Romania’s Dracula: Where the Bloody Legend Began

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. To his enemies he was known as one thing: Vlad the Impaler. See where the 15th-century tyrant and later inspiration of Bram Stoker’s Dracula left his bloody footprint.

You Might Also Like

Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo
Capuchin Catacombs

Capuchin Catacombs

Down in the cold, dry basement of the Capuchin Monastery, on the outskirts of Palermo, Italy, are the remains of 8,000 people. When the monastery outgrew its original cemetery in 1599, catacombs were excavated beneath the building. In addition to friars interred here, well-known locals chose the crypts as their final resting place. The catacombs are open to the public; iron grills prevent visitors from touching or posing with those laid to rest here. 960 1280

Reuters  

Catacombs of Paris

Catacombs of Paris

A series of manholes and ladders lead visitors to the creepy catacombs of Paris. In 1786, the cemeteries of Paris churches were filled to overflowing. The government saw a solution in long-abandoned stone quarries in and around the capital. The resulting catacombs eventually became the final resting place of some 6 million people. Following a vandalism incident, the catacombs were closed to the public in September 2009, but reopened a few months later. 960 1280

Dave Shea, flickr  

Brno Ossuary

Brno Ossuary

The Brno Ossuary in the Czech Republic is estimated to hold the remains of more than 50,000 people, making it the second-largest site of its kind in Europe (behind the Paris Catacombs). The ossuary was established in the 17th century, partially under the Church of St. James. The ossuary was later forgotten, until its rediscovery in 2001. It has been open to public tours since June 2012. 960 1280

Kirk, Wikimedia Commons  

Monastery of San Francisco

Monastery of San Francisco

Below the monastery of San Francisco, in the historic center of Lima, Peru, creepy catacombs are filled with skulls and bones. The catacombs were established following the monastery’s construction (in 1774), and remained in use until 1808, when a city cemetery was founded outside of Lima. The catacombs were soon forgotten, until their discovery in 1943. An estimated 70,000 individuals’ remains fill the catacombs' narrow hallways and deep holes. 960 1280

Ray_from_LA, flickr  

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Light peeks through the darkness at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Following its consecration in 1147 A.D., the cathedral's grounds gave way to cemeteries – a result of the high honor that believers placed on being buried near a church. Interments began in 1735 and continued until 1783, when a new law forbade most burials within the city. Today, the cathedral’s catacombs house the remains of more than 11,000 persons. 960 1280

Neil Girling, flickr  

St. Paul’s Catacombs

St. Paul’s Catacombs

St. Paul’s Catacombs, outside of Mdina, Malta, are a series of underground galleries and tombs that date from the fourth to the ninth centuries A.D. Intriguingly, the 24 catacombs, which cradle the tombs of more than 1,000 dead, show evidence of pagan, Jewish and Christian burials side-by-side, with no clear divisions. The excavation of the catacombs began in the late 1800s, under the guidance of a Maltese archaeologist and author. The site is now managed by a national agency, with 2 catacombs open to the public. 960 1280

Ian Lloyd, flickr   

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa

The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (“Mound of Shards”) are a series of tombs in Alexandria, Egypt, that reach a depth of 100 feet. In the 2nd century A.D., they were built for a wealthy family … then forgotten until 1900, when a donkey fell into the access shaft. Human and animal remains have since been found, along with 3 sarcophagi. The catacombs’ name derives from visitors who used to visit the tombs and bring food in terra cotta jars to eat while there. They didn’t wish to bring the containers back home from this place of death, so they would break them … leaving shards behind. 960 1280

thecrawfordsphotos, flickr  

Sedlec Ossuary

Sedlec Ossuary

The Sedlec Ossuary is a small chapel in the Czech Republic that happens to have a whole lot of skeletons -- between 40,000 and 70,000, in fact. Some bones are arranged to form decorations in the chapel, including this chandelier of bones. The ghoulish designs are the handiwork of a 19th-century woodcarver who had been hired by an aristocratic family to arrange the bones, which had been interred in the ossuary since 1511. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Hallstatt Bone House

