and still use traditional methods for making cheese in pine bark. Wooden houses are scattered over hills, their lush meadows fragrant with the scent of blackberries and strawberries.

The same road stretched underneath the same sky just a few centuries back, when traders with overflowing wagons, topped with goods, but concealed weapons too, trekked along it. Saxons from Braşov, or traders from Wallachia, just as excited to meet like-minded merchants, afraid they be robbed, and ducking when the way narrowed at Rucăr Bran Pass. Eyes darting left and right. Warriors anywhere? Armed men striding to a fight? Phew, all peaceful today!

Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming - Historical Uphill. looking at Rucar Bran Pass
looking at Rucar Bran Pass from the border line between Arges and Brasov counties. Rucăr Bran Corridor, Romantic, Beautiful, Charming – Historical Uphill

Even in the 21st century, in the sprinkle of helmets surrounding Bran, among secret mountain paths and whimsical clearances, pastoral rituals are still observed. Thus, on the last Saturday of the month of September, the sheep are brought down from the mountains, after a summer’s worth of grazing, and returned to their owners for the winter, răvăsitul oilor, ‘the outpouring of the sheep’. The shepherds also share with the owners the cheese produced during spring and summer.

view from Bran to Rucar over the pass
Looking back, the view from Bran Castle towards Rucar over the pass

We left old Rucăr, trod uphill to Podu Dambovitei, along the winding road leading to Rucăr-Bran Pass, and we made it to Bran Castle. What’s next?

A book of short stories on Bran’s history coming soon and one on Transylvania’s spectacular past.

Discover my books on Amazon.

A New Literary Comparison, Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Vlad the Impaler

New Literary Comparison Bram Stoker Dracula Vlad Impaler

A reader’s literary comparison between Bram Stoker’s Gothic character Dracula and Wallachian Voivode Vlad the Impaler, aka Vlad Dracula.

I was reading through the notes Bram Stoker made prior to writing his gothic Dracula novel – the originals should be in Rosenbach Museum & Library of Philadelphia. Like many of you, I know that the opinions are divided between scholars and fans who believe that Stoker used Vlad the Impaler as his inspiration for Dracula, and those who do not.

If my scientific background taught me anything, is to research and draw my own conclusions. So here we go, looking at Bram Stoker’s notes and at how he portrayed his literary character Count Dracula and comparing them to what historical documents and sources tell us about Vlad the Impaler the man, aka Vlad Dracula, Vlad III, Voivode of Wallachia.

I hope it will be an enlightening and fun read for you.

How the literary character of Count Dracula took shape

Bram Stoker’s earliest dated Notes for his novel Dracula were written as far back as 8 March 1890 (Dracula was originally published on 26 May 1897). The common belief is that Bram Stoker took only two years to write his 418 pages, and approximately 161 000 words.

On Bram Stoker naming his Count Dracula character

Interesting to know is that Stoker’s Notes include three casts of characters. In the former list the characters were only identified by their occupation.

With regards to the main character, in the initial Notes Stoker simply named him Count: “Count’s servants”, “in power of Count,” while in his character lists Stoker named him “Count…” Only at some stage later did the name Count Wampyr appeared.

Yet Wampyr was too revealing, isn’t t? 🙂

Further, Bram Stoker followed the chilling wind that swept through 19th century Gothic literature and made his anti-hero a member of the European aristocracy.

It was 1890 when, during a rainy summer holiday spent with his wife and son in Whitby, Stoker discovered information on a Voivode Dracula and Transylvania in a public library. Stoker was already a few months into his first draft by now. It was now when Stoker read William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia and made notes from it.

William Wilkinson, 1820, An Account of the Principalities Wallachia and Moldavia - where Voivode Dracula is mentioned - a book on which Bram Stoker referenced his Dracula novel
Mentions of Voivode Dracula in William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia

“Wallachia continued to pay it [tribute] until the year 1444; when Ladislas King of Hungary, preparing to make war against the Turks, engaged the Voivode Dracula to form an alliance with him. The Hungarian troops marched through the principality and were joined by four thousand Wallachians under the command of Dracula’s son.

William Wilkinson, An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia

On Vlad the Impaler being named Dracula

I have to say something about William Wilkinson book, so do take note.

In the text above Dracula should have been Dracul and here’s why.

In 1444 the Vovode of Wallachia was Vlad II, known as Vlad Dracul, who was Vlad the Impaler’s (Vlad Dracula’s) father.

