Recently, travel website Big Boy Travel published a list of the top medieval cities in Europe, and the Transylvanian city of Segesvár was featured in the 12th slot.
Located today in what is today the middle of Transylvania, Segesvár has a long history stretching back millennia. Known as Sighisoara in Romanian, Schäßburg in German, and Stenarum (and later Castrum Sex) in Latin, the city has witnessed medieval sieges, plague, royal elections, and revolutionary battles.
At the top of the travel site’s list is, unsurprisingly, Prague. Other cities higher on the list include Rothenburg, Mont Saint Michel, Edinburgh, and Siena, while Segesvár managed to beat out Nottingham, Rhodes, Avila, and Nuremburg.
In their description of Segesvár/Sighisoara, Big Boy Travel heavily emphasized the town’s mythical links to Dracula, title character of the world-famous vampire novel penned by Scottish novelist Bram Stoker. The travel site wrote that the city is
Home to Peles Castle and Bran Castle of Dracula folklore. While Vlad the Impaler isn’t really connected with the Bran Castle, the village is still mystical as he was born here. Vlad Tepes, known as Vlad the Impaler, was born at a home in Sighișoara’s Citadel Square in 1431 where is family lived for 4 years before moving to their castle in Târgoviște.
Between Sighișoara and Bucharest are many more Dracula sights like Vlad’s former Princely Royal Court Royal inside the ruins of Târgoviște Castle where he ruled from in the 1300s and famously impaled people on stakes, his high-perched Poenari Fortress in Walachia, and the Old Princely Court in Bucharest where he kept his prisoners.
Interestingly, while Bram Stoker himself never visited the city, his book, and the countless imitations it has inspired, have provided an important tourism boost to Segesvár. As the Irish Times pointed out in a 2014 article, “locals regard Stoker as a hero who has probably done more for the country’s tourist industry than anybody else.”
The average traveler (or average person in general) has no idea whatsoever about important figures in Transylvanian, Hungarian, and Romanian history, such as János Hunyadi, his son King Matthias, the revolutionary Prince Ferenc Rákóczi, or even about the ‘historical’ Dracula himself, Vlad Tepes. They do, however, know about Dracula the book, and about vampires; and while this could be interpreted as an example of touristic ignorance, it has sparked interest in one of Transylvania’s most important medieval cities. Ironically enough, then, it is the myth of the blood-sucking vampire that is breathing new life into Segesvár today.
You can view Big Boy Travel’s full list of the top 25 “Best Medieval Cities” here.
Via bigboytravel.com, szekelyhon.ro, The Irish Times, and Wikipedia
Images via brinzan.com and…