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Visiting Dracula’s Bran Castle: Vampire tour of Transylvania! Vlad the Impaler, Romania Goth Halloween.

bran castle dracula towers

“My friend. Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you.” – Count Dracula’s invitation to Jonathan Harker, in the Bram Stoker novel.

Last Halloween, I got to live out my vampire dreams (or nightmares)… at Dracula’s castle in Transylvania!

With the support of Experience Romania, I got to come and learn about the real Vlad Dracul, a ruler whose history is wrapped up in horror mythology.

moi meme moitie dress elegant gothic lolita

For years, I had the “Goth goal” of visiting Bran Castle in Brasov, Romania. This dark fortress is associated with the bloody tales of Vlad the Impaler. 

I wore my Moi-meme-Moitie dress; the silhouette and design are straight out of Nosferatu. This is an Japanese Elegant Gothic Lolita design by Mana, who you may know from the Visual Kei bands Moi-dix-mois and Malice Mizer.

visiting bran castle romania

Keep reading for an exclusive look inside Bran Castle, including photography in areas that tourists aren’t able to access. We’ll wind up in a torture garden, and get to know the Romanian vampire. (All photos by Joey Wong.)

bucharest to brasov transylvania scenery

As you may remember, I was invited to Experience Bucharest around Halloween 2017. On one of our free days, photographer Joey Wong and I met up with our local Romanian friends, Alex and Beatrice. They kindly drove us from Bucharest to Bran Castle in the early morning.

(To get to Dracula’s castle, it’s also possible to take the train, but there are limited departure/arrival times. You can also rent a car, or hire a private driver for the trip).

When you see the dawn breaking over the misty landscape, it’s easy to understand why Romania is the land of vampire tales. 

brasov romania Wallachia

The drive from Bucharest to Brasov is a beautiful one, especially in fall when the leaves have Halloween hues. If you’re based in Bucharest, this is a perfect day trip to Transylvania. (You can also stay overnight in Brasov, if you want to spend more time in the region).

The journey to Bran Castle takes about 3-4 hours by car, depending on traffic (it’s a good idea to leave early, in case you get stuck). On the way back in the afternoon, the ride took longer.

carpathian mountains romania tourism

As we got closer, the roads became windy, and the Carpathian mountains loomed over us.

The Carpathians are a mountainous range through Central and Eastern Europe, with the largest portion in Romania. These dramatic hills are home to brown bears, wolves, lynx… and maybe some blood-sucking bats?

halloween party dracula castle bran romania

Transylvania is the central region of Romania, located north of Bucharest. Its high-contrast clouds and craggy mountains looked straight out of a horror movie. When we saw these horses under an ominous sign… we knew we must be getting closer.

strigoi romanian vampire legends

At last, we made it to Bran Castle! On their website, you can find access, admission and visitor info. When we arrived, there was a line up for tickets, which cost about 7 euro (there are senior and student discounts). Bran Castle kindly welcomed us as press, giving us permission to photograph usually-restricted areas.

Dracula Castle address: Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania

vlad the impaler dracula grave tombstone

Visitors have to first walk up a steep path to the castle, lined by dark gravestones like this one. Do Dracula’s remains lie beneath the soil?

Not quite. In fact, Bran Castle is only loosely connected to the historic Vlad the Impaler, who may have never even stepped foot here. Keep in mind that ever since the publication of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” novel, the man and myth have blurred in the public imagination. This castle is located in Transylvania (where the fictional Count lived), and has an appropriately imposing, Medieval look… what better setting to dive deep into the bloody legends? 

vlad the impaler portrait dracul

Inside, you’ll find portraits and historical information about Vlad III, also known as Vlad Tepes or Vlad Dracula. In real life, he was the second son of Vlad Dracul, the 15th century prince of Wallachia, Romania. Records show that he signed two of his letters “Dragulya” or “Drakulya” — which means “the son of Dracul.”

interior bran castle dracula

Vlad actually lived in Wallachia, the area south of Transylvania. In the late 14th century, a group of German colonists built Bran Castle in Brasov (where I’m standing). Their descendants may have wound up as Vlad’s victims, during his reign.

courtyard bran castle restairant

Although Bran castle wasn’t the primary home of Vlad, it has the “Dracula” feeling conjured by the novel and other vampire works (films, comics, you name it).