Vlad II received his nickname Dracul being a member of the elite Order of the Dragon, fraternatis draconem, since 1431 (the year when his son Vlad III was born). The military Order of the Dragon was created in 1408 by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg to defend the cross and fight the enemies of Christianity, particularly the Ottoman Empire.

The membership of the Dragon Order was passed on from father to son, thus young Vlad III was also a member of the Order of the Dragon.
Thus, Vlad II was known as Vlad Dracul, or Drăculea (in Romanian), while his sons, especially Vlad III, Vlad the Impaler, was known as Son of Dracul, Dracul-a, Dracula.
(Spoken in Romanian, dragon or dracul can sound quite similar).

(Vlad’s elder bother, Mircea, was killed at the same time with their father, thus the membership of the Order was passed on to young Vlad III. Vlad III had two more brother who outlived him, Radu the Handsome and Vlad the Monk).

Below, we can see the symbol of the order and a medallion that Vlad II carried and was among the few relics he left to Vlad III, was a coiled dragon with a cross on top:

The Medallion of the Order of the Dragon and the Coat of Arms of Vlad Dracul (Vlad II)
The Medallion of the Order of the Dragon and the Coat of Arms of Vlad Dracul (Vlad II)

In Romanian folklore a dragon is the symbol of evil, even of the devil (dracul in Romanian) that always had to be defeated.
The Byzantines called Vlad II Dragulios or Dracules after he was invested with the Order of the Dragon.

This footnote from William Wilkinson’s book would have caught Bram Stoker’s eye too:

William Wilkinson footnote, Dracula in the Wallachian language means Devil - Bram Stoker source research
William Wilkinson footnote, Dracula in the Wallachian language means Devil – Bram Stoker source research

* Dracula in the Wallachian language means Devil. The Wallachians were, at that time, as they are at present, used to give this as a surname to any person who rendered himself conspicuous either by courage, cruel actions, or cunning.”

William Wilkinson, An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia

In Wilkinson’s book, the one Stoker consulted, these three mentions (shown above) are the only references to Voivode Dracula.

Speaking of nicknames, the Turkish enemies of Vlad III, Vlad Dracula, called him Kaziklu Bey, the Impaler. Although impaling was a torture method largely used by Ottomans and Germans ahead of Vlad III.

On the novel’s title, Dracula

Surely, the fame and meaning carried by the name Dracula left a big impression on Stoker – eventually. For his novel’s original title was The Un-Dead, and it was with this title that the typescript was submitted to the publisher in the spring of 1897.

How could have Bram Stoker overlooked a title as charismatic as Dracula? Three syllables that roll down the tongue and open one’s mouth, Dra-cu-la, like three spells, exotic and potentially hazardous, yet irresistible, with puzzling consequences.

Back to Bram stoker and his novel Dracula. Was its character Count Dracula based on Wallachian Voivode Vlad III, Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracula?

Is there a physical resemblance between Vlad the Impaler and Bram Stoker’s Dracula?

In his historical paper De Bellis Gothorum written in 1472 Nicholas of Modruš, Croatian bishop, describes Vlad the Impaler thus: “He wasn’t particularly tall, but sturdy and muscular, with a harsh and fierce appearance. His nose aquiline, his nostrils flaring, his skin fine but ruddy, and he had very long eyelashes that framed large, green eyes. But his eyebrows, dark and thick, gave him a menacing look. His face was clean shaven, expect for his mustache. His prominent temporal ridges increased his head’s appearance and his neck, as thick as a bull’s, ended in broad, strong shoulders on which his dark, curly locks rested.”

Below, a 15th century portrait of Vlad III, Vlad the Impaler, Voivode of Wallachia, to be seen at Ambras, Innsbruck Austria
AND
Max Schreck in Nosferatu, 1922, ranked as the best movie based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Why Nosferatu?
One of the suggested etymologies for Nosferatu is that it is derived from the Romanian nesuferit , meaning “offensive” or “unbearable”

15th century portrait of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, found at Ambras, Innsbruck AustriaMax Schreck in Nosferatu (Dracula)

Based on Bram Stoker’s summary, here’s how the writer envisaged his character Dracula: “tall and thin… waxen… old (although, after feeding, he may appear to be younger)… Nose: “aquiline … high bridge … thin… peculiarly arched nostrils”… Hair: scanty around temples, profuse elsewhere… Eyebrows: very massive “almost meeting over the nose”… Eyes: red… Mustache: heavy, concealing much of the mouth… Mouth: “fixed and rather cruel-looking” with ruddy red lips… Teeth: “sharp white teeth [that] protruded over the lips”… Ears: pale, with “extremely pointed” tops… Hands: coarse, “broad, with squat fingers,” hairs in center of palm, long and sharp fingernails… Odor: fetid breath.”

