Do you have the courage to spend a night in Drac­ula’s Cas­tle?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -


BRAN CAS­TLE, Ro­ma­nia: Drac­ula’s cas­tle will have overnight guests on Hal­loween, mark­ing the first time since 1948 that any­one has slept in the Tran­syl­va­nian fortress.

The site’s ac­tual name in Bran Cas­tle, and two peo­ple will get to sleep there on Oc­to­ber 31 thanks to a pro­mo­tion by Airbnb. The guests will be wined and dined, then left alone to lie down in red vel­vet- trimmed coffins just as Drac­ula did in the Bram Stoker hor­ror novel that pop­u­larised the leg­end.

The cas­tle is fa­mous for its con- nec­tion to Vlad the Im­paler, a re­al­life prince who stayed there in the 15th cen­tury and had a cruel habit of us­ing stakes to im­pale his vic­tims. Vlad in­spired Stoker’s story of Count Drac­ula.

The Airbnb con­test to find guests for the night launched on Mon­day.

Ap­pli­cants were asked to use their “vam­piric wit” to imag­ine what they’d say to Count Drac­ula if they met him. Win­ners will be flown to Ro­ma­nia and then taken to the cas­tle in the Carpathian Moun­tains. If they’re too spooked to sleep in the coffins, beds are on hand.

The cas­tle is one of Ro­ma­nia’s top tourist at­trac­tions, with more than 630 000 vis­i­tors a year. Host­ing the one-off Airbnb event is a de­scen­dant of Bram Stoker, Dacre Stoker.

“I want to make it both re­al­is­tic and show the leg­end in the won­der­ful coun­try that birthed the whole thing,” Stoker said. He’ll play the role of Jonathan Harker, a char­ac­ter from the novel who en­coun­ters Drac­ula at the cas­tle. When the win­ners ar­rive in a horse-drawn car­riage, he plans to greet them us­ing the same words Drac­ula used in his an­ces­tor’s story: “Wel­come to my house! En­ter freely. Go safely, and leave some­thing of the hap­pi­ness you bring!”

Stoker said stag­ing “Hal­loween night in Drac­ula cas­tle” was a way of “re-cre­at­ing the book, and giv­ing peo­ple a good ex­pe­ri­ence and a good scare”.

The win­ning pair will tour the cas­tle, then be treated to a can­dle­light din­ner of chicken pa­prikash, the same meal de­scribed in the novel.

Airbnb’s rules for the night are sim­ple: no gar­lic or sil­ver jew­ellery – both be­lieved to ward off vam­pires – and this re­minder: “The count is not a fan of mir­ror self­ies.” (Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, a vam­pire’s im­age can­not be seen in mir­rors.)

Vlad im­paled his vic­tims as pun­ish­ment for wrong­do­ing. His vic­tims re­put­edly in­cluded all the el­derly res­i­dents of one com­mu­nity to avenge the deaths of his fa­ther and brother.

Fol­low­ing World War I, the cas­tle was given to Queen Marie in grat­i­tude for her role in uni­fy­ing Tran­syl­va­nia with the rest of Ro­ma­nia.

She be­queathed it to her youngest daugh­ter Princess Ileana. In 1948, the Com­mu­nists seized it from Ileana. In 2006, years af­ter com­mu­nism ended, the cas­tle was re­turned to Ileana’s son Dominic Haps­burg.

Might Count Drac­ula show up on Oc­to­ber 31.

Wait and see. – ANA-AP

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