Hallstatt Bone House

Some visitors find the Bone House in Hallstatt, Austria, unexpectedly beautiful. We just find it creepy. The small chapel is home to a ghoulish display of 1,200 skulls. It came about in the 12th century, when the neighboring cemetery became filled to capacity. Cremation was forbidden, so bodies would be buried for about 15 years, then exhumed and placed in the chapel. Here, skulls are painted with a floral crown – a practice that began around 1720, in a gesture akin to placing flowers on a grave. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Skull Chapel

Skull Chapel

The Skull Chapel in Czerma, Poland, was built in 1776 by a local priest. The chapel serves as the mass grave for nearly 25,000 people who died during the Thirty Years War, 3 Silesian Wars (between Prussia and Austria), as well as from cholera outbreaks and hunger. The priest led the effort to collect the remains and put them in the chapel. The walls and basement are filled with skulls and bones; the remains of those who built the chapel are placed in the center of the church and on the altar. 960 1280

Merlin, Wikimedia Commons  

Capela dos Ossos

Capela dos Ossos

The Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones, in Évora, Portugal, gets its name from the human skulls and bones that cover its interior walls. The chapel was built in the 1500s by a Franciscan monk, who wanted his fellow monks to meditate hard on life’s transient nature. That message is driven home by some 5,000 skeletons, collected from nearby churches, as well as the words by the chapel’s entrance: “We, the bones that are here, await yours.” 960 1280

ceg, flickr  

Skull Tower

Skull Tower

In the early 1800s, Serbian rebels stood up to the Ottoman Empire. The Skull Tower was later built using the skulls of Serbs killed during a battle in 1809. In all, 952 skulls were collected and mounted on a tower as a warning to whoever opposed the empire. The tower stood in the open air until liberation of the area in southern Serbia in 1878. By then, much of the tower had eroded. In 1892, donations from all over Serbia led to the construction of a chapel, built around 58 skulls that still remained. 960 1280

Magalie L'Abbe, flickr  

Prague Castle
Prague Castle

Prague Castle

Dating back to the 9th century, the Prague Castle complex is home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels, the office of the president, courtyards, shops and countless other sights that shouldn't be missed. Open daily, Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world. Though many areas of the castle are free, it's worth the price of admission to tour St. Vitus Cathedral. Other attractions include the changing of the guard, castle gardens (open from April 1 to Oct. 31) and Golden Lane shops. The castle is not well-marked, so bring a map. 960 1280

iStock  

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

The <a title="Charles Bridge" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/take-a-tour-of-prague-11091" target="_blank">Charles Bridge</a> is Prague's iconic vaulted arch bridge, connecting Old Town Prague to Lesser Town. Huge crowds swarm to the 15th-century bridge each day to watch performers, browse street art and vendors’ wares, and to take pictures of the 30 Charles Bridge statues. Trips across the historic bridge vary from a half-hour crossing to a day-long guided tour. Start your visit before 9 a.m. to get the entire bridge to yourself.  960 1280

Ronira / iStock / Getty Images  

Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague’s Old Town Square features animated entertainers, hot local street food, horse-drawn carriages, colorful architecture and a medieval astronomical clock that is impossible to miss due to the large crowds who gather every hour. Go in the morning and enjoy ham and coffee while you watch the short mechanical performance on the hour. For a small fee you can take a tour behind the clock and gain an impressive view of the city. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Dancing House

Dancing House

Evocative and unique, the deconstructivist Dancing House stands out in rich contrast to the cobblestone streets and traditional architecture that surrounds it. The building was designed in 1992 by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. At the top floor, you'll find Celeste: a highly regarded French restaurant with a glass-enclosed dining room and soaring views of the Vltava River and Prague Castle. From June through September, diners have access to a rooftop terrace. Celeste is open for lunch and dinner, and reservations are a must. 960 1280

iStock  

National Gallery at Veletrzni Palac

National Gallery at Veletrzni Palac

Not to be confused with the larger National Gallery, the gallery at Veletrzni Palac offers 5 floors of contemporary art. The museum boasts important Czech works from artists like Kupka and Mucha as well as widely recognized masters such as Picasso, Seurat, Gaugin, Cezanne, Klimt, Rodin and Renoir. Veletrzni Palac also features items on loan from other Prague museums, including the Museum of Decorative Arts, making it an efficient visit for those on a tight schedule. 960 1280

alcuin, flickr  

Old Jewish Cemetery

Old Jewish Cemetery

The surreal Old Jewish Cemetery is home to an estimated 100,000 gravesites in what is thought to be up to 12 layers, with approximately 12,000 grave markers visible at the surface. The price of admission is worth the moments you'll spend reflecting among crooked tombstones, moss and erosion fighting to reclaim the space for Mother Nature. Visitors must pay an extra charge to take pictures, and access is granted as part of a combo ticket to visit other Jewish Quarter sites. 960 1280