In this video you can glimpse at Vlad the Impaler’s portrait hanging in the Portrait Gallery of Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria (at minute 1:00)

On Count Dracula and Vlad the Impaler’s ancestries

Bram Stoker gave his Count Dracula a Székler origin. This was a subgroup of the Hungarians who lived in Transylvania starting with the middle ages.

Whenever he spoke of his house he always said ‘we,’ and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking… ‘We Szekelys have a right to be proud…’

Dracula, from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Vlad the Impaler was of Romanian blood, from Wallachia after his father, Vlad’s paternal grandfather being Mircea the Elder, Prince of Wallachia from a long line of Vlachs. After his mother, Princess Eupraxia, Cneajna of Moldavia, Vlad the Impaler had the blood of the Romanians from the north-east, from the ruling line of Alexander I of Moldavia, aka Alexander the Good.

What about Bram Stoker’s reference to ‘Dracula’s race’?

Count Dracula speaks in Chapter III and most of what Bram Stoker knew about Vlad Ţepeş’s life, exploits and lineage is contained in this speech:

When was redeemed that great shame of my nation, the shame of Cassova [unclear reference, the 1389 Kosovo Battle or the 2nd Battle of Kosovo, 1448?], when the flags of the Wallach and the Magyar went down beneath the Crescent, who was it but one of my own race [Székler, although we established that Stoker was wrong about Vlad Dracula being of Székly ascendance] who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? [Unclear, again. Perhaps Vlad the Impaler’s 1462 raids along Danube? OR maybe Hunyadi’s 1456 victory at the Siege of Belgrade, also on Danube] 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! Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race [Stoker might mean the Wallachians, who later fought the Turks many times over, but then he contradicts himself, as he first considers Vlad Dracula to be a Székly, now he is a Wallachian] who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river into Turkeyland; who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, and again, though he had come alone from the bloody field where his troops being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph?

Bram Stoker, Dracula (Chapter III)

I believe that, no matter how much history is condensed in this speech, it is vague. Indeed, Count Dracula might see himself as a descendant of the great Dracula lineage, due to their military prowess and bravery. Yet Bram Stoker does not even mention which Dracula, the father or the son, although he mentions a timeline including both….

OR Count Dracula sees himself as a Magyar descendant of such brave people? OR a descendant of Hunyadi, the White Knight, aka a Törökverő – The Turk Beater, and a Hungarian National Hero (of Romanian origin)?

Bram Stoker Notes Dracula. Source  Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula, Eighteen-Bisang and Miller
Source Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula, Eighteen-Bisang and Miller

Bram Stoker had made some basic notes on Romania’s history too: “Ancient Kingdom of Dacia = Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania and Temesvar – finally conquered by Romans” – a note he made after Wilkinson’s book, as well as other notes loosely following a timeline of Wallachia’s history. These notes did help prepare Count Dracula’s speech on his own ancestry (above).

If Stoker’s notes based on Wilkinson’s book were intent to draw a parallel between Count Dracula’s ancestry line and that of Vlad Dracula’s bloodline, is a loose thought, especially given the unclear speech Count Dracula gave upon his ancestors and the fact that no further reference to Vlad the Impaler is encountered later in the novel.

There is no further evidence in Stoker’s Notes showing that he researched the life of Voivode Vlad the Impaler at all, other than what he found in Wilkinson’s book (see above). His Notes do mention a few works about Eastern Europe written around the time he lived, but there is no evidence in his scrupulous notes that he got to read them.

Furthermore, in the novel Dracula, Arminius, the friend from Buda-Pesth, informs Professor Van Helsing that the Count has been “in life a most wonderful man” (chapter 23).

Since we’re at Arminius, Bram Stoker might have used this name as a nod to Ármin Vámbéry or Arminius Vámbéry, a Hungarian Turkologist and traveller Stoker was acquainted with. In his writings, Vámbéry mentions Vlad Dracul and medieval Romania.

