Daily Escape

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg

Photo by Mariusz Kluzniak/Moment/Getty Images

Vianden Castle

Vianden, Luxembourg

uilt between the 11th and 14th centuries, Vianden Castle in northern Luxembourg is one of the largest examples of a fortified castle constructed during Europe's Romanesque and Gothic periods. In the 1800s, it fell into a state of ruins, but in 1977, ownership was transferred to the state by the family of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Since then, major renovations and restoration have taken place. Original construction is still on display in the chapel, as well as the small and large palaces. Visitors can also tour the Knights Hall, crypt and grand kitchen, among other rooms.


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Alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler
Snagov Monastery

Snagov Monastery

On a tiny islet, surrounded by a lake, stands Snagov Monastery. Vlad enthusiasts have been claiming since the 19th century that Vlad himself is buried inside this monastery, more than 300 miles from Bucharest. While there’s no definitive proof of it, it sure makes for an intriguing story. 960 1280

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Count Dracula Club

Count Dracula Club

Inside this 19th-century house in Bucharest, visitors encounter a Dracula-inspired restaurant with some, um, newfangled twists. Dine on menu options like “Count Dracula’s Beefsteak” and the “Van Helsing Plate,” in honor of Dracula’s biggest enemy. But beware -- someone might sneak up on you, and take a bite out of your tasty neck! 960 1280

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Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

The medieval fortress, about 100 miles from Bucharest, was invaded by Vlad back in the day. Perched atop a 200-foot-tall rock, overlooking the village of Bran, Bran Castle yields panoramic views of the village below. 960 1280

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Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress

This weathered, cliff-side castle was Vlad’s main fortress. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in south-central Romania by the rulers of Wallachia (a principality in what is now Romania), the castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin, until Vlad stepped in and oversaw its repairs. 960 1280

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Chindia Tower in Targoviste

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

This military tower, in the Romanian city of Targoviste, was built by Vlad in the 15th century. Construction began during Vlad’s second reign (his first reign had been interrupted by a political coup and subsequent exile). Vlad came back strong with Chindia Tower, which stands at more than 88 feet. 960 1280

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Vlad's Old Princely Court

Vlad's Old Princely Court

This place of residence, located in Bucharest’s historic center, was built during the rule of Vlad III. But don’t let its regal arches and (1 remaining) Corinthian column fool you; the princely court was also likely a house of horrors. Local lore has it that Vlad kept his political enemies in dungeons beneath the court’s grounds. 960 1280

Nicubunu, Wikimedia Commons  

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Vlad’s gory legend was born in the Transylvania city of Sibiu. In 1459, thousands of people were impaled in the city, at Vlad’s orders, on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Vlad’s victims included women and children, along with merchants and the local aristocracy. While some justify Vlad’s gruesome acts as a defense of nationalism (many of his victims were German Saxons), his detractors note that many of his victims were also from his native Wallachia. 960 1280

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Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

See where Vlad III was born. In the winter of 1431, the future Prince of Wallachia was born in the present-day city of Sighisoara -- this yellow building is his supposed birthplace. Vlad’s father was Vlad II Dracul, who went on to become the voivode (warlord) of the area. No one really knows who Vlad III’s mother was; some speculate it was a princess from Moldavia, but Vlad’s father had several mistresses. 960 1280

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Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass

This high mountain pass, roughly 309 miles northwest of Bucharest, is actually known as the Tihuta Pass. Located in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, the area was made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula -- in the novel, he rechristened the area, “Borgo Pass,” depicting it as the gateway to Count Dracula’s lair of horrors.

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Hotel Coroana de Aur

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Once you’ve checked out the Borgo Pass, settle down for the night at Hotel Coroana de Aur. The property comprises 109 rooms and 4 suites, with air-conditioning, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi among the amenities, making for a clean, streamlined environment to kick back and read up on Vlad and Dracula’s bloody exploits. 960 1280

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Corvinesti Castle
Corvinesti Castle

Corvinesti Castle

One of the most stunning Gothic-style castles in Romania, Corvinesti Castle was built on the site of a former Roman camp. With a drawbridge, 100-foot well, towering buttresses and more than 50 rooms filled with medieval art, this is one of the must-see castles in Transylvania. 960 1280

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Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Located near the scenic mountain town of Sinai, Peles Castle’s architecture reflects both Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival style. Peles Castle was the first European castle to be powered by electricity and has over 160 rooms filled with paintings, sculptures and medieval arms. 960 1280

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Peles Castle Arms Room

Peles Castle Arms Room

Once the summer home to Romania’s first king, Carol I, Peles Castle’s “Great Hall of Arms” consists of a collection of roughly 16,000 pieces of weaponry and armor that date between the 15th and 19th century. 960 1280

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Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Romania’s most notorious castle? None other than Bran Castle, legendary home to Bram Stocker’s mythical Count Dracula. Vampire fan or not, you can’t help but feel the aura of mystery that surrounds this castle hovering high atop a 200-foot rock with its foreboding towers. 960 1280

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Bran Castle Interior

Bran Castle Interior

Inside Bran Castle, the mysterious atmosphere continues with narrow, winding stairways, 60 odd rooms filled with medieval weapons and armor, and dark underground passages. 960 1280

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Biertan Fortified Church

Biertan Fortified Church

Take a trip back to the medieval age with a visit to the quaint village of Biertan, a Unesco World Heritage Site. High on a hill in the village lies a 15th-century fortified church protected by 35-foot-high defensive walls. The inside of this medieval church is equally impressive with the largest Transylvanian multi-paneled wooden altar and a church organ with over 1,290 pipes. 960 1280

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Rasanov Fortress

Rasanov Fortress

Built around the 13th century by the Tetonic Knights, this citadel’s ancient ruins are a popular tourist attraction today. Visitors can get in the medieval spirit with a tour of Rasnov’s Feudal Art Museum that displays medieval artifacts and even a skeleton locked in a dungeon. 960 1280

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Calnic Fortified Church

Calnic Fortified Church

What makes this fortified church unique is its combination of Saxon noble and peasant community contributions. When the Saxon noble family sold the fortress to the peasants of Calnic in 1430, the village community built a new wall and a chapel in the courtyard. Inside the chapel, visitors today can see fragments of a 16th-century fresco. 960 1280

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Viscri Fortified Church

Viscri Fortified Church

Built in the 12th century, Viscri’s fortified church is considered to be the oldest church in Transylvania. Make your way to the top of the church tower for panoramic views of Viscri’s picturesque countryside and village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 960 1280

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Fagaras Fortress

Fagaras Fortress

This Transylvania stronghold withstood sieges and attacks in medieval times due to impenetrable brick walls and a deep, wide moat that surrounds the citadel. Today, visitors can tour the well-preserved fortress, which houses the Fagaras County Museum, with its collection of medieval weapons and folk crafts. 960 1280

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Bethlen-Haller Castle

Bethlen-Haller Castle

If you ever wanted to spend a night in a castle, this is your chance. With a mix of French Renaissance and Baroque style, Bethlen-Haller Castle offers history and wine lovers 14 guest rooms and 4 luxurious suites on a historic site with one of the largest vineyards in the country. 960 1280

ALina Musat, Wikimedia Commons  


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