Bram Stoker's character, Dracula, is a Transylvanian Count with a castle located high above a valley perched on a rock with a flowing river below in the Principality of Transylvania.
This character is often confused with Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), sometimes known as Vlad Dracul, who was a Walachian Prince with a castle, now in ruins, located in the Principality of Wallachia. Because Bran Castle is the only castle in all of Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker's description of Dracula's Castle, it is known throughout the world as Dracula's Castle. Chapter 2, May 5 of "Dracula" describes the Count's castle as ". . . on the very edge of a terrific precipice . . . with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm [with] silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests."
Bram Stoker never visited Romania. He depicted the imaginary Dracula's castle based upon a description of Bran Castle that was available to him in turn-of-the-century Britain. Indeed, the imaginary depiction of Dracula's Castle from the etching in the first edition of "Dracula" is strikingly similar to Bran Castle and no other in all of Romania.
In the villages near Bran, there is a belief in the existence of evil spirits called ghosts or "steregoi" (a variant of "strigoi"). Until half a century ago, it was believed that there existed certain living people - "strigoi" - who were leading a normal life during the day but at night, during their sleep, their souls left their bodies and haunted the village tormenting people in their sleep. These evil spirits haunt their prey from midnight until the first cockcrow, when their power to harm people faded. "The undead [i.e., ghosts, vampires] suffer from the curse of immortality," writes Stoker, "they pass from one period to another, multiplying their victims, augmenting the evil in the world..." The Dracula character derives from these local myths.
Visitors to Bran Castle should make the distinction between the historic reality of Bran and the character of the Count in Bram Stoker's novel. Dracula exists in the imagination.