February 28, 2012

Which Transylvania Castle is Count Dracula Associated With?

Most people who know about Vlad Tepes Dracula are quick to point out that there was no real Count Dracula, and that Tepes himself was a prince of Wallachia, a neighbouring Principality.  However, most people who know about Count Dracula associate one castle with this character.

This castle has become famous for this character, and yet, it was home to someone who changed the course of the Kingdom of Romania.  She would possible find it somewhat humorous that her descendants wanted to make this castle, her castle into something which would make them some more money-- a tourist site for Dracula.  This lady is famous in her own right as Queen Marie of Romania.  After he death, her daughter and her family inherited the castle.

Bran Castle

Another View Bran Castle.

If you guessed that the famous castle was Bran Castle then you are correct.  This makes for publishing a book on Transylvania interesting since most people do associate Dracula with Bran Castle.  They also understand that it is a tourist draw for people from North America and parts of Europe.  This earned money for Romania. There is a negative aspect to the association of Bran Castle with Count Dracula, as people loose the history and culture that Bran Castle has to offer.

 They even associate Romania with Dracula-- however at the time Transylvania was a part of the Empire of Austria when Bram Stoker wrote his novel, in 1897.  At the time, Marie was Crown Princess of Romania, and the castle was not part of the Romanian Royal Family's official residences.

February 25, 2012

Amazon.ca: In Search of The Lost Ones, Publishing is Fun

Publishing a book about Transylvania is a challenge, as it is a niche market, but it means the world to an author when the book they wrote and worked hard on is found, and purchased, and the best is to see that sales have happened. This is when writers jump for joy that someone has done something, other than say that your work seems interesting.

The best was seeing that there are sales in a niche market, and writing about Transylvania has always been a niche market no matter what.  It took time to grow this blog, and like any other niche market there were days when I wondered if writing about Transylvania, Romania was worth it.  Thanks to readers I know it was.  The idea that there is a rank and number to Amazon makes it all the more interesting to anyone who wants to know where to improve.  Readers speak with money and with time.  In this case, not everyone can have a kindle through Amazon.com.  Some readers, especially in European markets are allowed to purchase through their respective stores.  It's all about working with the readership you have.  It's harder when the book is about history and not about Count Dracula.

After publishing a niche market book, I can say that I find it. awesome to see some numbers, especially from Amazon. Today I wanted to share a bit of success about In Search of the Lost Ones, note that the numbers will have changed, but I have gone and looked at my book, and with a marketing plan in place, there seems to be reason to tell people-  My paperback version of In Search of The Lost Ones is having a great couple of days on Amazon.ca.

Most of my readership were trilled to learn they can buy this book in Canadian Prices... and this made a huge difference in sales.  It also is helped by the fact that readers can purchase books like mine in the United Kingdom, Germany and France at a low cost.  In fact, this afternoon I looked and found that In the European History section on Amazon.ca my book was ranked as number 11.  That's only for today, and that can change by the hour.  This does mean that another book will need to be published to maintain momentum and build an author reputation.

That comes from people like you, our readers here on Things About Transylvania, and buying the book. With this in mind, I have two very important words to say to you:


February 23, 2012

Dracula and Transylvania: How Much Money Does Dracula Make?

Transylvania has many tourist attractions and places that tourist can visit for a fee. There are many ancient castles and citadels which are easily found and visited by tourist who goes to Transylvania and Romania. One of the main attractions in Transylvania is Bran Castle, along with Brasov. This would be a popular destination without much help; however there is one other feature that makes Bran Castle and Brasov a popular tourist destination.

As you can see from the novel cover, of Dracula the Undead, it is Count Dracula, the character which brings in a lot of money to Transylvania. It would cost a tourist about 300 dollars to fly to Romania, and then pay for a hotel and admission to Bran Castle to see the place where Dracula "lived."  In the map of Romania below, Bran and Brasov are not very far away from each other, however the main airport in Romania is a bit of a distance, in Bucharest.

Thsi also means that Dracula makes Romania a lot of money since people need ot journey to Brasov and Bran Castle.

How mcuh money does Dracula make?  If one is referring to Count Dracula, he has made his creator, Bram Stoker, a lot of money, but the person whom Stoker based his character on has made, and will make money for both Romania and Transylvania.  With help from the Saxons of Transylvania who lived during the exile of Vlad Tepes III we also have a lot of interesting information about the man who made Dracula and Transylvania come alive to readers all over the world.

