Dracula Territory

Thursday 2 to Friday 4 June 2012

After we left Sighisoara, we drove through beautiful rich country, passing village after village of colourful houses each backing onto a small farm holding.

Our first stop was Brasov, to see the Black Church, a German, Lutheran, Gothic style church which has it name after a fire blackened it’s bell tower.  The church stands enormously tall, making us little people feel overwhelmed.  It is filled with oddments that have survived other churches such as beautiful pews decorated with various guild’s markings.  The church also owns a collection of Anatolyan (Turkish) floor rugs, strange mixture to see hanging on the walls of a Lutheran Church.

We found Rope Street, one of Europe’s narrowest street.  I would have called it a lane, but then there would be no claim to fame.

The Black Tower, possibly also blackened by fire, stands outside the city walls and gives a great view over the lovely tiled rooftops.  From here we could make out some of the guild towers, a feature of the German inspired medieval towns.  A little stream outside the wall represented a moat.

But the highlight this Saturday was a family day in the city square.  Children of all sizes had gathered in groups of various national dress to sing and dance for their adoring parents.  It was great fun to enjoy a Romanian fruit juice and watch the performances.

From Brasov we drove into the Bran Gorge to see one of Romania’s famous Bran Castle.

The Gorge is one of the most important trans-Carpathian passages on the trade route between east and west and became an important military post, particularly for the kingdoms to the west.

In the last two centuries it had been home to the Romanian Royal family, Carol I, Ferdinand and Carol II, and it was richly decorated in the baroque style of the late 19th and early 20th century by the consorts.

However Bran Castle’s claim to fame is as the castle of Dracula as portrayed in Bram Stocker’s novel of the 19th century.  It is likely that Prince Vlad III or Vlad the Impaler made only fleeting visits to the castle during his reign and his reputation of torture is valid.  But Vlad should also be remembered as a kind of Robin Hood, looking after his people and committing terrible pain and suffering, most often in the form of impalement, on his enemies the Ottoman’s.

But who wants to ruin a good story with the truth?