- Jelangkung is a traditional game called (literally) The Human Soul Is Dead, and the media used is a doll made of wood and coconut shell. The spirits enter the wooden puppet. The living who come in contact with the puppet can be taken over by the spirit of its dead inhabitant.
Watch the scary movie (English subtitles)
This is where Vlad Dracula came home to after a hard night’s work.
Though historians debate the point, Bran Castle, perched on a precipice in the Carpathian Mountains, has achieved the dubious distinction of being known as the home of Vlad Dracula. Other castles where he lived have succumbed to time, but Bran survives, one of the best-preserved examples of Medieval architecture in Romania. And, while there are no facts to prove it, there is reason enough to associate Vlad Dracula, at least peripherally, with the castle.
Built by the king of Hungary in 1377, it served as the principal mountain fortress guarding the main trade routes between the kingdoms of Transylvania and Walachia. In 1395 it was given to Prince Mircea, Vlad Dracula’s grandfather. The arch villain’s trail must have led him within the environs of the castle frequently, if not in his youth, then in his maturity, to visit his chief benefactor, Janos Hunyadi, a subsequent owner of the castle. For a time Vlad Dracula was in charge of guarding the southern flank of Transylvania and few places offered a better defensive vantage point than the lofty battlements of the principal fortress in the area.
Left: Ready for a good night’s sleep.
Right: Late gothic portal for short vampires.
Like his grandfather, Vlad Dracula prospered under the protection of the Hungarian king and enjoyed three separate reigns as prince of Walachia. However, in 1462 his relationship with the king suffered a setback when the monarch intercepted monies sent by Pope Pius II to Vlad Dracula to bolster his battle with the Turks. Withdrawing his support, the king had Vlad Dracula arrested near Bran Pass, a few miles from the castle, and conjecture has it that for a time he was detained, perhaps even imprisoned, at Bran Castle.
Approached from Bran Pass, the castle indeed resembles the “wild and uncanny” place depicted by Bram Stoker. Its stern facade bespeaks the feudal days of the Middle Ages. Inside there are vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, endless labyrinthine corridors, a secret passageway, and even the dungeon where Vlad Dracula is believed to have been imprisoned.
Left: New entrance added 1622.
Right: Boiling water was hurled from the East tower.
Chez Dracula – Part 2
In the seventeenth century a series of architectural changes were made, and again in the 1920s and 1930s, when Bran was a favorite summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her state-arranged marriage to the Romanian prince, later King Ferdinand, was not a happy one. She loathed her husband and kept her distance by staying at Bran, where she rode horses and wrote poetry and novels. She also worked closely with her court architect, Carl Liman, and the changes they made to the exterior of the castle, as well as the furnishings that remain from her day, reflect her love of local traditions and a mix of Italian and German Baroque styles.
Left: Knock, knock.
Right: Who’s there?
The queen apparently was not disturbed by the ghost of Dracula–she regarded the home as exclusively her own. Yet today the myth of the vampire villain clings to the mirrorless castle, a proof, perhaps, that folklore and fiction are sometimes more persuasive than reality itself.
Above: Queen Marie (Remember her? The queen who left her heart in Romania, in a jar ) decor in the dining room