Vlad the Impaler didn’t die in bed, surrounded by his loved ones. As it befits a famous leader and warrior, he died on the battlefield. By the way, if you have seen the episode of Ghost Adventures in Romania, which I mentioned in this post, you are aware that the crew found the exact location where Vlad III was defeated and decapitated. To be honest, Lars and I didn’t visit it, but that was due to lack of time. The question arises now: where was our hero buried?
Local legend has it that Vlad III was laid to rest in Snagov Monastery.
Although the place looks really idyllic – it was even one of the favorite holiday retreats of the Ceaușescu’s! – this is NOT the location where Vlad III was buried… Yes, there is a tomb in the monastery with his name on it, but when scientists opened it in the 1930s, they found… nothing. The tomb was empty!
But… We actually followed in the footsteps of the crew of Ghost Adventures and visited Comana Monastery instead, which is likely to be Vlad the Impaler’s last resting place.
Why could this be the place where Vlad Tepes is buried instead? The first reason is actually very simple: it’s very close to the battlefield where his enemies killed him.
Moreover, there is a direct link between Vlad Tepes and the monastery: he founded and constructed it in 1461. However, the building you can visit right now is not the original one: that fell into ruins after the rule of Vlad III. This monastery, on the other hand, dates from the 16th century.
Further restorations took place in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Last but not least, in the 1970s, historians discovered a headless body on the grounds of the monastery, which they believe belongs to… Vlad Tepes!
Comana Monastery is only open on Thursdays and Fridays, during which you can visit it for the whole day. And even if you are not interested in its connection with Vlad the Impaler, this monastery is such a picturesque and peaceful place. By the way, the monks are very friendly, especially when you show interest in Vlad Tepes and can speak some Romanian (like Lars). Hence, during our visit, one of them pointed out to us the foundations of the original monastery. And he even gave us a beautiful booklet about its history and (connection with) Vlad the Impaler.
And now we answer the final question: what is the exact link between Vlad Tepes (the historical person) and Dracula (the fictional character)? Let’s have a look first at the origins of the name of Dracula itself.
Vlad was part of the Order of the Dragon, founded by the King of Hungary in 1408 to bestow on nobleman fighting to defend Christianity. The order’s symbol was a dragon with the word dracul meaning dragon or the devil in Romanian at the time. Vlad’s father was also a member of the order with the name Vlad Dracul, which meant his son required a slight variation – and so he become known as Vlad Dracula. Historical documents show that he would sign himself simply as Drakwlya. (Source: http://www.romanianfriend.com)
I think we can agree that the link between history and fiction is very clear in this case! And last but not least: was Vlad Tepes indeed the inspiration for Bram’s Stoker’s Dracula?
According to various sources, the author of the famous novel on Count Dracula and his castle read a book in the 1890s about Wallachia’s history in the Middle Ages. The book mentioned a Wallachian ruling prince known simply as Dracula renowned for his cruelty and daredevil reputation. Lacking concrete evidence, the idea that Vlad the Impaler aka Vlad Dracula, with his romanticised reputation and renowned cruelty, served as inspiration for Count Dracula is commonly accepted thanks to its Dracula name association. (Source: http://www.romanianfriend.com)
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our special series about Vlad the Impaler and the locations (in Romania) directly connected to him. I made a map where you can see all of them:
Some advice if you intend to visit these places! Do not underestimate the distances between all of these locations. Moreover, there are very few motorways in Romania and some of the roads can be in a poor condition! Lars and I drove hundreds of kilometers for this project and it took a lot of time – weeks, to be honest, especially because there is a lot more to visit. We recommend at least 10 days – 2 weeks.
We also made a video about this series.
Coming up on our website this week: extra episodes about locations (also in Romania) with an indirect connection to Vlad the Impaler! Afterward, we take you to the Czech Republic!