February 22, 2012

A Map of Transylvania Romania After World War Two

Transylvania is a part of Romania, and has been since 1919.  However, in 1940 part of Transylvania became a part of Hungary. At the end of the Second World War, the territory known as Northern Transylvania was returned to Romania.  It is interesting that the lands that were given to Soviet Russia were not returned to Romania, and the land that Bulgaria received was also not returned.

The map above shows what Romania looks like now, and it is very interesting to compare it to the map below that shows Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia in 1600.  In the second picture, close to the border of Transylvania, you can see the Austrian Empire.  The Ottoman Empire lies below Wallachia.  A truly interesting and important change in Romania and the united principalities after World War II is that Romania now borders the Black Sea.

It is also interesting that at the end of World War II and in 1600, the King of Romania and the person who united the three principalities were both named Michael.

February 20, 2012

Two Michaels of Transylvania

Michael the Brave entering Alba Iulia: This is an  image that is said to be the reason that the principality of Transylvania is a part of Romania today. In 1599, Michael the Brave entered the city and for less than a year Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia were united under one ruler. In 1600, he was killed. Transylvania became more and more a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

At this point Transylvania grew closer links to the Hungarian Royal family.

The second Michael is King Michael of Romania, and he was the ruler of Romania twice until his forced abdication by the Soviet forces in 1948. At the age of 90, he was willing to wait for Romania to vote for his services again. It is important to note that it was not under the rule of the first Michael (known as Michael the Brave) that there was a Romania, but rather under the rule of King Ferdinand that Transylvania became a part of Romania.

February 19, 2012

When Did Transylvania Become a Part of Romania?

Before 1918 and the Great War, Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, which was itself a part of the Empire of Austria.

The question of when Transylvania became a part of the Kingdom of Romania, is far more interesting:  On December 1, 1918 a vote took place in the city of Alba Iulia (near a the ruins of its citadel). The people of Transylvania voted on that day to join with the Kingdom of Romania, so this is one possible date.

Another possible date is when the Romanian Army entered the city of Brasov and Cluj by conquest on December 7, 1918.  Perhaps this is when when Transylvania became a part of Romania.  It was not until 1919 that the fighting ceased between Romania and Hungary.  This fighting is known as the Romanian-Hungarian conflict.

King Ferdinand of Romania signed a new constitution in 1923 that dealt with Transylvania and the other territories gained after the Paris Peace conferences.  There are then several dates on which one could say Transylvania became a part of Romania.  The most accepted is in 1918 and the Paris Peace conference of 1919.

February 18, 2012

Do Transylvania's Castles Help With Romania's GDP?

Transylvania and Romania have a growing economy at the moment, and this is in part due to tourism.  

However it should be noted that there was only one way to go after the fall of communism.  The economy still relies strongly on the services sector in Romania.  The tourism section, and the historical landmarks of Transylvania, mean the economy has a better chance at growing and building

In particular this is true when it comes to tourism in Romania, and this has an effect on Transylvania.  Most people come to Transylvania to see its ancient castles.  One of them is the well-known Bran Castle, but another is Hunyad Castle (also known as Corvin Castle, which was given to ) that, like Bran Castle, was restored in the last few years.

This is a picture of Hunyad Castle before the restorations happened.  In later years much of the restoration is based upon ideas as to how the Castle was supposed look like since it wasn't completed before Hunyadi died.  There is a link here as well to Vlad III Tepes.  After he was disposed as Prince of Wallachia in 1462, he was supposedly kept a prisoner there.

Chances are that this story is only a legend but the part says Vlad III Tepes of Wallachia was disposed is true.  It certainly makes a good tourist story, and in the process will earn money for the local economy.

The Hunyad Castle was built in 1409, and it became the property of Johann Hunyadi later, and from him it got its name. This is one of many castles in Transylvania and Romania which tourists can go and visit.  Huniade castle, in the city of Timisoara, was also one of the buildings commissioned by Hunyadi.  It was built over an older royal building.  In Transylvania,  after years of neglect many of these castles have been restored, to vary degrees.  

Castles like the two castles Johann Hunyadi commissioned to be built, have in turn helped in building the tourism industry in Transylvania. It seems that European visitors enjoy the sites of Transylvania a lot, as there is a large number of visitors who come each year.  Bran Castle and Hunyad Castle both rank high on the list of places tourists frequently visit in Transylvania.  Unlike Bran Castle which is privately owned by members of the extended Romanian Royal Family (the grandchildren of Queen Marie of Romania own it) most of the castles in Transylvania provide direct money to the area.

Tourism creates much needed jobs and capital in Transylvania, which generates about 35% of Romania's GDP. Transylvania's castles play a large part in this role of GDP producer.

