Since ancient times, in almost all countries of the world, they have been told legends about the existence of vampires: in China, family members watched over the body of the deceased to prevent cats or dogs from attacking the corpse, which in this way turned into a vampire; the ancient Greeks and later the Romans also believed that there was one vampire woman called Lamia who seduced men to suck their blood. Beliefs of the Slavic countries tell legends of vampires, that is, of corpses apparently coming back to life, come out of the grave and suck the blood of the living.
The term vampire, the mythological being who survives by feeding on the vital essence (often blood) of other living beings, spread enormously in the early th century, thanks to various legends which spread to Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Romania and Bulgaria in particular.
- The Istrian vampire: Jure Grando - Municipality of Tinjan, Istria
- Transylvania: 4 Stages in Dracula's country
- The Highgate Vampire - London
- The Vampire Museum - Paris
- User questions and comments
The Istrian vampire: Jure Grando - Municipality of Tinjan, Istria
One of the first evidence of vampire activities dates back to 1672, in the region of Istria: the hamlet of Corridico, or Kringa, in the municipality of Tinjan (inland of Istria) is known to fans of the genre for being the country of vampire Jure Grando, made famous in Johann Weichard von Valvasor's literary work, "The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola" published in Nuremberg in 1689.
In one of the many chapters dedicated to Istria, Valvasor writes that in 1672 the Istrian farmer Jure Grando, sixteen years after his death and burial, "returned at night".
The legend: the story of Jure Grando it was also mentioned by Johann Joseph von Görres in his work "La mystique divine, naturelle et diabolique" (The divine, natural and diabolical mystic) published in Paris in 1855; the plot, however, was enriched with fanciful details, to make the story more compelling: according to Görres, Grando appeared to his wife "smiling, making various movements, as if he were happy to breathe the fresh air". He would appear to the parish priest who had buried him and to other people who, after his visit, were found dead.
One night, nine people went to the cemetery where Grando was buried, and when they opened the grave, his corpse greeted them laughing: the nine ran away in terror, only to return with a hawthorn stake, which they tried to plant in his heart: in vain, however, because the stake bounced off the vampire's body. A certain Stipan Milasich managed to behead him: the corpse gave a cry, twisted and the tomb was invaded by blood. Since then, peace returned to that quiet country, a peace that continues to reign even if the legend has it that one day or another, Jure Grando may wake up from its perennial sleep that lasted for centuries. The mystery continues ...
Transylvania: 4 Stages in Dracula's country
In the western and central part of the Romania, protected by the Carpathians, is the largest and best known region of the Romanian state, Transylvania, full of mystery, abandoned fortresses, castles that evoke legends and past stories.
Mostly known for vampire stories, Transylvania is a region rich in architectural beauties full of charm: divided into counties, its cities, built in the Baroque style, are like large medieval villages, welcoming and also economically cheaper than other European tourist resorts.
- Sighisoara: is a municipality of Romania, located in the district of Mures, in the historic region of Transylvania; founded by Saxons at the end of the th century, is the hometown of Vlad III of Wallachia, known as Vlad Tepes (the impaler), the legendary Dracula, who lured his victims into a mysterious castle and which inspired the famous novel Dracula by Bram Stocker, skillfully told by the Irish writer, who also enriched it with fascinating details but pure fantasy, hence the film version, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and interpreted by the very good Gary Oldman, in the role of the famous count.
Nicknamed "The Pearl of Transylvania", Sighisoara is a beautiful medieval-style fortress-city, one of the best preserved in Europe, and is quiet and welcoming; declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, inside its fortifications, near the Clock Tower, is the Dracula's birthplace was born and where he lived for many years and which today has become a restaurant. Those who love the thrill of mystery can stroll in the pre-shadow of the evening among the characteristic alleys of the old city, stopping in front of the stone bust of Vlad Tepes, in that square which witnessed numerous tortures and burnings for witchcraft.
- The Fortress of Poenari (or Poenari Castle): located in the municipality of Arefu (Arges District, Romania), overlooking the valley carved by the Arges river; this fortress, now in ruins, built by the boers (subjects) who later they were impaled by Vlad, can be reached by climbing a staircase of 1480 steps and is the place where Dracula's first wife committed suicide, throwing himself from the tower into the waters of the Arges river.
- Bran Castle: located in the village of Bran (near Brasov) on the ancient border between Wallachia and Transylvania; dates back to the early th century and overlooks a picturesque landscape full of mystery and history. In writing the novel, Bram Stoker was inspired by Bran Castle to describe the Dracula's castle; in reality the castle, which historically belonged to the vovoid Vlad III of Wallachia, is the Castle of Poenari, now in ruins.
- Snagov Monastery: the monastery, founded in 1408 by Mircea the Elder of Wallachia, is located 35 km north of Bucharest, on an island in Snagov Lake. It became famous in 1933, when archaeological excavations led to the discovery of a crypt later identified as the Dracula's tomb.
The Highgate Vampire - London
In the Highgate district of London is the namesake Highgate Cemetery, signed by Stephen Geary and dating back to 1839. Burial place of the aristocratic families of the Victorian era, today only the east part is in use, while the west part is more interesting, but also disturbing because it is full of mysteries and legends, like that of the Highgate vampire.
The legend: Elisabeth Siddal, wife of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1862-1828), one of the founders of the "Pre-Raphaelites" artistic movement, was buried in 1882. Afflicted with grief over the loss of his wife, in despair, he threw a book of poems dedicated to her into the coffin. Seven years later the body was exhumed but, to the dismay of those present, the body was intact, with golden red hair but much longer than when she was buried. The incident convinced the inhabitants of Highgate that there was a vampire in the cemetery and, many years later, around 1970, following apparitions of ghosts and unclear assaults near the cemetery, many graves were desecrated, made séances and found many animals slaughtered, in particular cats and foxes.
Following all this the management of the cemetery began to be of the "Friends of Highgate Cemetery", a private association that prevented satanic rites, séances and any other manifestation from being practiced inside the cemetery. Nobody was able to give a clear answer to the questions about Highgate Cemetery mysteries and, despite many skeptics, there are also those who are certain that something supernatural really happened in that place. In any case, those who want to visit it, maybe it is better that they have a small braid of garlic ... you never know!
The cemetery is divided into three levels, including Gothic tombs, statues of angels and high catacombs, reminiscent of Egyptian tombs, you can admire the beauty of the paths of the Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon, where you can breathe the romanticism of the Victorian era , the Terrace of the Catacombs and the Julius Beer Mausoleum. In addition to the characteristic architecture, the cemetery is famous for the famous people who are buried there, in particular Karl Marx (his grave is in the Park of the Hill), the writers Radclyffe Hall and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), the actor Sir Ralph Richardson, the poet Christina Rossetti, the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko and many others.
Visits to the West part of the cemetery are only possible upon reservation at "Friends of Highgate Cemetery" and only groups are accepted.
The Vampire Museum - Paris
If you are a lover of gothic romance and mystery, you cannot miss a visit to the first museum dedicated to Dracula's lineage: the Vampire Museum, opened by Jacques Sirgent after years of vampire studies. The museum is furnished in the style of old English pubs, with various reproductions, a rich library and film archive (more than three hundred). It is located in a pavilion in the Parisian suburb of Lilas, at 14 rue Jules David (it can be reached by metro, line 11 Mairie de Lilas stop).
Visits to the museum are made by reservation only, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30 to 22:00, in groups of up to ten people, who will be accompanied by the founder, Jacques Sirgent, with tales of yesterday's vampires and today; between twenty and midnight of the same days you have the opportunity to have dinner at the museum, also participating in on-demand discussions and group games.