I believe that Stoker used the knowledge he obtained from Vámbéry as it reflects in this passage about Wallachia’s past:

“In old days there were stirring times, when the Austrian and the Hungarian came up in hordes, and the patriots went out to meet them—men and women, the aged and the children too—and waited their coming on the rocks above the passes, that they might sweep destruction on them with their artificial avalanches. When the invader was triumphant he found but little, for whatever there was had been sheltered in the friendly soil.”

Bram Stoker, Dracula (Chapter II)

In the above quote Dracula refers to the battle of Posada, November 1330, when a small Wallachian army led by Basarab I (cavalry, foot archers,and peasants), ambushed and defeat the 30 000-strong invading Hungarian army led by King Charles Robert of Anjou. Yet there is no further reference in Stoker’s notes to Vlad the Impaler.

And Dracula’s Castle? Is it based on Bran Castle?

To start with, the novel Dracula was originally set in Styria, Austria.

Bram Stoker gives a general, sketchy description of Dracula’s castle that could easily fit any Gothic castle. It could fit Bran Castle too, location-wise. As for the countless rooms – yes, it does feel like a labyrinth inside Bran, but Bran has more doors, windows, and balconies than Stoker describes below:

“The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops… when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit.

Bram Stoker, Dracula, Chapter II
Medieval Bran Castle, a pearl atop a mountain cliff
Medieval Bran Castle, a pearl atop a mountain cliff

This is how Queen Marie of Romania described Bran Castle around 1930’s:

“Bran,’ the queen remembered, ‘meant a new field of work, the call to life of a new dream about beauty. With the help of a trustworthy, aged architect, but as spirited as me, I began to bring to life the dead walls, to give a soul to this old fortress that had never really lived. I awoke her from a long slumber, I turned a blind house into a home with many eyes open towards the world. Asleep, forgotten, lonely as she was, she proved herself to be no less than what was expected of her, allowing us to turn her into a peaceful and pleasant home.”

Queen Marie of Romania on Bran Castle

Inside Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania:

I feel that I should also mention Stoker placing his Dracula castle in Bukovina: “At three to-morrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me.”

Bukovina is a historical region located at the top north of Romania.
Bran Castle is 15 km from Borgo Pass (Bran Pass), but in the province of Țara Bârsei (Burzenland in German or Barcaság in Hungarian), approximately 400 km south of Bukovina.

But perhaps to Bram Stoker the castle’s exact location didn’t even matter, what mattered was the local color he painted around it, the dark grays, like rising shadows, the past’s shadows more exactly, reflected in people’s faith, fears and believes.

We are in Transylvania; and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things.

Dracula, in Bram Stoker Dracula (Chapter II)

And also the mention (although off by a few weeks) of the Night of Saint George, 22nd / 23rd of April when it is believed that the flames of the treasures hidden underground ahead of the Ottoman invasions of Wallachia (especially eastward, at Brăila) show themselves.

I asked him of some of the strange things of the preceding night, as, for instance, why the coachman went to the places where he had seen the blue flames. He then explained to me that it was commonly believed that on a certain night of the year—last night, in fact, when all evil spirits are supposed to have unchecked sway—a blue flame is seen over any place where treasure has been concealed. “That treasure has been hidden,” he went on, “in the region through which you came last night, there can be but little doubt; for it was the ground fought over for centuries by the Wallachian, the Saxon, and the Turk. Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in all this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders.

Bram Stoker Dracula (Chapter II)

It is known that Stoker took meticulous notes, and kept all of them.

If he would have used the historical character Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracula, as his source of inspiration I believe that he would have researched it further, made extra notes involving the many stories told about Vlad the Impaler, and even include some of them in his novel. Yet his novel does not include any further references to Vlad Dracula’s personal, tumultuous history, nor does Bram Stoker refers to his character Dracula as Vlad or the Impaler.

Furthermore, it is my humble opinion that it is unlikely that Bram Stoker fashioned his character Dracula after Vlad the Impaler’s persona. Stoker’s Notes show no proof that, while researching or writing his novel, he even came across a portrait or a description of Voivode Vlad the Impler.

Yet, much like the historical immortality of Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracula, Stoker’s character stood the test of time, and although it does not scare anymore, it can still stir heated debates. And while Vlad the Impaler remained a national and historical hero, Bram Stoker’s Dracula rose to the standard of a modern myth.