Author Bram Stoker never even went to Romania before writing his book. He based Count Dracula’s castle on Whitby Abbey in England, which I also visited.

impaling on stick romania vlad

Vlad was called “The Impaler” by the Ottomans, and was also known as the Butcher or Demon. What’s the deal with the nickname?

As the castle banners indicate, impalement was Vlad’s favorite method of execution — spearing bodies on a stake, and leaving them to die. He executed thousands in this manner, and even created a “Forest of the Impaled” with 20,000 pierced bodies. Some say Vlad enjoyed dining with his palace associates, surrounded by a circle of impaled victims.

history tour bran castle

Vlad is usually depicted as a villain, but there’s another side to the story. Many Romanians consider him a hero, and one of the country’s greatest rulers.

visit bran castle tickets admission hours

It’s important to understand the context of Vlad’s actions. As a youth, he was imprisoned by the Ottomans, and severely abused. When he took reign, his harsh punishments were a way to strengthen the central government from dissenters. Some historians interpret his cruelty as rational acts to secure the independence of Romania, as the land was surrounded by the much stronger Turks.

goths romania transylvania trip

During his reign, Vlad actually lived in Poenari Castle, a cliff-side citadel in Wallachia. You have to climb 1,480 concrete stairs to reach the top. Poenari castle is located quite a bit further from Bucharest, so I’ll have to wait until next time to visit.

real count dracula castle

Vlad the Impaler was possibly imprisoned inside Bran Castle for a few months; he was exiled and jailed multiple times during his three reigning periods. Regardless, the Transylvanian castle is sensational, and makes you feel as if you’re a character in the Dracula story.

secret tunnels dungeons vlad dracula

What dark secrets hide within these walls? Perhaps a crypt lined with coffins?

Bran Castle does have a system of secret tunnels, which weren’t discovered until later. These narrow, steep passages were built as escape routes. On regular tours, you aren’t able to go inside… but this vampire got special permission.

interior historic bran castle

In 1920, Bran Castle came into the possession of Queen Maria, the last queen of Romania. In 2009, it became open to the public as a museum and attraction. Inside the castle, you can see relics of her royal residence, including art and furniture from her personal collection.

vlad tepes impaler dracul

No wonder Queen Maria made this her special residence. The castle architecture is captivating, with winding staircases and picture windows.

romanian strigoi vampire tales

On the upper levels, you can learn about Vlad and the folk tales that inspired vampire legends. My Romanian friend Alex found his ancestor on the family tree… proof of his vampire bloodline!

I read about “strigoi,” the evil souls of the dead that kill victims by sucking their blood, and have the ability to transform into animals (forming the inspiration for modern vampire tales). If pregnant women drink cursed water or go outside without covering their heads, then Satan puts a red bonnet on them and their newborns. Unless it’s removed, the babies will transform into “strigoi” — the undead that live among us.

bran castle architecture windows

The sunlight… it burns, it burns!

Standing inside Dracula’s Castle, I realized how much the legend has inspired fashion, art and pop culture — from Lost Souls, to Interview with the Vampire, to Buffy.

brasov transylvania landscape

Through this arched window, I looked out at Transylvania. Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel turned the region into a household name associated with vampires. With a landscape like this, no wonder this is perceived as a magical, mysterious and dramatic land.

vampire bangs girl hairstyle

Similarly, we’ve all heard of the word “Nosferatu,” which refers to The Devil in modern Romanian. Photographer Joey Wong captures the spirit in this image.

sleep inside dracula's castle hotel

Can you see my reflection in the mirror? I didn’t stumble across any coffins in Bran Castle, but the entire castle had a haunted feeling (creepy nooks, squeaky staircases, four-poster beds straight out of Dracula movies).

transylvania vampire tours travel

When night falls… it’s not difficult to imagine “strigoi” flying out from these woods!

girl inside iron maiden torture device

Bran Castle also hosts rotating exhibitions. When we visited, there was a collection of torture devices used in the Middle Ages.

