Tracking Down Dracula at Snagov Monastery

interior of Snagov Monastery

Few visitors to Romania come to Snagov Monastery. Fewer still have ever heard of it, in spite of its connection to the life (actually the death) of Count Dracula, the country’s most famous native. Technically,  as a fictional character – and a vampire, Dracula didn’t live OR die. But his real-life counterpart, Vlad Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler), did end up at Snagov, maybe.  Vlad the Impaler followed a ... Read Full Article

Visiting Romania’s Maramureș County

Playful suggestion of the underlying themes of Maramureș County

Many Romanians vacation in Maramureș, a county in Romania north of Transylviania and south of the Ukrainian border, for the same reasons foreigners do. They are curious to see life as it existed centuries ago. Maramureș is like Pennsylvania Dutch country in the US:  horse-drawn carriages, hand-embroidered clothing, rural crafts, and lifestyles based on agriculture. The crafts are best ... Read Full Article

Poenari Castle and the Myth of Dracula

Poenari Castle as seen from the road below

To visit the real Dracula’s real castle in Romania, you have to know which castle to visit. Shall it be Bran Castle of Transylvania, beloved by tourists and the country’s tourism board, or Poenari Castle of Wallachia, the historically valid but little-known alternative? Those who have read Bram Stoker’s novel about the world’s most famous vampire are often curious about what inspired the Irish ... Read Full Article

A Very Merry Romanian Cemetery

some grave markers describe a happy home life at the Romanian cemetery

Death is no laughing matter in most parts of the world. But things are different in Săpânța, Romania, a small village in the northern part of the country close to the Ukrainian border. For the last 80 years, the Merry Romanian Cemetery has opted to make death a source of amusement, even joy, and a snapshot of local life. Visiting a Romanian Cemetery When I visited Săpânța last summer, the ... Read Full Article

An Historic Stroll through Dracula’s Home: Sighisoara, Romania

Sighisoara, ROmania

Sighisoara, in Romania's Transylvania region, is a picturesque city with winding streets and spiky towers, centered around a medieval fortified city center on top of a hill. It is well set-up for tourism, with comfortable hotels and dining places that are reasonably priced and strategically located for sightseeing. But it gets full of tourists in the hot months, so come slightly off-season ... Read Full Article

Sighisoara, Romania: a Tour of the Towers

clock tower in Sighisoara, Romania's

Sighisoara, in Romania's Transylvania region, has beautifully preserved medieval city walls, incorporating nine fascinating towers. Let's visit the towers in clockwise order, starting with the most famous. The clock tower is the citadel's main tower, and is intentionally located at what was considered a sacred compass point, the east. It's easy to see from a glance that its robust, chunky ... Read Full Article

Alba Iulia, Romania: Six Centuries of History in one Hilltop Fortress

The Third Gate at Alba Iulia

Alba Iulia, in Romania’s Transylvania region, has a hilltop citadel where many historical eras come to life, dominated by two massive cathedrals with over 600 tumultuous years dividing them. But far from being stuck in the past, the city is a trailblazer in terms of renovating its assets and achieving recognition on the international stage. In 2012 the municipality was named a European ... Read Full Article

A Visit to Deva Castle in Romania

he ruined state of the castle is due to an apparently accidental explosion during 1848-49

Deva, a city in Romania's Transylvania region, has an evocative hilltop fortress that pays testimony to many past conflicts - military and religious. Deva's extensive ruined castle perches atop a volcanic hill 370 meters high. That makes it easy to see from anywhere in town, especially with the large white letters that spell DEVA around the hill. Unusually for a Transylvanian city, the ... Read Full Article

Transylvania Incorporated: a Case Study in Globalization

Banca Transilvania

  Transylvania is a part of Romania that many tourists visit in search of unspoilt rural life, ancient traditions and centuries-old buildings. But if you explore it with a slightly different mindset, the region could serve as a case study in economic and cultural globalization. Keep your eyes peeled, and you’ll see pseudo-western T-shirts saying things like "Dream Princess," along ... Read Full Article

Prejmer, Romania: a Transylvanian Stronghold

Prejmer inside walls

  Prejmer is a village in Romania’s Transylvania region that has the biggest and most spectacular example of a medieval fortified church in the country. Inhabitants of this part of Transylvania used to be so frequently plagued by marauding invaders that they built thick walls, lined with chambers, around their churches, and would live in these walls in times of danger. They would keep a ... Read Full Article