5. Where legend and history meet… Vlad Tepes, Dracula

I always hesitate when I approach this subject. There has been many things said about the subject, different sites tell different stories and in fact, what is it about?

The title is not embellished.  In what concerns the story of Vlad Tepes, also called Dracula, the history truly meets the legend. Where the truth ends and where the legend begins? I guess finally that depends on what every one wants to believe as I cannot guarantee any of it.

So I will tell you, my dear traveler, a story. Still… not a bedtime story :).

It is said that he was born on a blessed land, Transilvania, in the beautiful city of Sighisoara, in 1431 and later he become the ruler of Valachia.

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His father, Vlad Dracul, was a knight of the Dragon Order, an east- European order that had as main purpose to stop the expand of the Ottoman Empire witch was a threat for all Europe at that time. The flag of the order showed a dragon (for ottomans) and a cross (for the Christianity). Vlad wore this symbol many times and it was also on his seal.

As a child, he was raised an hostage at the Ottoman court while his family was assassinated by the Turks. Probably this is why he raised a great hatred and as a ruler he became so punitive.

The nickname “Tepes”  (Impaler) was given to him due to his way of punishing the enemies, witch was a brutal and painful death. It is said he liked watching these executions and often he would organize feasts before those who died in tortures.

Though, Vlad was a highly respected ruler and great fighter. Despite his sadism he was just, people both feared and adulated him.

Although tourists know Vlad Dracula as a bloodthirsty character, in the Romanian memory he remains the ruler during who’s reign one could drink from the fountain of Targoviste with a golden cup and the cup would not be stolen. In fact historic sources confirm that the golden cup really existed until Vlad’s death.

There are not many information about Vlad’s death. There are some hypotheses… But then…I cannot tell you all the secrets. You must have one more reason to come and visit Romania so here it is.

Dracula really existed. Was he the bloodthirsty vampire that many think? Who knows, maybe if you come to Romania to follow his footsteps you will find out for yourself.

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4. Where Magic begins: Sanziana’s Night

A well known ancient believe is “Sanziana’s Night”. It is the night of summer fire, one of the most spectacular celebrations in Romania, where young men light fires, especially on mountaintops, dancing and leaping over the flames and other ancients customs that differs from one region to another.

This celebration is set on the 24th of June. Although they are associated to the Christian celebration of St Joan the Baptist’s birth, Sanziana’s night has its origin in an ancient sun worship cult. The name may be changed from goddess Diana (zeita Diana). It marks the beginning of summer, as on the 21st of June it is the summer solstice, when the day is the longest and the night is the shortest. It is the time when the two parallel worlds emerge and many magical things may happen.

Legend says that Sanzianas are beautiful fairies that live in the forests and on the fields and can be seen dancing in circle. According to tradition they fly with the wind, sing and dance, breed animals and heal the sick. They are good fairies but can do also bad if people don’t respect them.

One of the customs is that on the morning of Sanziana’s day, before the sun comes up, you would pick flowers of Lady’s Bedstraw, make a crown, and throw it over the roof. If the crown gets stuck on the roof you would have a long life. Also, as a young girl, if you would put a bouquet of Sanziana’s flowers under the pillow, in the nights before the celebration, you would dream the man you will marry.

There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding this special day.

24th of July is a good occasion to visit Romania, and to enjoy the celebration in a traditional village where you can find all there is to know about it…and even more, who knows.

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3.The time of boyars : The Maldar Manor

Take a trip back in time and spend quality time in a place of great beauty. The time of knights and ladies has past but you can relive it here: at the Maldar Manor. The estate, situated near Horezu has preserved intact all the architectural details of  kulas.

At their origin, more than three centuries ago, the kulas were fortified boyar residences and their purpose was to defend agains Turkish attacks.

The legend of Captain Maldăr

Every kula has its legend, and of all the legends from Măldăresti, none is more moving that that of Captain Maldar, the son of court paharnik (cup-bearer) Nan. Tudor Maldar was one of the captains of Mihai the Brave, and the legend tells that after his capture by the Tartars, he won the heart of the beautiful daughter of the Tartar chief, thereby regaining his freedom. The two lovers took refuge in a kula in Măldărești, today known as the Greceanu Kula.

Even if it is not the original site of these legendary events, our manor has been named after Captain Maldăr, in honour of that brave knight and his immortal love story.

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2. Following myth and legend: Curtea de Arges

Curtea de Arges is a place where truth and myth come together. If you want to follow the well-known legend of Dracula or discover less known but interesting Romanian stories, combined with the breath-taking road Transfagarasan, a trip to Curtea  de Arges is a  must!

You can get here very fast. There are only 150 km from Bucharest and a highway makes the road much easier. First mentioned in 1510, this town with great history (residence of many kings- the Dacian Dromichaites, Basarab I) reveals itself to the travelers that wish to know its mysteries.

In the center of the town you find the Princely Church, built in the 13th century. The gardens are beautiful, so is the church, built from brick and river stone in a style that makes it look unfinished. But this is the way many hoses in the region are built and you don’t find these constructions elsewhere in Romania. Inside it’s dark but once the eye gets used to the shadows you can see beautiful byzantine paintings. Among them a unique picture: The Virgin Mary pregnant. It is believed that the painter had a lot of courage. At that times it was forbidden to represent the Virgin being pregnant but if you look closely you can see what the artist intended: to make Her closer to the human kind.

Continue the journey and visit The Monastery Curtea de Arges. You must learn about one of the most beautiful and dramatic myth of Romanian folklore: the story of Manole the mason and his wife, Ana and how she died so that the Man could build his gift to God. Add to that particular beautiful architecture and you will not regret the trip here.

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1.Maramures Wooden Churches. Surdesti

A territory in Romania with strong and particular identity is Maramures. Geographically situated in the heart of Europe, this land has been wanted and disputed in its history by many.

In the whirlpool of times, Maramures has built a rich and powerful identity. It is the land of ancient customs, where people found a unique way to worship God by raising high churches that would touch the sky. The wooden churches of Maramures are exactly this form of religion, simple, humble, made of wood but strong and high, with towers reaching to the clouds.

One of these churches you can find in Surdesti. The Greece-catholic church of The Archangels was until recently the highest wooden church in Europe, with a tower of 54 meters and a total height of 72 meters. Built in the years 1721-1724 from oak, it is included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

The church is splendid and beautifully painted.

Inside the church it is peace. The paintings are simple and in light colors.  There are scenes of the Apocalypse intending to scare the believers that attended the ceremonies. This is a custom in Romania, to paint the insides of churches. When reading was not for everyone, simple people, peasants could “read” the word of God from the walls.

The stairway to heaven, that we find in many monasteries and churches, we find it here too. you can see people climbing the steps but not all will reach the Heavens, where, in a cloud, God and Jesus watch over all. The images are simple but authentic and will tell you many things about the Romanian people.

See some of these pictures below. Hope they will inspire you to visit this lands.

Originally GTAR

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What about being amazed?

Indeed! What about being amazed?

You have 100 great reasons to love Romania: beautiful landscapes, welcoming people, great food, surprising costumes, unique festivals and so on… We will take it one by one, it will be an amazing journey and I will be your private tour guide 🙂 .

My purpose is to make YOU fall in love with Romania and plan as soon as possible your holiday here. I promise it will be the most beautiful experience.

Yours truly,

Andreea GtaR

 

 

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