I felt genuinely scared, standing inside this iron maiden lined with deadly spikes. The lady’s evil smile makes matters more frightening.

vlad impaler's spike wooden impaled

I’m pointing at Vlad the Impaler’s favorite instrument. Sometimes, the stake was sharp and killed victims quickly. Other times, it was dulled and oiled, and went through the body in a way that didn’t pierce the heart — prolonging the pain and duration.

eastern europe tortune instruments

I shudder to think of what it was like, living in the time of these torture devices.

bran castle vampire fashion

What a treat to visit Castle Bran and immerse myself in the world of Vlad the Impaler. Even though it’s technically not “his castle,” I loved the sinister experience and Transylvanian setting.

count dracula romanian red wine

I leave you with some Romanian vampire souvenirs. I took these photos at Bucharest’s Henri Coandă airport; you’ll find a huge selection of Dracula-themed red wines in the shopping area before departures. I wish I could have bought them all… but I had no room in my suitcase.

dracula liqueur draquila

In addition, there’s a selection of vampiric liqueurs. Who needs tequila when you can drink Draquila?

I was intrigued by Potion of Dracula, a plum brandy or “palinka” that hails from Transylvania. The 40% proof liqueur is packaged in what looks like a magic flask, with an antique lock and keey.

conte dracula wines romania

Don’t you think the 555 should be 666? I didn’t have the opportunity to try any of these Count Dracula wines, but I did enjoy the Romanian red that I had at an Experience Bucharest networking event.

bat vampires count dracula keychains

I was tempted to pick up these cute magnets and keychains, which I found at a rest-stop during our roadtrip from Bucharest to Dracula’s Castle.

dr frank n furter doll rocky horror

How do Romanians feel about being associated with vampires? It’s a mixed bag, but many of them embrace the Vlad Draculea “bloodline” and its impact on pop culture.

Most of the airport’s souvenirs had a vampire theme, including stuffed toys and “Vladut’s Story” plums in chocolate cream. There was even a plush of Tim Curry’s character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, who hails from”Transsexual Transylvania!”

romania vampire dracula toys souvenirs

I guess he’s Count Chocola for a reason… quite a few of the Dracula gifts were chocolates. Love the coffin figure as well.

romania halloween club vila bran

A million thank yous to Experience Romania for the best Halloween ever. I loved exploring the country, and am dying to come back and see more.

dracula gothic travel tourism

Whether he’s a folk hero or fanged horror villian, Dracula has captured the imagination of millions worldwide. At Bran Castle, you get to become part of the legend.

So I leave you with a quote by Bram Stoker’s Count: “Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”

(And if you’re hungry for more bloody tales, here are all my travel posts about Bucharest and Romania!)

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Alternative Bucharest: a hip, street art walking tour! Rick & Morty Romania mural, travel influencers press trip.

bucharest grad na cinema capitol

Dark greetings from Bucharest, Romania! As you can see from my vampire fangs top, I was excited to be in the land of Dracula for the first time.

In Part 1 of my Bucharest series, I shared a Gothic photoshoot in a graveyard, and my speech at Experience Romania conference. This event invited travel influencers / bloggers / writers from around the globe, to discover the best of this Eastern European nation.

During the three-day event, the volunteers organized optional activities — including small-group walking tours led by Urban Adventures.

ombre gradient undercut hair haircut

Photographer Joey Wong and I signed up for the “Alternative Tour of Bucharest,” a three-hour walk that let us discover street art, emerging artists, and abandoned buildings in this beautiful city.

