I used to tell people I lived in Cluj and they’d be like, “Huh?” Then I’d tell them it was in Romania and they’d scratch their head with their mouths hanging open. Then I’d say, “It’s in Transylvania” and they’d grin and slap me high-fives and go, “Sweet, vampires.” LOL
Well first of all, to dispel all rumors to the contrary, I’ve been living in Transylvania for a long while and I’ve yet to see even one vampire – not a baby one, not even a glittery one, nothing. Sadly, nobody drinks blood around here or anything, just Coca-Cola and fruit juice mostly.
So who is the fine fellow in the painting? Well he is the “real” Dracula aka Vlad The Impaler. He really was a real guy but most of what you (probably) think you know about him is wrong. So time for a little impromptu history lesson.
Vlad’s sort of “nickname” if you will really was Dracula but it has to do with the fact that his dad belonged to a super creepy Christian Freemasonic Illuminati cult deal called the “Order of the Dragon” and “Dracul” is Romanian for “the dragon”. Nowadays however it’s a cussword and no I’m not going to tell you how to use it so shutta you face!
The Dracula who was a vampire is from this book written by a drunken Irish guy who by the friggin’ way never once set foot in Romania in his entire life.
Fun digression anecdote time:
Most of the book Dracula (which please remember is complete fiction) was set in the town of Bistrita, which is a real town.
For a long, complicated reason I’m not going to get into here, I once had to spend the night in Bistrita and it was a last minute thing so I just walked around until I found the first hotel I could find.
That hotel was the “Golden Crown” Hotel, which is a real hotel but is named specifically for the hotel in the book (which again, is fiction). Ok, whatever. But the next morning when I woke up to eat breakfast, I noticed they have an entire menu you can order of the foods the protagonist of the book (Jonathan Harker) ate so you can be as super kewl as he was.
So are you paying attention? There’s a real hotel named after a hotel in a fake book wherein the fake hero eats a fictional breakfast that you can really order in the real hotel. Hopa!
So “Dracula” the vampire = totally fake.
Vlad The Impaler = real guy but named Dracula.
Also, even more confusing is that Vlad The Impaler (real guy) was an ethnic Romanian but Dracula the fictional vampire was a Szekeler, which is a kind of special Hungarian.
Oh and Vlad the Impaler (real guy) had a Hungarian wife.
Also, the fake book Dracula mostly isn’t set in Transylvania at all and the real Vlad The Impaler barely spent any time in Transylvania either. I have no idea why Transylvania is synonymous with vampires LOL must’ve been in movies or something that I slept through and forgot to take detailed, copious notes on (I’m not much of a movie watcher). Nonetheless, if you go anywhere around the world, including to remote sections of the Congo jungle, everyone you will meet “knows” that vampires come from Tranyslvania.
Another digression: Why the heck Transylvania is called “Transylvania” is another mystery since nobody who lives here (either Romanians OR Germans OR Hungarians call it that LOL).
Anyway, where we? Oh yeah. So a real guy named Vlad the Impaler once ruled over mostly what would be southern Romania today. And he spent most of his time wheeling and dealing in old skool European politics, aka murdering brothers and half-cousins and scheming to get on thrones and get back on thrones and all that sort of late medieval nonsense.
At the time, the two big superpowers in the region were the Turks and the Hungarians and so our boy Vlad was quite busy playing one off against another and variously pledging undying loyalty and then turning around and stabbing them in the back and treacherously raising armies to conquer their territory and then breaking down and crying and swearing he’d never break his promises again and so on and so forth.
So why does everyone know his name and not say, the other 500 princes of Romania and other local potentates? Well two reasons. Despite what your mother may have told you, Vlad “the Impaler” didn’t get his nickname because he liked to aggressively eat little squares of cheese with toothpicks. No way. Whenever anyone royally pissed him off (and he was a short-tempered fellow, our boy Vlad) he would bend you over and jam a long wooden stake up your ass that would come out your mouth. He’d then leave you there to wriggle around for a few days as a “warning” to anyone else who even thought about making fun of his mustache.
But what he really did to get remembered forever and ever as one bad motherf–ker was he got into a dispute with the Germans who ran a little town called Brasov. Anyone who knows modern history knows it’s usually a pretty damn bad idea to piss off the Germans.
The way the story goes is these meddlesome krauts were giving Vlad a real headache so he decided to invite them to a huge feast in Brasov and served them a real nice dinner, probably with lots of sausages and whatnot. After the dinner was over, Vlad cackled and twirled his mustache and gave the Germans the old “what for” and had all the rich fancy merchants impaled on sticks outside the town walls.
Well needless to say, the relatives in Brasov were none too happy about seeing Fritz and Helmut and the gang come to such an inglorious end and wrote long, anguished letters in run-on sentences and compound nouns to their relatives back in the “old country”. As this was right around the time another German had just invented the printing press, the story got printed up in a series of pamphlets and passed around. It was, in effect, the first horror story of the modern printing age and so it got copied (and embellished) into different languages and passed around from one side of Europe to another until the whole world knew that in Romania lived one fearsomely diabolical dude.
Interestingly enough, to Romanians (even today), Vlad is a national hero up there sort of where George Washington is for Americans or Ned Kelly is for Australians. In no way is he considered an “evil” or “bad” guy. After all, he went around kicking everyone’s ass who tried to keep Romanians down.
The famous Dracula book essentially mixed up a few items about Vlad and then added the concept of vampires, which really do exist in Romania. Every year there’s always some news story from some remote village about the “superstitious peasants” who dug up uncle Bogdan’s corpse because he was a vampire and the Romanian gov’t and media always try to downplay it because they find it embarrassing.
Personally, I’ve been to some pretty spooky places in Romania so I’m keeping my mind open about this kind of thing, to be perfectly honest with you.
Romanian vampires don’t really prowl around doing all the blood drinking though. That is based on the super creepy TRUE story of Elizabeth Bathory, who was Hungarian. I know, I know, it’s confusing!
Not so fun fact – There are some people out there who just find the whole blood drinking vampire thing super “cool” and get quite obsessed with it and sometimes to the point where they save up their money and come TO Romania in search of vampire adventures and whatnot. They engage in some pretty creepy stuff sometimes (especially on Halloween, which has nothing to do with Romania OR vampires but WTF don’t ask me LOL) and you might run into one of them if you ever come here. I know I have and I pray I never do again.
Final note: the most famous actor to play Dracula was a guy named Bela Lugosi, who was an ethnic Hungarian but was born in (what is now) Romania.