Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Legends, Castles and Fortifications

Castle Bran
While roaming through Transylvania, one is lured by the legends and mysteries of time, the castles and fortifications that appear on the horizon on mountain tops and remote hills.

In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a terrifying story about Count Dracula. A century after, there are still people who believe in it. Even researchers are trying to find out the truth about Dracula. All are trying to clear the mystery: was there or wasn't there a vampire in Transylvania?

How many of these fabulous stories are legends and how many say the truth ? 

Here is the legend about Dracula.

  Stoker's story is based on the life of Vlad Tepes/Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476), a ruler revered by Romanians for standing up to the Ottoman Empire.

Known as one of the most dreadful enemies of the Turks, Vlad started organizing the state and enforcing the law by applying death penalty and impaling all those he considered enemies: robbers, cunning priests, treacherous noblemen, beggars, usurper Saxons. In fact he fought against everybody who tried to replace him either by his step brother Vlad the Monk or by his cousin Dan the Young. 

The historians nicknamed him Vlad Tepes while people say he was Count Dracula because he used to sign with his father's name, Dracul "The Devil". Dracula is derived from the Romanian word for devil or dragon.

 This word alone carries with it magic and mystery.

Caste Bran Stables

His castle is supposed to be Bran Castle, situated between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, right where you enter Rucar-Bran Pass.

Since its narrow corridors constitute a mysterious labyrinth of ghostly nooks and secret chambers easy to hide a "vampire" the legend continues to exist.

One actual documented fact is that
Vlad Tepes lived only for a short time in the castle and only as a guest.

Bran Castle conjures up the perfect Gothic fairy-tale image of a Transylvanian castle and as a result draws crowds of tourists from far corners of the world.

The first documentary attestation of Bran Castle is the letter written in 1377 by the Hungarian nobleman Ludovic I D'Anjou, giving the inhabitants of Brasov some privileges. In 1498 the fortress passed under the merchant's possession and it was used mainly for trading. In the 18th century the fortress was the house of the Austrians frontier guards.

In 1836 Bran became the official border and the defense role of the fortress was no longer a priority.

In 1920, the Brasov Town council donated Bran Castle to Queen Maria of Great Romania, who lived there with the royal family till 1947 when the Communist regime came to power and the royal family had to go in exile.

Since 1947 the Castle is opened as a museum.

Upper Moeciu

Down in the valley, in the village of Moeciu, a pot is simmering on the wood stove, clouds of aromatic steam glaze the windows....soon it will be brought to the table...VEAL APPLE SOUP.


1 lb veal meat cut in cubes
3 Grannie Smith apples, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 parsley root, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
2 tbs sour cream
1 ts sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper
flat leaf parsley chopped

olive oil

  • In a large pot saute the meat and the chopped vegetables in some olive oil for 10 minutes on medium heat, salt and pepper.
  • When caramelized a bit, add water for 6 servings of soup and let simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, or until the meat is soft.
  • Remove the meat and vegetables from stock, set aside in a bowl.
  • Add the apples, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to the broth to taste. Boil on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Return the meat and vegetables to the soup, check for salt, ad fresh parsley and the sour cream diluted with some of the broth.
Serve hot with warm rustic bread and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.