February 17, 2012

How Many Castles are in Transylvania?

Most people are familiar with Bran Castle, which is located in Brasov county, as one of the many castles in Transylvania.  However, beyond that most people are not as familiar with the castles that are in Transylvania.

There are over 100 castles in various states of repair.  Some, like Bran Castle, have been restored to a state where tourists can visit.  Others have not been rebuilt and are now ruins.

This is an image of the restored Bran Castle.  Queen Marie of Romania had it restored to a livable castle, and after her death it was inherited by one of her daughter's children.  After the communists gained power in Romania, Bran Castle fell into disrepair once again and it was not until many years later that more restorations were undertaken.

There are other castles that are equally as interesting and one of those is ann entire city, still considered a castle or a citadel.  The city is Sighişoara, and it was one of the "seven castles" of the Transylvanian Saxons who call it Schäßburg.

Sighişoara was also the birthplace of Vlad Tepes III, when his father went into exile.  It is one of the most interesting tourist sites to visit most importantly during the autumn, when a medieval festival takes place in the city.  It is still an active and busy city, and like many of the castles of Transylvania, Romania, it is a UNESCO heritage site.

There are a lot of historical sites and a lot of history in Transylvania that comes alive with the help of these citadels and castles.  Transylvania has so many castles to explore and to learn about.

February 15, 2012

Is Transylvania Home to Werewolves?

There are many legends about vampires in Transylvania.  There are even people who many describe as vampires.  Two of those people who mentioned are Vlad Tepes and Countess Elizabeth Bathory.  There is another, better known legend in Transylvania.  That is the legend werewolf.

There were wolves in many part of Eastern Europe, and there are an equal number of legends surrounding werewolves circulating. In Hungary, it was once believed that werewolves were young children who were traumatized in some way and left home at the age of seven.  There are other legends telling stories about how one might become a werewolf as a adult.

In Romania there are similar legends of people who become animals.  This is something that most people of Transylvania were aware of.  They were careful around wolves and other animals, but for the most part simply took the stories for what they were -- legends or fairy tales.

Is Transylvania home to werewolves?  No it is not. The legend of werewolves however is as alive in Europe today as it has been for many centuries.  If there truly was a place where werewolves lived, then there would be some type of tourist attraction there.  Count Dracula and werewolves are a myth, but that has not stopped people from wanting to learn more about the land of Transylvania -- myths and all.

February 12, 2012

Was Bran Castle Important to Queen Marie of Romania?

Marie, formerly Princess Marie of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg Gotha, became Queen of Romania in 1914, after the death of King Carol I of Romania. She was not crowned as Queen since at the time, the First World War had begun.

She was the mother of several children, most of whom would be born in Romania, and three of whom would be either King or Queens of various Balkan countries. (Her son King Carol II of Romania, her daughter Queen Elizabeth of Greece and Her daughter Queen Marie of Yugoslavia)

Bran Castle was one of her royal palaces, and it was important to her.  However, in 1914 there was one important fact.

She did not have Bran Castle as a residence. Bran Castle was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, which in turn was a part of the Empire of Austria. It was an important historical place, but at the time was not an important place to worry about restoring. It did not look then as it does now.

Marie was influential in some of the restoration that Bran Castle would undergo in the twentieth Century.

After the end of World War One, Marie and many of the delegates at the Paris Peace Conferences were more worried about land, either losing or gaining it, than they were about landmarks. Most of Transylvania voted to join with Romania.  They were granted that wish, and in 1922 King Ferdinand and Queen Marie were crowned in the city of Alba Iulia.

This map shows where Transylvania was relation to Hungary before 1919, and if you look for Brasov, you will find it. Brasov, also known as Kronstadt, was another important city in Transylvania.

February 11, 2012

The Restoration Of Bran Castle, Now a Tourist Attraction in Transylvania

Bran Castle was a Knights Templar creation.  At the time, it was built to protect the access to Western Europe from the Mongols from the East, however, it was not finished until after the Knights Templar were forced to leave Transylvania.

Over time it fell into ruin. (This is a photo of one of the many walls-- the entire castle did not become this!)

This is one of the images of Bran Castle, although it was not completely in ruins, there was extensive damage.  There needed to be much restoration, and that would cost money which the Austro-Hungarian Empire did not have.

After Transylvania became a part of Romania, Queen Marie undertook a rebuild of Bran Castle -- similar to what she did in the city of Alba Iulia.  This was one of the palaces she lived in as both Queen of Romania and Dowager Queen of Romania ( After the death of her husband King Ferdinand in 1927).