Our guide took us to historical gems like the Grad Na Capitol Cinema / Summer Theatre. It opened in 1912, but was damaged by a 1977 earthquake and then abandoned. Thankfully, the theater is now being re-vamped. I was glad to see the building maintain its classic arches and carvings, while looking to the future with alien-like street art.

(My hair got a makeover as well… love my slasher synthwave undercut by Chad Evans at Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver, Canada.)

vampire girl outfit fashion clothes

Outfit of the Day: Since I was going to be in Dracula’s homeland, I couldn’t resist picking up this bloody vampire fangs cut-out top from H&M’s Halloween collection. This was only available during spooky season, but you can find a similar style vampire shirt here.

My long leather skirt is by Erbert Chong. It’s similar to this skirt, and this faux leather version. The sunglasses are Balenciaga.

rick and morty mural, house art

The sun was shining (in late October!), and Bucharest’s walls were a rainbow of street-art… The perfect conditions for a photoshoot.

I’m standing in front of one of my personal favorites. Who knew Romania had Rick and Morty mural? (This is the Adult Swim cartoon that follows genius scientist Rick and his not-too-swift grandson Morty on misadventures throughout the universe.)

urban adventures bucharest tour guide

The Alternative Tour is one of the many travel experiences offered by Urban Adventures Bucharest. (You may recall how I loved their underground tour of Athens, Greece.)

Once again, we had an enthusiastic, knowledgeable young guide who showed us Bucharest’s hidden and offbeat sides.

underground street art tour bucharest

Our guide Elena pointed out works by local creators, which you can spot on walls all throughout the city. This adorable pig-puppy creature is by AEUL. 

romanian pretzel romania covrig

Urban Adventures always incorporates local flavors into their tours. At the start, Elena handed us each a “covrig,” or Romanian pretzel to try. A bit like the simit I had in Istanbul, this is a delicious fresh-baked bread topped with poppy or sesame seeds. No wonder it’s a favorite snack among locals.

rick sanchez morty murals graffiti

“Quick Morty, **** did another one!” Looks like the drooling Rick Sanchez made a stop in Bucharest, between his space-flights to alien galaxies.

(If anyone can decipher the name of the artist who made this Rick & Morty Romanian mural, please let me know in the comments. Wubalubadubdub!)

vampire fangs lips shirt h&m

I was pleasantly surprised by Bucharest’s street art, which is colorful, edgy and well-executed. Urban Adventures took us to this stretch of wall with panels by different artists.

(If you’re digging my sunglasses, see more below)

hipster bucharest romania

A safe space for teens, with heavy metal upside-down crosses… rock on.

h & m halloween shirts tops dracula

Call me the Queen of Pentacles. (All photography by Joey Wong.)

bucharest street art graffiti

Romanian street art gets an A+ from me. The paintings on this wall were beautifully rendered.

h&m vampire cut out shirt

Even the graffiti tags around Bucharest add a vibrant energy to the city. (My black jacket is faux fur, as always.)

bucharest woman big mural sweet damage crew

The artists do a fantastic job at incorporating the natural landscape into their works. One of the most iconic Bucharest murals is this one by Sweet Damage Crew (Point Art Space, on Eremia Grigorescu street). It spans the side of an old residential building, and creates the illusion of a tree growing out of the painted trunks!

abandoned buildings ruins bucharest

Our guide showed us the exteriors of a few abandoned residences, which are a common sight around Bucharest. These crumbling urban ruins are fascinating examples of “beautiful decay,” which is the topic of another Urban Adventures walking tour.

h and m vampire top sweater halloween

I think I “dressed for the occasion,” wouldn’t you say?

Vampire cut-out shirt by H&M, similar to this top. Leather skirt is similar to this one, as well as this vegan leather version. My shoes are similar to these leopard print TUK creepers.

