Transylvania is inevitably linked to a dreadful name: Dracula. This fictional character was inspired by Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, a real historical figure. This Romanian Prince who ruled during the 15th century was made famous thanks to the lively imagination of Bram Stoker in his masterpiece, Dracula.
Forget about blood-sucking vampires but indeed, Vlad Tepes was a ruthless ruler with a moralistic streak and had thieves, liars and cheaters tortured and executed by impaling them on a pole. He was in constant battle with the Ottoman Empire (the Turks), and was something of a hero for defending his land against the Ottoman invasion.
It is said that during his reign a golden cup was placed at a fountain in a busy commercial crossroads. For years, the golden cup was there and travellers would drink water from it every day. One day, the cup was stolen and people knew Vlad died.
Vlad knew no prejudice and impaled everybody that he considered deserved it, from nobles to regular citizens to foreigners who threatened his country’s interest. The executions were public events and, the bigger the person’s rank, the higher the pole for impalement was. Merchants travelling across the country heard stories about Vlad and spread them on their travels, embellishing them considerably. This way, the legend of Dracula was born.