After her death, the castle was used less, and once again it fell into disrepair.  Later, the Romanian government restored it and maintained it as a tourist attraction.  Now it is owned by some of the descendants of Marie's youngest daughter Ileana. At one time, they wanted to create it as Dracula's castle, but it was pointed out that Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad Dracul) never lived there.

This did not happen, but Bran Castle is still a large and important tourist destination in Transylvania, and in Europe as well.

February 9, 2012

Is Transylvania a Part of Europe?

I received an email recently, and try as I might I can't seem to think that somehow, people are somewhat misinformed about where Transylvania is today.

As of right now, Transylvania is not an independent country, and it is a part of Romania.  It was a part of Hungary until 1919 and the Treaty of Paris.  This was after the First World War, and at this time, the King of Hungary Charles II (also Emperor of Austria) had left his Empire.  There was a vote made by the people of Transylvania to unite with Romania.

This happened. After 1919, Transylvania became a part of Romania, and King Ferdinand and Queen Marie were crowned as rulers of Greater Romania. They would rule from 1914- 1927 until the death of King Ferdinand.

However, note that both Romania and Hungary are a part of Europe so Transylvania is a part of Europe..  They are a part of what is known as southeastern Europe and it too has a interesting history which dates back centuries.

Queen Marie and King Michael of Romainia

Below are images of a family, they seem united and pleased, and they also seem to understand their importance. They are part of the Royal Family of Romania, and two of them are famous in their own right. Queen Marie of Romania was the consort of King Ferdinand of Romania (she is the lady in the white feathered hat, he is standing to her left.)   You can see her in the center of the top photo with her husband on the left and her eldest son on the right.  Between Marie and Carol are the priests of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

This son would become Carol II of Romania.  When his father died he did not become king.  Carol II had renounced the throne, and his son Micheal became king in 1927, at the age of five. At the age of eleven Michael was usurped by his own father, and he once again became Prince Michael.

This photo of  Michael of Romania was taken during his second reign. His father Carol decided to come back to Romania, and he took the throne from his son. Later Michael regained the throne and proved to be an effective leader. He mentioned several time he learned a lot about running a kingdom well from his grandmother, Queen Marie.

Just like many historical leaders, such as Roman Emperors, who worked hard to create a dynasty, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie created a dynasty.  Marie, much like her grandmother Queen Victoria would be known by a smaller title that of the "mother-in-law of the Balkans" as her daughters would be Queens of Greece and Yugoslavia and one would become an Archduchess of Austria.  Michael's cousin Peter would also become a King while still a child- and Marie would be able to claim that two of her grandsons were Kings in the Balkans.  Her daughter Elizabeth, who was for a time Queen of Greece did not have children.

February 7, 2012

The Link Between Rome and Transylvania

The Roman Empire, at its height, was one of the largest Empires of its time, if not the largest. It ruled most of Europe, and this lead to many phrases like "all roads led to Rome." Before that time the Greek Empire was the largest, but they didn't have a direct link to Transylvania.

The Roman Empire did have a link to Transylvania.

In the photo above, the stone carving depicts the battle between the Roman army and the Dacian army many centuries ago.  The Dacian Empire was small in comparison to Rome's but, it was still of interest to one Emperor: the Emperor Trajan who rule the Roman Empire from 98 to 117 AD.  He wanted to expand his power base and to bring needed materials to Rome to keep his power structure strong.

He needed gold, and other natural materials.  The Dacian Empire and its people had several areas which had gold, and later, once Rome had won some victories, they built the city of Alba Iulia. (At that time it was called by a different name.)

How do we know this happened?
Just like we do today, the Emperor of the Roman Empire published his victories. Since he intended it to last, he carved his conquests and victories in stone.

February 6, 2012

Let's Begin: Publishing and Transylvania 1,000,000 books to Go!

The one million book challenge officially kicks off today.

This challenge is simple: I intend to sell 1,000,000 books in seven years.  I am very excited that In Search of The Lost Ones is included in this list.

You can find more information on Things About Transylvania One Million Book Challenge.  I want to make sure people know about Transylvania:  Where it is and how much people need to know about it.

February 5, 2012

Maps Of Transylvania Through The Centuries

This is a map showing the three principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia. Shown here as it was in about 1600, this would become the area called Greater Romania after 1919. In 1600, this land was united under Michael the Brave.

This next map shows the Kingdom of Hungary with Transylvania included.  Up until 1919, Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.  After 1919 and the end of the First World War, Transylvania became a part of Romania. Romania gained this land because they fought along side the allies during the War.