💖 If you’re looking for Gothic / alternative clothes like mine, click here. 💖

weird bizarre strange romania

You know you’re in the lair of Count Dracula… when a pedestrian walk sign becomes a vampire-hunter holding a wooden stake!

Speaking of monsters… it appears Bucharest has been infested by baby aliens with toes for limbs.

alien baby street art character bucharest

These little guys are hanging out and waving to you from various vantage points. They’re creepy-crawling over this hipster warehouse.

bucharest public art installations

Bucharest’s creative street art even has 3D components. I noticed a morbid noose hanging down, next to a sign that says The Void. 

equestrian statue of Carol I bucharest horse

In addition to modern urban art, we also got a taste of Romanian history. Elena took us to Revolution Square, framed by a statue of King Carol I riding a horse.

She pointed out bullet holes and fire damage on buildings, caused during the Revolution of 1989 that overthrew the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. Quite the moment to stand here, and see the balcony where Ceausescu gave his last speech. 

romanian fashion blogger, clothing

Is that… a speared, burned potato? An egg on a skewer?

It’s actually the Memorial of Rebirth: erected in 2005 to commemorate the people’s sufferings during the 1989 Romanian Revolution. Many complained that the pillar was too abstract to convey the meaning of the memorial.

Memorial of Rebirth bucharest pierced statue

In 2012, someone showed his/her frustration by throwing up a balloon of red paint, which stained the pillar. The “dripping blood of the pierced potato” remains there today… and adds a vampire vibe, if you ask me!

Bucharest’s architecture is full of enticing Gothic elements. These spooky faces are carved above windows and doors, to scare away evil spirits including strigoi (the blood-sucking dead that inspired the story of Dracula!)

gothic bucharest statues

This devilish, horned face in a circular plate caught my attention.

satanic goth romania

Someone gave this creature an orange eyeshadow makeover. Classic architecture meets glam rock: I’m into it.

h&m cut out top shirt vampire

Such a great way to see Bucharest’s hip, underground culture — and with a group of fellow travel bloggers / journalists / vloggers. Very grateful to Experience Bucharest for organizing this influencers press trip, which included three days of food, parties, tours and networking activities.

bucharest public parks gardens

I had the wrong image of Romania as a dark, somewhat unfriendly “Soviet / Communist” place. Bucharest reversed my expectations entirely. The city has a contemporary, cosmopolitan, European feel; much of the architecture is inspired by French and classical styles.

I was especially delighted by Bucharest’s public parks and gardens. They’re lush and beautifully designed — I couldn’t think of a better place to relax outside on a bright day.

black vampire stake crucifix

However, to my great pleasure… Dracula lurks in the shadows! I enjoyed seeing Goth elements like this black crucifix door handle to an Eastern European church. So death metal.

vampire dracula nail art halloween nails

As a “Dracula aficionado,” I got vampire nail art to match the theme of my journey. I spy a bat, coffins, fangs, bloody gradients, the evil Count, a skull… Bravo to Glam Nail Studio (award winning Japanese nail salon in Vancouver, Canada) for the intricate designs! These gel nails were painted by hand, by owner Keiko Matsui.

(By the way, feel free to Pin any of my photos to Pinterest. Just link back to my blog, and I’m @lacarmina on Pinterest.)

bucharest architecture school Ion Mincu University

Our final stop: a peek inside Bucharest’s architecture school (UAUIM, Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism). Founded in 1952, the building has a modern design with a winding central staircase, and light fixtures reminiscent of honeycomb.

bucharest street style hipsters

Urban Adventures filled us in on a little secret… the back patio / rooftop area is decorated with giant murals. The helix and mathematical themes fit in well with school of architecture.

Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism romania

I relate to the little emo black cloud. Aren’t these Romanian artists talented?

h and m fashion blogger outfit halloween

My blood-dripping fangs shirt hints at only one aspect of Bucharest. I was glad to discover that this is one bright, artistic, hipster city.

bucharest tour company guide

Thanks to Elena and Urban Adventures Bucharest for the engaging underground tour. They also offer tours with food tastings, biking, dark side legends, history, and much more.

bucharest artisan Coffee Shop t-zero

A few of us were craving caffeine, so we went to hang out at T-Zero Coffee Shop. A delight to sip a flat white, beneath these spooky hanging mannequins (they have a Saw horror movie vibe).

I wanted to know if Bucharest had a weird, hipster, underground side — and was pleased with everything I found.

experience bucharest travel tourism party

Cheers to Experience Bucharest and all the volunteers who made this tourism event possible. They brought in a hundred travel / digital media leaders from around the world, to see what Romania has to offer. Shout out to S-Club Bucharest and Nomad SkyBar for hosting two of the group dinners and parties.

vampire fangs coffin gel nails designs

It was a dream to finally come to Romania and sink my claws into the vampire legends. Next, I’ll share stories of Vlad the Impaler, and a visit to Bran Castle in Transylvania.  

rick morty cartoon themed house mural

“Mortyyy!” I hope my street art walk revealed an unexpected side of Bucharest. Now it’s your turn to travel here, and “get schwifty” with Rick Sanchez!

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I spoke at Experience Bucharest conference! Travel influencers Romania tourism event, Bellu Cemetery vampire fashion.

gothic vampire japanese fashion goth

This little vampire had the best Halloween ever. I got to visit the ultimate Gothic destination… Bucharest, Romania! 

Since I was a teen, I imagined myself haunting Romania’s cemeteries. This dream became reality, thanks to the hard-working team at Experience Bucharest — who invited me to speak at their October 2017 travel and tourism conference.

designer vampire cape dracula

Over the course of several days, I got to meet dozens of fellow travel bloggers, influencers and industry professionals. We experienced the best of Bucharest through immersive activities (and some stayed on to see more parts of the country with Experience Romania).

Needless to say, I had the time of my life. I’m so excited to share these stories from the land of Transylvania –– starting with a waltz through Bellu Cemetery in my Japanese vampire cape. (All photography by Joey Wong.)

experience bucharest conference bloggers

For a long time, Romania has been an overlooked destination. However, the tide is turning thanks to Experience Bucharest / Experience Romania, the largest independent project to promote tourism in this fascinating country. The passionate team of volunteers invited 100 top travel bloggers, vloggers, digital influencers and media to discover Bucharest’s many attractions, as well as take part in a day-long conference.

Above, I’m with Tudor Maxim (founder and one of the chief organizers) and Jeanette Ceja (travel TV reporter and expert), who spoke on the social media panel along with me.

moi meme moitie gothic lolita egl dress

The conference took place at the Novotel Hotel Bucharest, which also hosted my stay. It’s located by Old Town, with a balcony that had this lovely view of the city’s classic architecture.

Hair: My new purple/red/blue ombre haircolor is by Chad Evans at Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver, Canada. He cut my bangs into a vampire V, and did a fishtail braid in the back. So happy with this new hairstyle!

Outfit details: I wore Gal Stern tights with a silver skull pattern, Alex Streeter pearl necklace, Sleevey Wonders sheer sleeves, and a Moi-meme-Moitie graveyard dress (designed by Japan’s Elegant Goth Lolita icon, Mana of the bands Moi-dix-Mois and Malice Mizer).

travel influencers panel event discussion

I spoke at the “The Future of Tourism in Romania” conference, which  brought together travel professionals from all around the world. This Eastern European country has modernized and opened up to visitors especially since 2007, when it joined the EU.

The local tourism organizers first shared success stories of tourism in Romania, highlighting the increasing interest of travelers in Sibiu (historical city in Transylvania), Mamaia (beach and resort destination on the Black Sea), Bucovina (scenic historic region on the slopes of the Carpathian mountains) and other areas.

experience romania conference speech

Next, I stepped onto the Experience Romania stage to speak about “Best international practices in tourism and social media.” I was a speaker on this social media panel along with leading travel Instagrammers Altug Galip and Laiza Souza, and Jeanette Ceja who comes from a journalism background.