Perhaps the connection between Bram Stoker’s Cont Dracula and the historical character of Vlad the Impaler sipped into many reader’s minds due to Ford Coppola’s 1992 production of Dracula (when Dracula is portrayed as Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracula).
OR the 1953 Turkish production of the same novel, Drakula İstanbulda (Dracula in Istanbul) – based on the 1928 loose translation into Turkish of Stoker’s Dracula, Kazıklı Voyvoda (Impaler Voivode) by Ali Riza Seyfi; here, the Count’s ancestor is Vlad the Impaler.
OR Gary Shore’s directorial debut Dracula Untold
OR the work of some 20th century scholars (McNally and Florescu, and other editors before them) who interpreted Bram Stoker’s Notes forcefully believing that he did, in fact, based his Count Dracula character on Vlad the Impaler.

Sources:

Christopher Frayling, Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula, 1991
Robert Eighteen-Bisang, Elizabeth Miller, Bram Stoker Notes on Dracula, 2008
Neagu Djuvara, De la Vlad Tepes la Dracula Vampirul, 2003
Nicolae Stoicescu, Vlad Tepes, 1976
Bram Stoker, Dracula, 2003
William Wilkinson, An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia

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Bran Castle, Time Tunnel Explained, All You Need to Know

Bran Castle, Time Tunnel Explained, All You Need to Know

Bran Castle, Romania, inaugurated an unique Time Tunnel, a museum that comes to life, but unless you’re obsessed with the history of Romania it will help to know beforehand what is each exhibit’s connection with Bran Castle. So here’s all you need to know before visiting the Time Tunnel at Bran – or a virtual one.

About the entrance in the Time Tunnel at Bran Castle

Know that when the medieval Bran Castle was built (first as a wooden fortress erected by the Teutonic Knights around 1220, then as a stone castle built by the hands of the Saxons living in Brașov, and finished by 1388) it had a seven meters deep water reservoir dug into the castle’s courtyard.
It was during the 17th century when the reservoir became a 59 meters deep well dug into the mountain rock. The travelers who stopped at Bran Castle often mentioned the distinctive taste of the water from the castle’s inner well.
In 1937 Bran Castle received a new well and the old well was repurposed and turned into an elevator shaft. This elevator (holding three people) and a following 40 meters winding, horizontal gallery allowed Queen Marie of Romania access to the Royal Gardens located at the bottom of the rock on which Bran Castle rises.

Today, the vertical and the horizontal galleries form the Time Tunnel of Bran Castle.

What to see in the Vertical Gallery of the Bran Castle’s Time Tunnel (yes, from the glass elevator)

A modern, smart, glass elevator (with emergency exit, earthquake and gas sensors and all) named Stone takes nearly one minute to go down a 31 meters modernized, reinforced shaft. This is the longest approved distance between two elevator stops.

Bran, Time Tunnel, Original Elevator Shaft Tiles, Historical Monument, image courtesy Elmas, Brasov, creator of Stone Elevator

Know that during the first eight meters of this trip descending you can see the original rock tiles still covering the walls of the elevator shaft, the ones used during 1937 when the elevator was designed by architect Karel Liman for Queen’s Marie of Romania. This section of the elevator shaft was even declared a historical monument.

You can catch a glimpse of the process of creation, construction and installation of the Stone Elevator inside Bran Castle’s Time Tunnel on Youtube here. Stone Elevator is the 100% bespoke brainchild Elmas Factory from Brașov, Romania.

Know that, while in the elevator, you will also catch glimpses of:

  • Elegant Ghosts strolling around the castle’s dark corridors,
  • A Dragon breathing fire,
  • Ielele, supernatural maidens dancing and singing under the moonlight,
  • And, if you are lucky, even a Cloud of Bats coming at ya’!

Great company for the nearly 60 seconds you get to spend in the glass elevator, isn’t it?

But why this selection from the Romanian folklore? I am a writer, a reader, and a dreamer, so here’s my take on it.

"If you look too much into the past, the future might fail to find you." Patricia Furstenberg - ghosts in the Time Tunnel at Bran Castle

Ghosts. We were lucky to visit Bran Castle many times, and I always enjoyed its calm and cozy atmosphere, the wood embracing its walls and creaking underfoot. Yet it appears that there is quite an amount of paranormal activity happening here, as its Museographer mentions in an interview for a Romanian magazine.

“If you look too much into the past, the future might fail to find you.”

