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Snagov Monastery

36.2419° N, 116.8258° W

  • Situated on a small lake, 15 miles north of the Romanian capital, this peaceful monastery is supposedly the resting place of Vlad the Impaler, the fearsome figure renowned for inspiring the famous 1897 novel, ‘Dracula’. Vlad was known for his blood-thirsty methods of execution (the means of impalement were seen as particularly gruesome events even in the brutal 15th century) and were used as a nifty, yet slightly excessive forewarnings to ambitious invaders and potential assassins. Stories of his procedures even went as far to say that he drank the blood of his enemies, a key clue which links Vlad to the infamous blood-sucking vampire.

    After a 1933 excavation, historians now widely believe that the Prince of Wallachia was buried in a monastery in the Comana area of Romania, but this has not prevented locals from spreading the legend. But then, that’s what makes this such a brilliant spot to visit. A drive here is not for those that live by the book; it’s for dreamers and those with giant imaginations and you need only to believe to experience. After all, who really knows whether Vlad turned into a bat and flew off never to be seen again or not?

    The church itself sits on a small island in the middle of a lake but thankfully, the locals have built a small footbridge to save you from some very wet feet (or a long wait for a passing taxi boat). There’s a whole host of animals surrounding the little church, from friendly dogs who greet you at the bridge, to a field of ponies all biding for your attention. But despite these distractions, it is still the church that manages to draw your focus.

    You won’t regret finding adequate time and space to take a picture of the building from the outside as it really is a picture postcard, one that was once sadly threatened by commercialisation. In 2006, a ‘Disneyland-style’ theme park – rather predictably named ‘Dracula Park’ – was luckily scrapped by the Romanian government leaving the monastery in its wonderfully original state, something the locals and tourists alike can be thankful for.

    So, whether you’re a diehard Dracula devotee, history buff or simply a horror fan, this is a must do trip on your travel list. A collection of the finest fang-themed collectables won’t even compare to a visit to the chapel where Drăculea’s muse was finally laid to rest.

IMAGE CREDIT: fusion_of_horizons
September 25th 2015