For about an hour, we answered questions from the audience and shared personal advice on topics related to travel, digital media, press trips, sponsorships and tourism trends. It was fantastic to hear everyone’s perspectives from their various backgrounds, and have a conversation with an audience of hundreds who are passionate about traveling. 

 

I put together a few clips of my Q&A answers during the travel blogger panel. You can see the video above and here.

experience bucharest press trip romania tourism

Many thanks to the Travel Massive Romania volunteers and local businesses for welcoming us bloggers, and showing us the best of Bucharest!

We got to go on walking tours of the city, try various restaurants… I’ll be showing you much more of my explorations soon.

japanese elegant gothic fashion lolita

I wore Gal Stern tights, Alex Streeter accessories, Sleevey Wonders under-sleeves and a Moi-meme-moitie dress (the wind gave my skirt and hair a boost!).

More photos of this look at the end of this post, but first…

bellu cemetery bucharest romania

Is there any better place to wear a vampire cape… than in the land of Dracula?

I transformed into a bat and flew to Bellu Cemetery (part of the Bucharest Urban Adventures “Darkside Tour”). This graveyard, officially known as Șerban Vodă, is the largest and most celebrated one in the city.

romanian coffin dracula tour

Bellu Cemetery was particularly atmospheric during Halloween season, with autumn leaves on the dramatic coffins.

Address and access: Șoseaua Olteniței 3-5, București, Romania. If you’re traveling by subway, get off at the Eroii Revolutiei metro stop (two stops from Universitate Station in Old Town). Entry is free, and the graveyard is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.

vampire dracula graveyard fashion outfit

I got to live out my Dracula fantasies in this photoshoot, surrounded by wooden stakes and dark tombstones. 

Outfit details: I’m wearing my Black Peace Now designer cape from Japan, and a Moi-même-Moitié dress. 

Șerban Vodă cemetery bucharest

The cemetery is located on a 54-acre plot of land, donated by Baron Barbu Bellu (hence the name). Many of the graves date back to the 1850s, when the Romanian graveyard was founded.

My friends and I enjoyed strolling through the many rows of tombstones, some with interesting and eerie statues.

putin gravestone tombstone tomb

We came across a memorial to someone named Putin, featuring two Sphinx-women carrying a globe on their backs. (Edit – actually, this actually translates to ‘a little’ and has a spiritism spooky story associated with it… see the first comment at the bottom for the history.) On the right, I half-expected a vampire to rise out of this thorny black coffin!

Many famous Romanians lie beneath the soil including writers, gymnasts and astronomers. Two of the most famous residents are the national poet Mihai Eminescu, and playwright / humorist Ion Luca Caragiale.

creepy scary bucharest underground

Count Dracula may have been imagined by Ireland’s Bram Stoker, but Romanians have long-established legends about the dead rising from the grave. According to the local folklore, these “strigoi” crave fresh blood and can transform into other animals, as well as turn humans into ghouls.

vampire fashion editorial outfit post

Nosferatu vibes… When you’re standing in Bellu Cemetery, it’s easy to understand why Romanian vampire legends have captured the imagination of millions worldwide.

cross tombstones bellu graveyard bucharest

I love seeing how nature enhances the beauty of the chains and crosses. The leaves add a splash of blood-red to these resting grounds.

weird bizarre alternative bucharest

When night falls, who knows what might rise from these coffins?

