Following Dracula’s Footsteps

A good place to start is where we first meet Count Dracula, in Transylvania, Romania. Bram Stoker apparently named his character after a real-life Wallachian prince, Vlad III Dracula known as Vlad the Impaler, though scholars argue that Stoker knew little of his background. Regardless, Dracula is always associated with Transylvania and most of its people embrace their famous pseudo-resident. Check out Bran Castle in the city of Bran, touted as Vlad Dracula’s castle. Or travel to the “real” Dracula’s Castle in the Poienari Citadel in the Arges Valley. Stoker’s imagination aside, the country is filled with ancient history, myths, legends, and superstitions. Travelers to Romania are quick to point out that the country has much to offer, beautiful countryside, medieval architecture and storybook villages. Also, the Carpathian Mountains are great for hiking, biking and skiing.

Since Bram Stoker never actually visited Romania, some say that his inspiration for Dracula’s castle was derived from the New Slains Castle in Cruden Bay near Aberdeen, where Stoker used to holiday. Old Slains Castle was torn down by King James VI to punish its owner, the Earl of Errol for taking part in a revolt of Catholic nobles. New Slains was built by the earl in 1598. It doesn’t seem to be a big tourist attraction, none of the newer guidebooks mention it, but if you drive up the coast north from Aberdeen, you will arrive at Cruden Bay where the ruined castle should be easy to spot. Aberdeen has many other attractions including the Malt Whisky Trail and Cruden Bay has a particularly nice golf course.

Whitby is the spot where Dracula supposedly lands in England. Another place that Stoker used to holiday, the book was partly written there. Once an important 12th century port, today it’s a popular coastal resort town of about 14,000. Be sure to visit the abbey ruins where part of the story is set. There’s also a great museum dedicated to another famous resident, Captain James Cook, credited with discovering Hawaii.

Dracula’s ultimate destination is London and the “teeming millions,” but many of the London places mentioned in the novel are fictious. However, you can take a Dracula tour complete with medieval banquet of which one of the highlights is a visit to Highgate Cemetery. You can also visit the Lyceum Theatre where Bram Stoker worked and go by No. 18 Leonard Terrace in Chelsea, Stoker’s former residence. Besides, you might find a few hundred other things to do in London too!

Donna Casey

I work in Circulation as a senior library associate. I love mysteries, traveling, gardens and libraries. My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell and Harlan Coben, but I enjoy any well-plotted mystery.