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Transylvania Dracula

Dracula, the beautiful Carpathian Mountains and Prince Charles' fascination with Transylvania

The real Dracula Vlad Tepes (the Impaler), son of Vlad Dracul was born at Sighisoara in 1430 and received fine education in Nurnberg, where he studied Philosophy, Mathematics, the art of war and the skill of handling the sword.  He learnt how to speak Greek and German, Hebrew, Latin, and Turkish.  He spent his boyhood at the Court of Sultan Murat II, where he was being held hostage as surety for the Sultan not to attack Wallachia.
It is known that for his monetary emissions in Sighisoara, Vlad’s father used his emblem, the dragon.  Because the word ‘’dragon’’ was assimilated by the Romanians with the more common Latin word Dracon, ‘’dracul’’, given the fact that Romanian is a Latin-based language, they surnamed him Vlad Dracul, which means Devil.
In 1444, Vlad returned to Wallachia to be crowned ruler but after his defeat in the battle from Kossovopolje, he withdrew to Brasov, planning to attack Vladislav II who took his place on the throne of the country. But after the latter started to support the Sultan’s influence, whereas the German Guilds from Brasov resented any Turkish interference, Iancu de Huneoara, who was then Prince of Transylvania and Protector of Wallachia and Moldova, persuaded the king of Hungary to replace him with Dan cel Tanar (the Young).

Vlad Tepes started his second rule only later, in 1456, after the assassination of his cousin Dan the Young, a bloody event which, although he did not condone, contributed to Vlad Tepes conjuring up the image of a cruel and bloody leader.  However, his intransigence was more of a moral nature.  He was determined to instate the authority of law in the country, in order to inspire respect and fear, both to the neighbouring states and their diplomatic missions in Wallachia, and to his Romanian subjects who were considered enemies: robbers, beggars, cunning priests, treacherous noblemen, plotters.  Therefore, he applied the death penalty by impaling all wrongdoers, being consistent all his life about implementing the prerogatives he held as an autocrat ruler. 

Bran Castle was built in 1382 by the inhabitants and merchants of Brasov on top of a rocky peak in order to get the best surveillance point of the whole region, especially the pass between Transylvania and Wallachia, where important commercial routes met.

Bran Castle has always been associated with Dracula, because according to the legend, he used to go there very often. However, the association with Bram Stoker's Victorian novel vampire, is purely imaginary, although the Castle's towering strength, its narrow stone stairways, the quaint character of the rooms, and the cleverly authentic way it is furnished, do give an overwhelming impression that the legend may be real.

Historic and Economic Background The first Hungarian migratory tribes threatened to settle in Transylvania in early 10th century, and the Hungarian chronicles of the time preserved for posterity the dignified resistance of the Romanian rulers in Transylvania.
Despite its effort to withstand the Hungarian invasion, Transylvania was occupied in the 10th - 13th centuries. In order to consolidate its power in Transylvania, where the Romanians continued to be the vast majority ethnic element, Hungary resorted to the colonisation of Germans (Saxons) in the 12th-13th centuries in the frontier areas.

Brasov, (by its German name Kronstadt) was founded in the 13th century at the meeting point of very important commercial routes used by many craftsmen and merchants whose activity influenced the rapid development of Brasov. Despite Turk attacks, workshops, libraries, inns, public baths and Chapels were erected. The Black Church, a 14th century monument of Gothic, later Baroque architecture, can still be admired today, together with its fabulous collection of 119 Anatolian carpets and rugs, the largest in Europe of its kind, donated by German merchants in the 17th – 18th century, thankful to have survived their shopping trips into the barbaric lands to the south and east of the Carpathians.

Brasov and Sibiu (German name Hermannstadt) were strong commercial centres, where Craftsmen Guilds were trading textiles, tools, weaponry and jewels for cereals, cattle, carpets, silk and spices from the other Romanian principalities. A collection of medieval weaponry can be seen today in the Brukenthal Palace in Sibiu.

Sighisoara (German name Schassburg) is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe, part of the European Cultural Heritage.  Most of the fortification towers and walls still stand, along with the splendid clock-tower, the students’ stairs, the church on the hill and the house where Vlad Dracula was born.
All these old medieval towns were built as fortified bastions against Ottoman and Tartar invasions, protecting a thriving cultural life dominated by a Romanian ethnic element inside the walls. In Brasov, Humanist Johannes Honterus founded the first school in 1544 and Coressi set up the first printing press shortly after. Even the small villages had their fortified churches and the fortification walls can still be seen today.

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