Transylvania, a historic region in today’s Romania, is known around the world as the home of the mythical character ‘Count Dracula’, a.k.a. Vlad Tepes. But the historical eponym has little in common with the bat-surrounded, blood-drinking figure who has haunted us in our childhood nightmares.

Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia, actually lived from 1431 to 1476. He spent much of his time fighting for Christianity and trying to stop the Ottoman Empire from rising. In Bulgaria, he is regarded as a hero, for protecting the Bulgarian people from the Ottomans. However, his reputation as a general is surely not due to diplomatic skills. Vlad’s nickname, the impaler, speaks volumes about his favourite method of dealing with adversaries. Rumours of his infamous cruelty spread all over Europe and were passed on well into the 19th century, when they inspired Bram Stoker, an Irish novelist, to write his epic gothic novel Dracula.

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