There is a relatively small list of historical figures who are able to elicit fascination even centuries after their deaths and in geographies far removed from their native lands. One of the best examples of this is that of Vlad Dracula (Vlad “Son of the Dragon”), also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad “the Impaler”), known by the Ottomans as Kazıklı Bey (“Impaler Prince”) or more mundanely Vlad III.
Vlad Tepes is today considered to be a national Romanian hero for his efforts to keep Wallachia independent of both Ottoman and Austrian-Hungarian Imperial domination. He engaged in a brutal guerilla war against the armies of Mehmed II and moved aggressively to consolidate his power at the expense of the local nobility.
Certainly, the above is a fair portrayal, though his survival in the imagination of the world undeniably owes more to his methods – Vlad Tepes was not a soft man, and believed fervently in the exercise of brutality as a method of establishing, consolidating and expanding his power. Whether his methods justified the ends is ultimately a determination for individuals, but few would deny that even today, centuries after his death, he holds a fascination that few historical figures can rival.
Since college I have been among those who found him fascinating, and it is since then that I have harbored a thought of going where went: in Romania where he was born, ruled and fought, in Hungary and Turkey where he was imprisoned, and in Bulgaria where his father handed him over as a hostage to the Ottoman Empire.
It has been a long time coming, but I have begun planning at long last to do just this late next year. Starting in Hungary, moving into Romania, and then through Bulgaria into Turkey I am working on the plans. Some of the areas have a lot of tourist attractions, such as Visegrad in Hungary, some are more obscure, such as Poenari Castle where he was under siege by his brother Radu the Handsome and the Sultan’s armies. Some are downright obscure, most notably Egrigoz Fortress deep in the heart of western Anatolia.
Should be fun. I promise pictures.