Bistrita-Nasaud county, nestled between the peaks of the Rodnei, Caliman and Suhard Mountains in northern Romania, represents the archetypal 'Transylvania' of beetling crags, and dark forests described in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. In the novel, Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to finalise a property deal with Count Dracula at his castle in the "Borgo Pass". His journey takes him by train to the post-town of Bistritz (Bistrita) where he dines on 'robber steak' and drinks 'Golden Mediasch' wine at the Golden Krone Inn, before journeying onwards to the castle despite the warnings he receives from the locals. Most of the movies open at this point! You can stay at the inn, rather the 'Coroana de Aur' hotel, enjoy the same supper and even continue to the 'Borgo Pass'. The journey was described well, from the fruit orchards to the dark forests cloaking the mountain sides, until the silhouette of a castle appears standing boldly against the pass. But, there was no castle until the 1980s when the enterprising local tourist office erected Hotel Castle Dracula. The hotel was almost immediately renamed by order of Ceausescu, incensed at comparisons made of him with Dracula by the press in the West!
Masked balls, and candlelit banquets can be organised at this bizarre, somewhat kitsch, hotel which boasts its own crypt and cemetery. The wonderfully remote location is encircled by mountains, while sunsets viewed from the Moon Tower are memorable, as are the night-time howls of wolves which occasionally echo round the pass. Bistrita and Hotel Castle Dracula feature in most of the bespoke Dracula Tours we recommend, and also include the unique,journey by horse-drawn cart following remote forest and cart tracks to the Borgo Pass.
However, there are far more reasons to visit Bistrita-Nasaud. It encompasses some of the most beautiful, unspoilt mountain scenery in the Carpathians with picturesque, traditional villages located in the valleys and basins, ideal bases for hiking, riding or discovering their vivid tapestry of old customs, handicrafts and folklore. Myths and superstitions abound, passed on from generation to generation - listen to tales of ghosts, apparitions, witches and werewolves, or the mysterious Forest Maiden, a beautiful apparition who lures young shepherds from their flocks. Orchards cloak the lower slopes around the historic Bistrita - here you will find the finest "Tuica" (plum brandy)!