Transylvania evokes medieval villages, Saxon castles and Dracula!!

Yes, it’s the mid 1200s and the world’s empires race to claim land. Present day Germany craves the land to its east; Transylvania. It’s magnificent, in the heart of Romania. Grand Carpathian Mountains shield a fertile valley on all sides. The peasants there are mild. And a call to Saxon craftsmen to colonise Transylvania rings loud. The promise by Teutonic Knights to guard this Christian mission heartens. So blacksmiths, carpenters, traders, farmers and their families head out.

For 600 hundred years Saxons make Transylvania home. They fortify their churches, castle their noblemen, mansion their merchants, frequent their opera and yoke their Romanian peasants.

We visit the town of Sibiu, former Hermannstadt. And Brasov, former Kronstadt. We see the efforts of Saxons everywhere.

We have a tiny, cosy apartment in Brasov. It feels like ‘Kronstadt’. From tall windows we watch winter hang outside. It’s wet and cold. Mist streams over the Carpathians to slouch here.

And in my mind’s eye …. I also pen a novel, a gothic novel. About the Count in Bran Castle a day’s ride away. Not a Saxon, but a Slav. The direct descendent of Vlad Teppes, the Impaler! His castle always sits in gloom. The Count charms but his peasants lurk. From a distance we see midnight storms and hear wolves howl. Scandals slip … sensual vampires slowly drain bodies of life’s force. Throats arch, incisors gleam and deep red trickles. This brings eternal life. And it’s never enough, so the Count starts to buy up land in London!

But TODAY, we find TRANSYLVANIA with NO SAXONS, and with NO DRACULA! How can this be?

The SAXONS flee back to Germany, Austria and to North America. In a ripple, a wave and a flood. First, Romania switches allegiance from Hitler to Stalin. Then a Communist Romania purges the bourgeois of their wealth. Lastly, the dictator Ceausescu permits the last Saxons to leave Romania for a bounty from the West Germany government.

And DRACULA too leaves Transylvania. We find his Bran Castle far too bright and far too breezy. It seems he does end up in London, but in print, and in Hollywood, in film. Here he remains, thankfully, in our wild imaginings.

It’s ghostly. “Now you see it, now you don’t.”

This is Hermannstadt, present day Sibiu.

Sibiu, today, with its protective Carparthian Mountains in the background.

And on the outskirts of Brasov a Fortified Church.

Brasov, former Kronstadt, still nestles in the foothills of the Carparthians.

These old Saxon towns have sturdy walls.

And within the city walls all manners of buildings stand secure. See those droopy eyed little attic windows staring at you.

Here the old Black Church stands in the center of Brasov.

And again those droopy eyed attic windows staring out over a bridge.

A beautifully renovated church …

… and a clock tower.

And the grand old Mansions that used to belong to the Saxon elite …

… which are now subdivided into studios. Our own cosy studio is on the third floor where we look down upon …

… our bikes braving the wet and icy weather outside.

We set out, despite the weather, to take in everything the Saxons have left behind.

In these environs it is impossible to shake the goings on at Bran Castle.

The next day we set off to discover Vlad, the Impaler, and his infamous descendant Dracula ….

… in his famous Bran Castle.

But what we see behind these Bran Castle walls is a little too bright and breezy.

Yes this classic gothic horror story is best left to our own wild imaginings.