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Transylvania is best known as the mysterious land of bloodthirsty vampires and howling wolves. Some may think it’s fictional, but this central Romanian region is a real place. And it’s pretty special, too.

Bordered to the east by the Carpathian Mountains, ‘the land beyond the forest’ still feels undiscovered. So, pack your garlic – here’s the lowdown on one of Eastern Europe’s most captivating regions.

The famous Bran Castle near Braşov is Transylvania’s top tourist attraction © Cristian Balate / Shutterstock

Dracula is real (sort of)

Bram Stoker’s 1897 vampire novel was inspired by centuries-old superstition and the real-life exploits of Vlad Dracula. Known by his murderous moniker, Vlad Ţepeş (the Impaler), the 15th-century Wallachian nobleman was said to have skewered up to 80,000 enemies on long spikes.

Despite his wicked ways, he’s considered a hero in Transylvania, so not everyone’s thrilled with the region’s bloodsucking reputation. After years of opposition from locals, the Romanian tourism board announced plans to develop ‘vampire tourism’ using European funds.

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