Fire breathing dragon Time Tunnel Bran

Dragons breathing fire (balaur in Romanian) populate Romanian folklore and folktales. Sometimes a dragon would pray upon a maiden, and a brave lad must come to her rescue. Other times a dragon would dwell inside a well… Word goes, if you pay attention to the stories that go around the fire, that when two dragons fight, the weather gets as angry as a bear. And then there are those dragons too, called zmei in Romanian, that are kept hidden in caves underground by their weather-bending masters, the wizards Solomonari.

“A dragon’s breath,
At midnight hour,
A secret locked
Deep in the cellar.
For those who dare.”

Ielele are most feared feminine creatures from Romanian mythology, “Mistresses of breeze, Ladies of the earth and mist.” They are described as fairies (zâne in Romanian), with great seductive powers over men and with magic skills – not to be confused with Sânzienele, the protectors of nature. Ielele would join hands and dance in a circle, hora, in lonely places such as dark forests or deserted plains. And under their feet the grass turns to ash. Ielele are similar to nymphs, naiads, dryads of Greek mythology, and Samodivas of Bulgarian folklore.

“Blessed, alluring IELELE,
Mistresses of breeze,
Queens of earth and mist:
Through the air you rise,
On the grass you slide,
And on waves you glide.”

Bats Time Tunnel Bran

Bats are probably the easiest to associate with Bran Castle, since Bram Stoker used a similar fortress as the setting for his Count Dracula’s lair in his renowned gothic novel (more on this in my next blog post).
From Paleolithic times men drew bison, deer, or horses on cave walls and then stroke them with their weapons in a warrior ritual, convinced that it will help them capture the real animals. Primitive man saw these sketched animals as ‘second bodies’ of the real ones, the ones made from flesh and blood.
From here humankind moved to ancient funeral rites filled with animal symbols, then one more large step was all it took and we have the duality, the image of body & soul, with the soul envisaged as a cloud, a butterfly, a mouse, a dog, a rooster, a bat… or a wolf – and I’m thinking here of the Dacians’ belief that they were daoi, wolfs (in spirit).
A bat. Why a bat at Bran?
With its spiraling, erratic flight like a constant struggle, its nocturnal lifestyle, never quite succeeding in leaving that dark place where it appears to be trapped… Nor bird, nor animal, associated with murkiness and witchcraft and shrouded in a dark cloak, the bat came to symbolize the souls of those often departed from this world as a result of a violent death, and returned – between midnight and the cock’s crow – to demand justice. Or so the folk belief goes.

From bats at Bran Castle to vampires?

The shortest link would be bats -> vampire bats -> vampires -> Bram Stoker’s Darcula -> Vlad Dracula -> Vlad the Impaler -> Bran Castle.

But what if there is a better connection between bats and vampires?

Know that Romanians don’t traditionally believe in vampires, we have strigoii, souls that can rise from the grave. The belief in vampires is encountered in Serbo-Croatian culture.

Then something happened during the 18th century in eastern-Europe and the fear of vampirism sky-rocketed. And linguists became interested in this prickly word, vampire.

18th century antiquary and clergy Samuel Pegge ingeniously derived the word vampire
from the French avant- père, ancestor. My Oxford English Dictionary mentions French, Hungarian (vampir), and Turkish (uber, witch) origins for vampire.

Let’s return to the Serbo-Croatian culture where vampire is vampir/вампир (Bosnian), vampir (Croatian), upír (Czech and Slovak) with its proposed proto-Slavic root ǫpyrь, ǫpirь, reading opyr. Opyr comes from a word meaning bat and the etymological sense of opir/opyr is “to fly, glide, float in the air like vapor.”

So now, from a linguistic point of view, it makes sense to connect bats with vampires, isn’t it?

While researching for his upcoming novel Bram Stoker indeed read a book written by William Wilkinson, former English diplomat who had been stationed in Bucharest, a book that introduced Stoker to Voivode Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. And the rest was Stoker’s imagination. (More on this in my next blog post).

And with this, the Time Tunnel Stone elevator should have safely reached ground floor – level with the park found at the bottom of the rock on which Bran Castle rises.

What to see in the Horizontal Gallery of the Bran Castle’s Time Tunnel

Know that the first six meters are the original stone of the fortress’ ancient tunnel.