(Of course, I also visited Bran Castle in Transylvania, associated with Vlad the Impaler… there’s a giant article to come out soon about it.)

romanian cemetery, graveyard

Even if you aren’t captivated by vampire stories, you should spend time wandering in Bellu Cemetery. The local history, art and architecture are fascinating to behold here.

vampire v shaped bangs hairstyle

My V-bangs haircut and Black Peace Now cape helped me get into the spooky spirit. Bucharest’s graveyard is truly a Goth dream.

cat on coffin, graveyard

We saw several cats living among the dead. (Dracula’s fellow creatures of the night.)

dracula vampire fashion, cape

Vampira vibes, in front of one of the largest and most elaborate mausoleums in Bellu graveyard. It belongs to Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, a 19th century Romanian politician and lawyer.

romanian goths, gothic attractions bucharest

Such a pleasure to tour this necropolis with my Romanian Gothic friends, Beatrice and Alex.

vampire travel tourism bucharest

In love with the historic architecture and dark decay of the mausoleums.

romania ghosts, srigoi legends

Most of the burial ground is Eastern Orthodox, with well-tended graves topped with crucifixes and angel statues.

vampire hairstyle hair color dye

“Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell / But every night I see the rubbery things / Black, horned, and slender, with membraneous wings / And tails that bear the bifid barb of hell.” – H.P. Lovecraft, “Night-Gaunts.”

bucharest haunted cemetery tombs

This photospeaks for itself… Bucharest’s Bellu Cemetery is one of the most beautiful I’ve visited.

halloween bucharest romania costumes

You can come here on your own, or join the Bucharest Urban Adventures Dark Side walking tour. It also takes you to other eerie parts of the city, including a serial killer’s alleyway and bloody buildings from the Communist era.

bucharest subculture, gothic goths

“To walk with me you must die to your breathing life and be reborn to mine.” – Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel

bucharest darkside tour urban adventures

Bellu Graveyard is tended by citizens, rather than the government. Many locals come here to leave flowers and offerings, and maintain the tombs in good condition.

japanese goth vampire fashion

Although this is a huge plot of land at 54 acres, the graveyard has been filled up over the past century and half. The paths between the rows are narrow, which make you feel close to the dead (or undead?)

designer black vampire cape

As you can see, Bucharest was everything this Goth girl imagined it to be… and far more.

experience bucharest organizers, event

I’m very grateful to the Experience Bucharest family for bringing me to their hometown, and having me take part in the conference’s 2nd Edition! (Above, with the lovely Anda Maxim who worked hard on the program, along with the other team members.)

Some of the invited bloggers stayed for an extra two weeks, and toured all around the country with Experience Romania. I’ll have to return soon to see more.

travel bloggers instagramers influencers conference

One my favorite parts of Experience Bucharest? Meeting dozens of fabulous travel storytellers, each with a unique niche and medium. (Facebook Live, LGBT, comedy videos, history blogs, desserts, you name it).

We hit it off with our shared love of travel; it’s such a joy to connect with others who walk a similar path. I left feeling inspired, and am sure I’ll meet up with many of these new friends somewhere in the world.

skull choker pearl necklace

I leave you with some close-ups of my jewelry. My Morbid Debutante white skull and pearls necklace is by Alex Streeter (who created the pentagram Angel Heart ring, most recently worn by Marilyn Manson on the cover of several music magazines).

vampire nail art, yohji yamamoto bracelet

My vampire nails were bloody perfect for the occasion. Dripping blood, bats, Dracula, fangs, coffins and skulls, rendered by hand in unbelievable detail.

As always, these gel nails are the work of Keiko Matsui at Glam Nail Studio in Vancouver. You can see a close-up of the nail art here on my Instagram, and I’ll post more images soon. (My bracelet cuff is vintage Yohji Yamamoto.)

dark red blue ombre haircolor

So thankful to Experience Romania / Bucharest for having me come to give a talk on the social media panel, and capture these stories and photos for you. (All photography by Joey Wong.)

bucharest haunted cemetery tours

“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” – Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

asian vampire japanese girl portrait

This is only the first bite of Bucharest. Many more travel tales to come, including a visit to Bran Castle, and alternative street art tour. 

What are your impressions of Romania so far? Have you ever thought of visiting? If there was a land for Goths… I think it would be here!

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