Close on the heels of World Goth Day comes World Dracula Day. It might be sunny springtime where you live, but this is the week to ignore the singing birds and blooming flowers, and channel your dark side (for those of you who don’t already do that year round anyway). What better way to immerse yourself in all things Dracula than by visiting the places associated with the Count?
(Note: I won’t be including any sites that focus exclusively on Vlad Dracul/Vlad the Impaler. While he has his own blood-soaked history, his connection to Stoker’s Dracula, in my opinion at least, doesn’t go much further than the name.)
Bran Castle, Transylvania
The only castle in Transylvania that fits Stoker’s description, Bran Castle is widely considered to be “Dracula’s castle.” If the beautiful building and rich history aren’t enough for you, the castle regularly offers special exhibitions. Until November 2022, there’s an exhibition on the Making of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For general vampire entertainment there’s a “History of Dreads in Transylvania,” which includes the strigoi, among other myths and legends. If the onsite restaurant is open when you go, you can try the “Count’s Dessert” (chocolate cake with raspberry sauce, fresh fruit, and rose petal powder).
“Golden Crown” Hotel, Transylvania
After Stoker published Dracula, tourists started showing up in Transylvania. From the start they were looking to stay in the same hotel that Jonathan Harker spent a night in (The Golden Crown). The hotel didn’t exist, but some enterprising soul realized it would be a great idea to build it. The Coroana de Aur (“Golden Crown” in Romanian) hotel in Bistrita doesn’t have much in common with the inn Harker stayed at, but there is a Jonathan Harker Salon at the restaurant. You can also order authentic Mămăligă (polenta) like Harker ate. No word on whether they also offer stuffed aubergines.
Live actors and special effects tell the story of Dracula and how the town of Whitby relates to it. The “Experience” has been described as a story set in a haunted house, which is appropriate since the building it’s in is apparently centuries old and haunted. To explore the building’s ghost sightings and other paranormal activity, a Paranormal Night takes place the first Saturday of every month (no special effects here).
St. Mary’s Churchyard and Whitby Abbey, Whitby
The graveyard at St. Mary’s Church is the setting and inspiration for a number of scenes in Dracula. Try to see how many of the character’s names you can find on the gravestones (Stoker borrowed a few of them). On the way to the church, you can climb the 199 steps that a black dog (Dracula in another form) was seen running up in the book.
And while you’re there make sure to make the 100 metre (340 feet) trek from St. Mary’s to Whitby Abbey, another source of Stoker’s inspiration. Explore the ruins before checking out the on-site museum and shop. The Abbey hosts all kinds of Dracula-themed events (this year they’re trying to break the world record for the Largest Gathering of People Dressed Like Vampires), so check the schedule before you go.
Bram Stoker’s Grave, London
If you’re in London, you can go pay your respects at the final resting place of the man who brought the world Dracula. You do need to book ahead because the building is kept locked. If you can’t make it there in person, you can leave a virtual flower in his honour.
These are just a few of the Dracula-related places to visit, and I expect more will open as tourism eventually returns to normal. Do you have a favourite Dracula-themed place or event? Share in the comments…
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Aspasía S. Bissas