Yesterday, I shared the first part of my journey through Romania on the hunt for the true story of Vlad the Impaler -- the princely ruler of Wallachia and the focus of Universal’s new home entertainment release, Dracula Untold.
After exploring Castle Bran -- and sharing some thoughts from Luke Evans, the actor behind this latest iteration of Bram Stoker’s vampire creation -– my night ended in the medieval Saxon city of Brasov (shown below). Surrounded by the Southern Carpathian mountains, the 13th-century town is cradled by natural landscape and a lot of wildlife. While there are no vampires (that we know of!) in the forest, wolves, bears, boars and more make a home there. Brasov is gorgeously preserved, and is also home to a popular ski resort that I make note to visit when not on my Vlad mission.
Following a two-hour drive, we arrived in Curtea Domneasca Targoviste, the royal court of Vlad Tepes. Although many locations in the region claim a connection to Vlad, this was his home. Targoviste served as a capital for Wallachia, and was the focus of many sieges. In 1457, when the townsfolk were involved in the assassination of his brother, Vlad killed the city’s elite and sent their children to serve him at his Poenari Castle.
Vlad’s father, Vlad II (or Vlad Dracul, the Dragon), added to the structure which his father built, thus turning it into more of a castle. The royal court once had a church, large stone walls and a moat, but much is now left in ruins. Eventually the Chindia Tower (Sunset Tower) was added, which still stands as a symbol for the city and offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the area.
In 1462, during the second rule of Vlad III Dracula (the Son of the Dragon), the Ottomans attempted to invade Targoviste. This led to Vlad’s famous Night Attack, where he used his cunning to wear down the Turks and wage an attack killing some 15,000 enemy troops despite being outnumbered. He also attempted, unsuccessfully, to sneak into the Turkish camp to kill the sultan.
The Night Attack is represented in the film Dracula Untold, but it’s more vampiric super powers than strategy that aids the movie Vlad in the battle. Still, in addition to all the impaling he was known for, the real Vlad managed to evoke great fear in his enemies without any supernatural abilities. For instance, local Targoviste historian Vasile Lupasc shared with me a tale of Vlad sending the decapitated heads of some 20,000 Turks to the sultan in open wagons. The point was for the “gift” to be seen by all and instill terror as the caravan of wagons paraded throughout the land.
In the following video, I discuss Vlad the strategist with Evans, as well as Targoviste tour guide Mihai Nastase. Stay tuned for our final Dracula Untold piece from Romania and a full interview with Luke Evans about Dracula, and his future in the Universal Monsters-verse.