Some of you may be saying “Amelia! This is a show on ghosts! This is not a show about cryptids! This is not a show about vampires! This is not a show about weird basement dwellers who spend too much time in chat rooms and claim they need blood to survive” No, this show is none of those things.
However, what I tell you about in the season 2 finale is the story of the real life Count Dracula. The Prince of Wallachia, who ruthlessly reigned over what is known as Romania, Yes. Tonight, we are talking about Vlad the Impaler, his horrific reign, and about the many, many, unusually large amount of places this real life nightmare is said to now haunt. Get ready for a tale full of history, brutality, hauntings, and me mispronouncing the name of almost every city in Romania with total confidence. Check out the full episode wherever podcasts can be found or by clicking HERE.
For the sake of our blog I’m going to be including some information on the places haunted by Vlad The Impaler below but be sure to check out the episode for lots of history and the first mention of my Moldavian quarantine partner who would later inspire the Season 4 finale on Ghost Brides (because I married him, get it? 😉)
WITCHES POND, BOLDU FOREST
The first location supposedly haunted by the ghost of Vlad the Impaler is an area where he is said to have been killed. While the exact location where Vlad was murdered isn’t really known, it is said to lie within the Boldu Forest just outside of Bucharest. Interestingly, many people believe that Vlad was beheaded alongside an already very mystical body of water known as the Witches Pond.
The Witches Pond is notorious for being a gathering place for witches and the pond is thought to contain some kinds of magical properties and cursed water.
According to the legend, the pond (which is only 5m. in diameter) is said to be ther location where, after the 1977 earthquake, many trucks unloaded debris with the aim of stoppering the pond. Within weeks, the debris disappeared in the waters of the pond despite this small pond only having a depth one and a half meters. Locals say that many times when pregnant women didn’t want the child they would go to the pond, bathed and ridded the pregnancy. Even the animals in the area avoid the area surrounding the pond. It is said that the pond is famous for traveling witches to gather each year to Sânziene, St. George and St. Andrew to practice their magic rituals. Near this eye of water have been observed over time strange phenomena, like globular lightnings or storms started suddenly. It doesn’t matter if there is a major rainstorm or a huge drought- the pond doesn’t change at all. In a video from mid-90s is shown a strange phenomenon: in midsummer, on an area of some square meters it snowed, immediately after a woman from the stunt team was terribly amused while trying to put a helmet on the head of a mannequin that portrayed Vlad the Impaler.
People have also claimed to see a man walking in the area, sometimes with a head, sometimes without, who many believe to be the ghost of Vlad Tepes.
The next haunted destination is Corvin Castle. Though Corvin looks like a true fairytale castle, one of the most pristine medieval fortresses remaining in Europe, it has a brutal history of torture and executions. Vlad himself was imprisoned here for approximately 7 years. It is said that he survived by drinking the blood of rats and was slowly driven to insanity inside his dark cell. Some say this was a driving factor in his blood lust, however, the legitimacy of these stories has been questioned, because as you will learn if you listen to our full episode on the subject, he was treated pretty alright for the time.
Since Vlad’s death, some say his spirit has returned to become trapped in the dungeon, just underneath the Hall of Knights. Though some say this could just be residual energy left from his stay at Corvin Castle.
Known as Poenari Fortress, this one is Vlad’s actual castle and what many consider to be the most probable haunted spot Vlad likes to hangout in.
The crumbling Poenari Fortress exists high in the Făgăraș Mountains. It is accessible to the few tourists willing to make the harsh trip to visit it by ascending 1480 stairs up a steep hill. Unlike Bran Castle, which has been heavily marketed to foreigners as Dracula’s Castle, Poenari Castle actually has true ties to Vlad Tepes. Yet, it remains a rarely visited attraction due to its remote location, accessibility and likely due to its small size and deteriorated state of appearance. Sounds to me like it just needs a tram and a good marketing team.
Poenari Fortress and it’s surroundings are said to be insanely haunted. Legend has it that Vlad spotted this ruined castle and its strategic position, so he claimed it and enslaved his enemies to rebuild it. Many of these workers died in the process. Once the project was completed, legends state that these slaves were then executed, by impalement (hence the nick name “Vlad the Impaler”).
Eventually, the castle came under attack and was seized from Vlad. He famously managed to escape by turning the horseshoes backwards on his horse to fool his enemies.
The most famous ghost story associated with the haunted Poenari Castle is related to that of Vlad Tepes’ wife. It is told that during the siege upon Poenari Fortress, which Vlad managed to escape from, his wife was left behind. Out of fear and desperation, she flung herself from one of the Castle’s towers, off the side of the mountain to the Arges River below. Sadly, the option of death seemed more appealing to her than the thought of being captured by the invading enemy forces. Knowing what I do about the time I have to say I would agree with her. Legend has it that the river ran red with her blood and was nicknamed The Lady’s River following her death.
Since then, many claim that Vlad’s wife continues to roam the ruined Poenari Castle. Many have claimed to sight what they believe to be her apparition within the castle, as well as near the river cutting through the valley below.
The ghosts of those who were enslaved and killed in order to rebuild the fortress are also rumored to haunt the area. Many claim to have sighted them in the surrounding valley and castle. There are also frequent reports from visitors claiming to see unexplainable light anomalies in the valley, which quickly ascend to the castle up the hill, where no apparent pathway exists.
Another place with alleged ties to Vlad is over in Budapest, Hungary. Here, we find a tunnel system known as the Buda Labyrinth. This tunnel system spans underneath a castle and was once used as a prison and torture area. It is claimed that Vlad was held prisoner here for a number of years, there are some rumors that his ghost exists within Buda Labyrinth. I couldn’t find a ton of information on this but I do enjoy a good Labyrinth and if I ever find myself in Budapest will be sure to report back.
WHAT ABOUT BRAN CASTLE?
Interestingly, this one is marketed as Dracula’s Castle, probably because it is the most glorious castle in Transylvania, but in reality, doesn’t have any ties to Vlad. It is possible that Vlad stopped at Bran Castle for a night or two, yet that isn’t documented and just speculation. So, while the castle is believed to be haunted by many ghosts, the ghost of the real-life Dracula is not one of them.
To find out more about Vlad the Impaler and the places he haunts be sure to check out the full episode available wherever podcasts can be found or by clicking here!
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