As an interesting side note, the Romanian Royal family was linked to Britain; Queen Marie of Romania was reigning with her husband King Ferdinand at that time.

This map, showing the Balkan countries, also includes the Kingdom of Romania, Hungary and the Kingdom of Serbia.  At this time the Kingdom of Hungary was a part of the dual monarchy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The last map shows Northern Transylvania as a part of Hungary between 1940-1945. During this time, the Southern part of Transylvania was in Romanian territory.  There was great upheaval in Romania as between 1927 and 1947 Romania was ruled by King Michael, King Carol II, and then King Michael again.

Be Prepared... Things About Transylvania: Challenge Upcoming

Be prepared... on Monday there will be a big announcement on a new page on Things about Transylvania. To help you try to find out what this is about, try to look at the pictures below.

Let the Challenge begin Monday.

Are you ready for this new challenge?  Will it change Things about Transylvania?  Not really, but be here to find out more.

February 3, 2012

History Of Dracula the Tepes Family: Vlad Tepes II

Vlad II Dracul was the father of Vlad Tepes III (roughly translated to Vlad the Impaler-- the person whom Bram Stoker based his well known character Count Dracula on). Tepes II was a prince of Wallachia twice, and of the house of Drăculești, (a part of the larger house of Basarab) and while holding the throne of Wallachia for the second time, he was killed by allies of Johann Hunyadi, a voivode of Transylvania. Hunyadi's son, Matthias Corvinus, would assume the throne of Hungary in 1458.

There was a long, and often bitter history between the two and it came to an end with Vlad II's death. After his death, Vladsilav II took the throne. He became the Prince of Wallachia for the next nine years. It was not until 1456 that Vlad III Tepes would avenge his father by killing the man who ruled after him.

This bitterness stemmed from the fact that during one of the many wars between the Kingdom of Hungary- which followed the  Catholic Church- and the Ottoman Empire- which followed Islam, Vlad II refused to fight for Hungary, and Hunyadi was angered by this. Vlad even sent his sons to the capital of the Ottoman Empire to be trained and educated there. Hunyadi died after a fierce battle in August 1456, after helping to kill Vlad II Tepes, who along with his eldest son Mircea II of Wallachia, was killed in 1447.

It was this son, who ruled as Mircea II of Wallachia during his father's absences or exiles, most notably in 1442, but it was his association with his father that was his downfall. In 1431, Vlad II Tepes was in exile in Transylvania, where his most famous son, Vlad III Tepes was born. Tepes II had other children, but none became as well known as this son.  Mircea and Radu are the other sons of Vlad Tepes II.

Both Vlad Tepes II and his son Vlad Tepes III were a part of the order of the Dragon which gave them the name Dracul.  They were sworn to protect Christianity from the heretics and Islam, but in 1444 Tepes II  refused to help the Kingdom of Hungary, as he promised he would do.  This led to much bitterness and the loss at the Battle of Varna later on.

What would become the country of Romania (The Principality of Wallchia is a part of Romania, since its independence) would not gain Independence from the Ottoman Empire until the 1800s.  Then it was ruled by several men, and Romania would gain the territory of Transylvania, after the end of World War One, long after the death of Vlad II Tepes.

February 1, 2012

Elizabeth of Romania: Her Husband Was King of Romania... But...

This is a photograph of Queen Elizabeth of Romania. She was born Elizabeth of Wied and married Carol of Romania, a German Prince. When it became clear that they would have no more children -- their only daughter died in childhood -- they groomed another family member to became ruler of Romania.

Queen Elizabeth of Romania
Carol I of Romania was a Prince of Romania. (When the country was founded, he was not the prince of Romania, that was another man.)  Carol was succeeded by his nephew, Ferdinand who married someone in the British Royal Family, Princess Marie of Edinburgh.

Elizabeth married Prince Carol I in 1869, and they would ruled Romania. At this time they were known as Prince and Princess of Romania, and after 1881, they were King and Queen of the land. She lived to see the outbreak of World War 1.  Her husband died in 1914.  After this time she was known as the Queen Dowager.

Elizabeth was also a writer, and she wrote under a pen name, Carmen Sylva.  Her successor to the Romanian throne, Queen Marie, also wrote and found success as a writer.  Elizabeth would not live to see Transylvania become part of Romania, for she died in 1916.

Unlike the history of Vlad Tepes, there is more information about Queen Elizabeth of Romania and her family.  She kept a diary of her thoughts and these have been valuable to many historians.  Her husband was King of Romania, but his territory did not include Transylvania.

The Kingdom of Romania, as it was when Elizabeth was Queen- Transylvania is not a part of it.