In case you were wondering, I haven't turned into a vampire yet. The writing is going well. I'm at 85K as of this morning.
As promised, a post about vampires. Who is the most famous of the legends? Dracula (aka Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler). Made famous by Bram Stoker 1897 novel Dracula, Vlad Tepes has fascinated the minds around the globe and Hollywood only added to the fervor. Who can forget Bela Lugosi's hair-raising portrayal of the undead Transylvanian superstar?
With the resurgence of vampire frenzy in the last couple of years, thanks to the lovely Stephanie Meyer, Romania has once again attracted the world's attention. I can not tell you how many ghost hunting shows and other documentaries about the real Dracula on TV I've seen.
Here's a little factoid you may not have known: There are no Romanian legends that claim Vlad Tepes was a vampire. Yes he was a notorious ruler and shed blood without batting an eyelash, but Romanians don't consider him a vampire. Some think of him as a hero for defeating the Turkish armies. Oh, yeah, they believe in vampires, strigoi, just not in the Hollywood romanticized version.
When I traveled through Romania in 1998, shortly after I had read Dracula for the first time, I wanted to visit Vlad Tepes' castle. My relatives living in Transylvania took me here:
This is Bran Castle, where Dracula may have stayed during one of his conquering tours. It is a beautiful medieval castle and elicits the feeling of grandness reserved for the rulers of that time period. However this is not THE Dracula castle even though the kiosks lining the gate entrance will sell you just about anything with Dracula stamped on it. I discovered this a couple of years ago after doing some research and watching a couple of documentaries on the History Channel. Dracula lived in the province of Wallachia, south of Transylvania.
In Fall of 2009, I spent a week visiting my grandmother who happens to live 30 kilometers for the actual castle, Poenari Citadel.
Poenari was built in the 13th century and was abandoned. In the 14th century, Vlad commissioned it to be restored enslaving the rich families of the those who had crossed him in the past. They worked till their fine clothes turned to rags and either died or were executed. The citadel is located on the cliff of a small mountain along the pass through the Fagaras Mountains. To get to it you have to drive way off the beaten path then climb over 1400 steps to reach the entrance. It is has the mysterious creepy feeling to it that one would expect visiting Dracula's castle. The views from the towers and walls are spectacular. Because of it's remote location there are no tours and neither are there any tourist attractions near by- yet. Romanians love to capitalize their fame.
The castle now lies in ruins as it was abandoned after Turks attacked it while Vlad lived there. Legend says his first wife cast herself off one of the towers after seeing the fortress surrounds by the barbaric Ottoman soldiers, claiming she would rather the wild animals or the Arges river fish eat her broken flesh than be raped and killed by the Turks. Her body was never found.
This legend has inspired part of my vampire novel. What if she was the real vampire in the myth? Something to think about, eh?
Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about my heritage. Next week I'll be discussing the strigoi.