THE REAL DRACULA
Romanians chosen to accomodate Dracula in Bran's Castle since its narrow corridors constitute a mysterious labyrinth of ghostly nooks and secret chambers easy to hide a "vampire".
In reality, Dracula did not even sleep a single night at the castle. Besides, Bran was not a castle under his jurisdiction as ruler of Valachia.
Vlad Tepes (The Impaler) was the son of Vlad Dracul (1436-1442; 1443-1447) and grandson of Mircea cel Batran (1386-1418). Vlad Dracul was dubbed a knight of the Dragon Order by the Hungarian king. All the members of the order had a dragon on their coat of arms, and that is what brought him the nickname of Dracul (the Devil). Vlad the Impaler used to sign himself Draculea or Draculya - the Devil's son - a name which was distorted into Dracula. Dracula's renown reached the West through the Saxons from the Transylvanian towns of Brasov and Sibiu, who often gave shelter to those who claimed the Wallachian (Romanian Country) throne.
In order to escape the peril of losing his throne, Vlad would punish the Saxons. Sibiu and the neighbouring area were pillaged and burnt down by Vlad, and many Saxons were impaled. The same happened to the Saxon merchants who came on business to Târgoviste. In fact, Vlad was called Tepes (the Impaler) only after his death (1476). Vlad was born in the town of Sighisoara. The house in which he was born is still standing. Vlad ruled Wallachia between 1456-1462 and in 1476. In 1462, having been defeated by the Turks, Vlad took refuge in Hungary. In 1476, with the help of the Hungarian king Matei Corvin and the Moldavian prince Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great), Vlad took over the Wallachian throne again for a month. A battle followed, during which Vlad was killed. His body was buried in the church of the Snagov Monastery, on an island near Bucharest. His body lies in front of the altar. In 1935, a richly dressed but beheaded corpse was exhumed at Snagov, a fate known to have overtaken Dracula, whose head was supposedly wrapped, perfumed and dispatched as a gift to the Turkish sultan.
They say that impaling was one of Dracula's favourite punishments, but he was not the only one who made use of it at the time. Other German and Spanish princes would do the same. He used the method for boyars, thieves and criminals, and those who conspired against him (among the latter, Saxon merchants from Brasov and Turks). Soon after coming to power Vlad began his reign of terror. He invited many of the noblemen and their families to a huge feast. Confronting them as traitors and conspirators in the death of his father and brother, he captured and impaled most of them. The younger and healthier ones were marched north from Tirgoviste to the ruins of his real castle at Poenari in the mountains above the Arges River, where they were forced to labor for months rebuilding the old castle. According to the reports, they labored until the clothes fell off their bodies, with few surviving the ordeal.
Horrified by these deeds, the Saxons printed books and pamphlets in which they told about Vlad's cruelty. These booklets also reached Germany and Western Europe, where Dracula became known as a bloody tyrant