Dnaveh / iStock / Getty Images  

Prague State Opera

Prague State Opera

The Prague State Opera features an often-changing schedule, English subtitles and wonderful acoustics. The Prague State Opera offers a surprisingly populist and fun atmosphere for audiences whose dress varies from casual to formal. The interior drips gold with opulent balconies, a baroque ceiling and ornate side panels. Prague opera tickets are affordable and specials are often available. A large second-floor balcony is where you can sip champagne and indulge your senses. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Vltava River Cruise

Vltava River Cruise

One of the most notorious Prague activities is the scenic river cruise. Cruising down the Vltava and admiring the Charles Bridge from the river is appealing, but it is important to find a trusted recommendation. Prague river cruises are notoriously overpriced with lackluster gastronomy, but that is not the case with every cruise tour. Select Prague cruises rival even the best European river cruises in beauty, entertainment and cuisine. <a title="Premiant City Tours" href="http://www.premiant.cz" target="_blank">Zizkov</a> comes highly reviewed by American travelers, as do the river cruises arranged by <a title="Prague Airport Transfers" href="https://www.prague-airport-transfers.co.uk/zakaznik" target="_blank">Prague Airport Transfers</a>. 960 1280

Marina Geysman / iStock / Getty Images  

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square

Take in the festive atmosphere and enjoy a trdelnik (traditional sweet pastry) at Wenceslas Square. Originally the site of a horse market, Wenceslas Square is home to a garden center, the neoclassical National Museum, the Wenceslas Monument and the main shopping area of New Town Prague. In addition to shopping and entertainment, the square was the site of critical chapters in history, from Nazi demonstrations to protests as part of the Velvet Revolution. 960 1280

iStock  

Zizkov

Zizkov

<a title="Zizkov" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/arts-and-culture/photos/worlds-wackiest-skyscrapers?page=4" target="_blank">Zizkov</a> makes a refreshing break from tourist-oriented districts.  Zizkov, a district centered between streets named Histka and Seifertova, is home to many pubs and fashionable but affordable cafes. Visit Palac Akropolis, a venue famous for indie culture, music, theater and art projects that also houses a restaurant, independent cinema and bar. Another must-see is the unmistakable TV tower. Zizkov offers panoramic views of downtown and the best green open spaces in Prague, including Vitkov Hill, a wooded ridge with a statue commemorating a  15th-century battle, and Parukarka, a public park with stunning views.  960 1280

Yuri4u80 / iStock / Getty Images  

Karlštejn Castle

Karlštejn Castle

Take a bike tour through Prague to Karlštejn Castle, a Gothic castle founded in 1348 AD by the King of Bohemia, Charles IV. One of the most famous and most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic, this castle has served as a safe place for the Imperial Regalia, Bohemian or Czech crown jewels, holy relics and other royal treasures. 960 1280

iStock  

Nizbor Glass Factory

Nizbor Glass Factory

See how the world famous Czech Republic pilsner beer glasses are made at the the Nizbor Bohemia glass factory. Learn the history and see the production firsthand of decorative Bohemian crystal used for decanters, perfume bottles and trophies. Visitors can also pick up newly-blown crystal at discounted prices. 960 1280

Wikimedia Commons  

Prague Shakespeare Company

Prague Shakespeare Company

Prague Shakespeare Company, continental Europe's premiere English-language classical theatre company, presents a wide variety of classic and modern plays and musicals year round. Relish in the rich history and culture of the city during the day and then in the evening be entertained with Prague Shakespeare Company. 960 1280

  