Next, a multimedia tunnel presents key images that create a timeline of Bran Castle. Here’s what you will see:

1211, the Teutonic Knights arrive in Burzenland, Țara Bârsei, Transylvania

Teutonic Knight cloak chain headgear Bran Castle

The Teutonic Knights arrived to Țara Bârsei, Burzenland, invited by King Andrew II of Hungary to defend the Southeastern border of Transylvania (then the eastern-most land conquered by the Hungarian Empire) against the Cumans and the Pechenegs. The King even gifted the Teutonic Knights the land where they soon build a wooden fortress, soon to be known as Bran Castle. The Teutonic Knights received the right to establish markets and administer justice, and were free from taxes and tolls although the king retained his right to mint currency and claim all gold and silver deposits that would be uncovered (knowing well that these mountains were rich in minerals).

1407, Mircea the Elder, Prince of Wallachia, receives Bran Castle as a fief

Mircea the Elder, Time Tunnel Bran CAstle

King Sigismund of Luxembourg offers Bran Castle to his ally, Prince Mircea the Elder of Wallachia, as fief, “in return for loyalty”. This way Sigismund recognized the prominent role that the ruler of Wallachia held in the general effort of blocking the Ottoman’s advance in the Balkans.

Mircea the Elder granted the merchants of Brasov (located further up from Bran) commercial privileges, “through the boroughs from Wallachia and on the road from Brasov through the Bran pass up to Braila.”

Mircea the Elder was Vlad the Impaler’s paternal grandfather.

Bran, located in south-eastern Transylvania, was a significant possession for it controlled the Hungarian – Wallachian trade route. There were only three routes connecting Transylvania to Wallachia during medieval times, and Bran Pass was one of them.

The aftermath of a battle, flames engulfing the trees – Bran Castle has seen quite a few wars

The Time Tunnel, Bran Castle, its many battles, wars

1. Battles against the Ottoman Empire held near Bran Castle

For nearly two centuries the Hungarian and Ottoman Empires were at war, and Transylvania and Wallachia were caught in the middle.

Turks first plundered Transylvania in 1400. More attacks followed, and in 1421 the town of Brașov was partially destroyed by the Turks under Sultan Murad II, although its people could take refuge in Brassovia fortress, atop Mountain Tâmpa overlooking Brașov.

The Turks attacked again in 1441 but were defeated near Bran by John Hunyadi, Transylvania’s Voivode around that time. This was not the only battle that Hunyadi fought against the Ottomans on Transylvanian land.

In 1541 Transylvania became an autonomous principality under Turkish suzerainty.

2. Why Vlad the Impaler passed with his troops past Bran in 1460 and attacked Brașov?

Why Vlad the Impaler passed with his troops past Bran in 1460 and attacked Brașov?

Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes, Vlad III) protected Bran Pass and the city of Brașov against Turkish attacks during his first reign.

In 1458 Matthias Corvinus became King of Hungary and focused solely on ransoming the Holy Crown of Hungary from Emperor Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor (who had the crown, wishing to gain control over Hungary). At the same time in Transylvania, the Saxons of Brasov and Sibiu (among other towns) supported Emperor Frederick III who was German, and not the Hungarian Corvinus.

Around this time Pope Pius II planned a three year anti-Ottoman crusade without receiving much support from any of the Christian crowned heads of Europe – except for Vlad the Impaler.

Back in In Wallachia (who was bound by peace treaties to pay tribute to the Turks, and was also a Hungarian vassal) Vlad the Impaler was in the process of straightening his country’s economy and putting together an army of mercenaries to face any Turkish attacks. Vlad knew he could not count on Corvinus’ help, and he had just refused to pay the yearly tribute to the Ottomans. With the Hungarian currency weakening, Vlad decided to narrow the commercial privileges the Saxon merchants of Transylvania held in Wallachia.

Because of this, the Saxons of Brașov backed Dan III (from the opposing clan of Dănești – Vlad the Impaler belonged to the Drăculești clan) who also wished to rule Wallachia.

To sum it up… Vlad the Impaler was willing to join the Christian crusade against the Ottomans at a time when his biggest ally, Corvinus, had backed out. Vlad was building up Wallachia’s economy and independence, and was about to face an Ottoman attack by himself; a pretender to the throne of his country suddenly showed up, backed by German villagers from Brasov, a city Wallachia had commercial ties with and that Vlad had protected against the Turks many times before.

So in the summer of 1460 Vlad the Impaler led his troops through Bran Pass and attacked Brașov, getting rid of Dan III, the boyars supporting him and punishing all those who stood against him and Wallachia.

