Snagov Monastery – The Legend of Dracula
About 45 kilometers north of Bucharest, on an island in the middle of Snagov Lake, lays the monastery with the same name. Built around the time of Vlad the Impaler’s grandfather, Mircea the Old (around 1408), the monastery has become famous as the burial place of the king of Walachia who would become the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
There are many gaps to fill when it comes to the life of Vlad the Impaler. While his life have been exploited and his heroic battles against the Turks highly praised, little is known about the last hours of his legendary life. It is believed that Vlad’s decapitated body was found in the woods around Bucharest by the monks of the Snagov monastery and brought here to be buried since both Vlad and his father had donated money to the church. But Snagov was also a place of punishment. In a small cell, Vlad the Impaler invited his victims to kneel in front of an icon of the Virgin Mary. Suddenly a trap door would open and his guest would be sent to a ditch below where stakes stood erect ready to pierce his body. Decapitated skeletons found here stand as proof of these horrific crimes.
Another legend says that after the battle with the Turks in 1476, subsequent to which he died, the body of Vlad the Impaler was secretly buried in the Christian manner inside either of the churches. In one version of the story, Vlad was murdered in a nearby forest, and the monks of the monastery found the body. Perhaps the monks felt indebted to Vlad for the additions he insisted be added to their abode, most bizarrely, the prison and the torture chamber. Whatever the reasons, the monks dressed the body richly and put it to rest in front of the church altar.
The Legends of Snagov Monastery
Peasants talk about the “hidden treasures” of the Impaler. Sensing death, Vlad had them make cast-iron barrels in which he placed silver, gold and precious jewels; he then ordered the course of a river to be diverted by a dam (perhaps the Dambovita river) after getting rid of the riches, he gave free flow to the river and all the peasants involved were IMPALED!
Visitors who cross the lake by boat or over the bridge, reach the quiet, remote monastery that brings the legend alive! One can pay his respects at Dracula’s tomb, located at the altar footsteps, and admire the beautiful frescoes, some of which go as far back as the 15th century. Locals tell stories about a different church that existed here, which fell into the lake together with its steeple, during a storm. When the wind blows they say you can hear a chime rising from the bottom of the lake.
Nevertheless, people are superstitious and the monastery has had its fair share of bad luck: floods, earthquakes, the burning of the bridge connecting it to mainland during the 1821 revolution as well as being transformed into a prison in the 19th century. Although there has been a lot of debate around the real tomb of Vlad the Impaler and whether you are a Dracula fan or not, the monastery of Snagov is worth a peak! It was once an important hub of the cultural and monastic life: it hosted a printing shop as well as a mint…When coming here travelers understand why it was used as refuge as well as a prison… As for the vampire hunters…what better place to end a trip to Romania than the legendary burial place of the count of all counts: Count Dracula?!
Bram Stoker’s book ‘Dracula’ put Transylvania on the world map. There is one question left: Does Transylvania truly exist or is it a make believe land? If you dug deeper the answer can be fascinating: Yes, Transylvania exists! Transylvania is a region within the country of Romania, in Eastern Europe!
When rumors started that even the scary character, Dracula, is based on a true Romanian king of Wallachia, but born in Transylvania, people rushed here to see for themselves Transylvania: the land beyond the forest, the home of vampires, werewolves and creatures of the night. Those who venture here will discover a picturesque country, quite different from what they had imagined. However Dracula themed tours will always be popular. Tourists look to step on the Dracula’s footsteps, visit his castles, his Royal Court and finally, his tomb at the Snagov Monastery.