Wrigley Field’s 100th
Wrigley Field’s 100th

Wrigley Field’s 100th

Before it was ever known as Wrigley Field, Chicago’s famed baseball venue went by 2 previous names. Built in 1914 for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the stadium was first known as Weeghman Park, and later, as Cubs Park. In April 2014, Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday bash will showcase 10 decade-themed home stands as the stadium hosts the Arizona Diamondbacks. 960 1280

iStock  

St. Louis Turns 250

St. Louis Turns 250

The Gateway City marks its 250th anniversary this year. In 1764, French fur trader Pierre Laclede set out to construct a trading post near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Laclede eventually settled on a site 18 miles downriver. Today, St. Louis’s riverfront area is named Laclede’s Landing in his honor. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Berlin Wall’s Fall, 25 Years Later

Berlin Wall’s Fall, 25 Years Later

Germany marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November. The anniversary joins 2 other big events this year: 100 years since the outbreak of WWI and 75 years since the start of the second, earning 2014 the nickname in Germany of Super-Gedenkjahr, or the “super-year of commemoration.” 960 1280

Reuters   

WWI Turns 100

WWI Turns 100

In July 2014, the world marks the 100th anniversary of the Great War. In July 1914, Austro-Hungarian Empire formally declared war on Serbia, setting off World War I. Learn the story at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. The 32,000-square-foot facility consists of 2 theaters, exhibitions of period artifacts and replica trenches. 960 1280

National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial   

50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang

50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang

On April 17, 1964, Ford Motor Company unveiled the Mustang, and the smooth, 2-door beaut quickly became a fixture of American muscle car culture. (Who could forget the 7-minute chase scene in 1968’s Bullitt, when a Ford Mustang GT 390 rips through the streets of San Francisco?) Grab your shades, and celebrate the Mustang’s 50th with a ride in a sixth-generation Mustang this year. 960 1280

Getty Images   

D-Day 70th Anniversary

D-Day 70th Anniversary

This year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when the coast of Normandy, code-named Omaha Beach, saw the Allied invasion against German-occupied France. Commemorations will unfold everywhere from Bedford, VA, to the Norman coast, where Queen Elizabeth will be guest of honor. Meanwhile, Holland America is offering a 12-day D-Day tour, and a plethora of Normandy tours will recall the June 6 landings. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Japan’s Bullet Train (Shinkansen): 50th Anniversary

Japan’s Bullet Train (Shinkansen): 50th Anniversary

Japan’s high-speed railway turns 50 this year. In October 1964, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened between Tokyo and the Shin-Ōsaka Station 320 miles away, for a total trip time of 4 hours. Today, the journey takes about 3 hours. Spring 2014 will see test runs of the new Series E7 bullet train, with a top speed of 160 mph. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Sundance Film Festival's 30th

Sundance Film Festival's 30th

America’s top independent film festival sees its 30th anniversary this year. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Film Festival has gone on to showcase such groundbreaking films as Little Miss Sunshine and Beasts of the Southern Wild. This year’s festival will be held in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance Resort. 960 1280

Getty Images   

The Beatles: 50th Anniversary of US Debut

The Beatles: 50th Anniversary of US Debut

In early 1964, the Beatles kicked off their first official US tour with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Months later, with Beatlemania at its height, the Beatles performed at the Hollywood Bowl (pictured). Relive the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s US invasion with a Magical History Tour and a Beatles Walking Tour in NYC. 960 1280

david_hwang, flickr  

Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition: 100th Anniversary

Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition: 100th Anniversary

Just as WWI broke out, Sir Ernest Shackleton embarked on the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. Then his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s heroic journey. Relive one of the greatest survival stories of all time on an Antarctica cruise, the last frontier for cruise travelers. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

South Africa: 20 Years of Freedom

South Africa: 20 Years of Freedom

This year South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom and general elections. In 1994, on the heels of decades of struggle led by Nelson Mandela, South Africa transitioned from apartheid to a government of majority rule. Take a South Africa tour, and see where history was made. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Yosemite’s 150th Anniversary

Yosemite’s 150th Anniversary

This year marks Yosemite’s 150th anniversary. In June 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, the first land grant in the nation to protect wild lands for the enjoyment of future generations. This year, more than 150 events are planned at Yosemite to mark the historic milestone. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

New Jersey Turns 350

New Jersey Turns 350

The Garden State celebrates its 350th birthday in 2014. In 1664 Charles II of England granted a chunk of land on the East Coast to his brother, James. James then gave 2 friends part of the land; it was soon named New Jersey. It’s all just one more reason to celebrate the land of bikinis and boardwalks. 960 1280

iStock