Transylvania is such a well-known place, that for many, it can seem almost mythical and not real, bringing to mind craggy mountains, castles, and superstitions. It is however a very real place located in central Romania, and is well-known for its beautiful Carpathian mountain ranges, as well as – and most popularly – for being the home of vampires. This distinction has developed and grown over time, so much so, that many modern day people, if they hear the name “Transylvania” will automatically associate the place with vampires. Perhaps even more famously, there is one specific vampire that everyone knows that is said to call this place home – Dracula. Today, anyone visiting Transylvania will find remnants of the places that gave this area of the world so much fame. One such place is Bran Castle – more commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” – which is considered the home of Dracula himself.
Is there any truth to the tales of vampires in Transylvania?
Well, that is a good question, and local folklore hints at a possible yes. One important thing to know – and support of this – is that the vampire – Transylvania connection did not originate with Dracula. In fact, there were a number of other writings about vampires living in Transylvania, including an 1849 story of vampires by Alexandre Dumas called Les Mille et un Fantomes, and Jules Vernes’ 1892 story entitled The Castle of the Carpathians which included vampires….books which came out well before Bram Stoker’s more famous novel Dracula which came out in 1897. So there is clearly some belief (and thus possible truth) in vampires that pre-date the famous Dracula stories.
Also, many Romanians and Transylvanians may be quick to say that no, they do not believe in vampires and their culture has no history of them and there is no truth behind tales of them in Transylvania. But this answer is too quick and should not be judged at face value – because if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that yes, these same people probably do in fact believe in vampires, and that yes, there are in fact tales of vampire beliefs in Transylvania. It’s just that they do not call them “vampires” – they call them the strigoi (souls rising from the dead) or pricolici (werewolves). Say one of these words to a Transylvanian and you’ll find recognition – and beliefs – that are strong and go far back in their folklore, legends, and beliefs.