A distinguished and slightly bored gentleman, with short white hair and heavy rimmed glasses stood in the crowd waiting in the arrivals terminal at Henri Coanda International Airport in Otopeni. Speaking perfect English with a Bela Lugosi twang, Nicolae Paduraru, former chair of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (TSD), smiled when he caught sight of his American guests who had paid for a Dracula tour in Romania: “Welcome to Bucharest! There’s no need to worry right now; however, tomorrow we’re going up into Transylvania”.
Prince vs. Vampire. A match made in Transylvania
Romania is best known to the world as Dracula’s country. But go there and ask about Dracula and you’ll be puzzled. The Count remained until very recently unknown in his own homeland. Romanian communists banned all vampire fiction until 1990. Even nowadays Romanians have a schizophrenic attitude towards Dracula. They are tempted to transform Dracula into a tourism agent to cash in Western money, but at the same time they’re afraid they may be bartering away their history.
Romania’s problem is that Dracula lived for real. He was neither a vampire, nor a count and never reigned in Transylvania. The stories about Vlad III Dracula, a 15th century warlord prince of Wallachia, a small Romanian principality, were horror best sellers long before Bram Stoker’s famous novel.
Dracula Park and Romania’s schizophrenic dilemma
Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola is the most famous Dracula film in history. About the time Coppola’s movie appeared in 1992, Romanians were discovering they could market the fictional Dracula. The government planned to build a Dracula Park hoping to attract a million visitors per year. The project met a huge opposition and its supporters were forced to step back. Dracula Park: the essence of Romanian’s mixed feelings (opportunism and resentment) towards Dracula
This book also explores other interesting issues for any Dracula fan:
- Where is Transylvania and how did it become the land of vampires?
- Why Romanian communists banned Dracula as representative of the “decadent” West?
- How was Vlad Tepes myth built after 19th century
- Behind the scenes of the Dracula Park odyssey
- •Dracula’s three castles in Romania
- •What are the links between Stoker’s Dracula and the Eastern European roots of the vampire myths?
What are the must-see places if you visit Romania in search of Dracula?
Searching for Dracula in Romania is a very informative, brilliantly written work which will definitely be liked by those who’re interested in vampires, Dracula in particular and Romania. Everything’s described exactly, very knowledgeably and thoroughly. I can tell that also as a member of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, knowing personally some of the people mentioned in the book and regularly visiting the “Dracula-places” in Romania. It is the best book for those who would like to know the truth about Dracula, not just “rubber stamps” or movie stereotypes. I must say that in “Searching for Dracula in Romania ”, one of the main tasks of the TSD, also reflected in the text is being done perfectly – “to inform and educate”, only in this case we can speak not about the tourists (perhaps about future tourists, anyway, as I bet that some of the readers will want to visit Romania), but about everybody who’s in search of Dracula. Strongly recommended!