Daily Escape

Torre de Belem

Photo by Alex Holland / Cultura / Aurora Photos

Torre de Belem

Lisbon, Portugal

To keep raiders from the city of Lisbon, Portugal, King Joao II erected the Belem Tower by the River Tagus. A strikingly lovely piece of military fortification, the tower has stood since 1520. Its unique decorations include symbols of the king’s power, such as, interestingly, a rhinoceros. Before becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the tower was utilized as a customs house, lighthouse and even a political prison.


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Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

The 12,000-acre estate of Haxby Park in Downton Abbey owes its impressive exterior to Waddesdon Manor. The sprawling country estate in Buckinghamshire, England, was built between 1874 and 1898 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Downton’s Mary calls the house large and rather vulgar; we call it rather divine. 960 1280

Elliott Brown, flickr  

Leeds, England

Leeds, England

Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire County, with local cities such as Leeds mentioned in the show. The thriving city is home to more than 750,000 people, and can trace its history back to the 5th century, when the Celtic’s Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis," the origin of the name Leeds. 960 1280

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Ealing Studio

Ealing Studio

This West London studio is the oldest continuously operating film studio in the world, says Guinness World Records. Scenes focused on Downton Abbey’s servants’ quarters were shot on the studio’s 3A and 3B stages. 960 1280

Diamond Geezer, flickr  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Welcome to the real Downton Abbey. Since 1679, this sprawling, 1,000-acre estate in Hampshire, England, has been home to the aristocratic Carnarvon family. Tours of the castle include the gardens and woodlands, as well as the state rooms, such as the library, which is home to nearly 6,000 books. 960 1280

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Bampton

Bampton

Many of Downton’s exterior shots have been filmed in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire, England. Among the sites captured on film is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (pictured), a local parish church built in the 12th century. 960 1280

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County of Yorkshire

County of Yorkshire

This historic county in Northern England serves as the fictional location for the series. With its gently rolling hills, the countryside has earned the nickname of, “God’s Own County.” That’s no exaggeration; within its borders, the county contains some of the greenest areas in all of England. 960 1280

Paul Stevenson, flickr  

Malton

Malton

Downton’s characters often talk about this North Yorkshire town. The small, ancient locale, which historians say rests on the site of a former Roman settlement, is home to 4,000 people, and includes a cozy, charming market place with a number of cafes. 960 1280

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Rise Hall in Akenham

Rise Hall in Akenham

Downton’s gripping World War I scenes were filmed in Suffolk, near the village of Akenham. While you’re touring this stretch of Eastern England, check out the village: home to just 60 residents, with landmarks such this Georgian building on the site of an ancient manor house. 960 1280

Andrew Hill, Wikimedia Commons  

York

York

This city in North Yorkshire, England, was the site of one of the series’ most dramatic moments: John Bates’s trial for the murder of his wife, Vera. (Spoiler alert: a mutual acquaintance later helped to clear Mr. Bates’s name.) Pictured here is a city landmark, York Castle, a fortified complex build up over 9 centuries. 960 1280

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Greys Court

Greys Court

Shortly after their wedding, Downton Abbey newlyweds Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley went looking for property. Their search led to this picturesque 16th-century mansion, set amid a sweeping courtyard and gardens in Oxfordshire, England. 960 1280

Wikimedia Commons  

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

fusion-of-horizons, flickr  

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

Count Dracula Club   

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

RomaniaTourism.com  

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

RomaniaTourism.com
  

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

Aleksandar Cocek, flickr  

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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Richard Mortel, flickr  

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

Iván Vieito