Then a peace treaty was signed with the cities of Brașov and Hermannstadt (Sibiu) and the Burzenland, backed by Matthias Corvinus. Among others, these cities promised to help Vlad the Impaler with 4 000 soldiers in case of a Turkish attack, and Vlad promised to withstand any Turkish attack that would come their way.

3. Over the centuries, Bran Castle saw more battles

A revolt of the Serfs from the villages nearby in 1514; a Turkish attack headed by Mehmed Beg in 1530; an attempt attack against Brasov in 1600 by Nicolae Patrascu, Voivode of Wallachia; the explosion on the powder mill; another riot in July 1785; the Revolution of 1848 and another local riot; the Russo-Turkish war of 1877.

John Hunyadi and the Legend of the Crow

John Hunyadi and the legend of the crow

Legend goes that a princely ring was given to the mother of new-born John Hunyadi by none other than Sigismund of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor and, among others, King of Hungary. The gift was meant to help the boy prove his royal descent at a later stage. A raven stole the ring, tells the legend, yet young John killed the bird with an arrow and recovered the precious artifact.

This legend explains the origins of Hunyadi / Corvinus House coat of arms, a mysterious raven (corvus in Latin) with a ring in its beak.

Yet this legend actually dampens John Hunyadi’s incredible rise to military power.

Wait. There is another explanation for Hunyadi’s coat of arms. Don’t you just love history? 🙂

John Hunyadi’s paternal grandfather was a Wallachian named Serb. Serb had Voicu, John’s father, and two other sons, all of them serving the King Sigismund of Luxembourg. Yet Serb still owned land in Wallachia, probably gifted by the Wallachian Voivode for excellent service: the village of Corbi (Ravens) at the foot of Fagaraș Mountains.

1596 Mihai Viteazul, Michael the Brave, Prince over Wallachia

Mihai Viteazul, Michael the Brave, Prince over Wallachia, painting by Misu Popp

He was Prince of Wallachia (as Michael II, 1593–1601), Prince of Moldavia (1600) and de facto ruler of Transylvania (1599–1600). His reign marked the first time all principalities inhabited by Romanians were under the same ruler.

Michael the Brave and his wife, Lady Stanca, stayed at Bran Castle in December 1596 according to the writings of Dominicus Rosenauer, administrator of Bran at that time. The Wallachian Prince went further to the city of Alba Iulia while his wife remained at Bran awaiting his return.

1920 Queen Marie of Romania

Queen Marie of Romania, who reconditioned and loved Bran Castle so much

On December 1st 1920 the citizens of Brasov gifted the castle to Queen Maria of Romania, “the great queen who (…) spreads her blessing everywhere she walks, thus wining, with an irresistible momentum, the hearts of the entire country’s population”. The Queen also used Peles Castle as a summer residence.

The Queen reconditioned and refurbished the castle, but still maintaining its original structure.

“Bran,’ the queen remembered, ‘meant a new field of work, the call to life of a new dream about beauty. With the help of a trustworthy, aged architect, but as spirited as me, I began to bring to life the dead walls, to give a soul to this old fortress that had never really lived. I awoke her from a long slumber, I turned a blind house into a home with many eyes open towards the world. Asleep, forgotten, lonely as she was, she proved herself to be no less than what was expected of her, allowing us to turn her into a peaceful and pleasant home.”

Queen Marie of Romania on Bran Castle

1938 Princess Ileana of Romania

After the death of Queen Marie Bran Castle entered in possession of Princess Ileana, married to Archduke Anton of Austria, who looked after the castle further – until 1948 when the communism regime took over and the Royal Family was exiled from Romania.

In 1961, Ileana entered the Orthodox Monastery of Our Lady of All Protection in Bussy-en-Othe, France. On her tonsuring as a monastic in 1967 Sister Ileana was given the name Mother Alexandra.

The great variety of villagers who lived on Bran estates

One of the last multimedia images in the Time Tunnel at Bran Castle depicts the great variety of villagers that lived and still live in the Bran area: Romanians, Saxons, Hungarians, Jews, Gypsies.

And lastly in the multimedia tunnel:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula in a somehow modern version

WHY is a picture of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in Bran Castle’s Time Tunnel and IF Bram Stoker really based his Gothic anti-hero on the Wallacian Voivode Vlad Dracula (Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III) will make the subject of my next blog post.

You can take a virtual tour of the Bran Castle’s Time Tunnel in this YouTube video (until my video will become available).