Haunted places in Romania
Romania can be quite a Halloween destination as legends and stories are plenty and part of this culture. If you’re into frightening stories and creepy places, there’s more than you need. Perhaps you’ve already heard about Count Dracula, the vampire from Transylvania and the Bran Castle, his residence. While it’s quite a popular destination, there are other haunted places in Romania as well that can give you the chills – some of them just a day trip from Bucharest. So here’s a list of them:
Surrounded in mystery and dark legends and perched high atop a cliff, Bran Castle is a majestic sight to see thanks to its imposing towers and turrets as well as to the myth that gave birth to Count Dracula, the vampire featured in Bram Stoker’s book. The character is thought to have been inspired by Vlad the Impaler, ruler of Wallachia and a powerful historical figure whose methods of punishing the enemies were so cruel, they created the legends on which the local tourism is based upon.
The castle is now a museum of art and furniture collected by Queen Marie and has narrow winding stairs connecting the 60 timbered rooms, some connected through underground passages. At the bottom of the hill, you can also visit a small open-air museum with traditional Romanian peasant houses (cottages, barns and water-driven machinery) from the region of Bran.
The mysterious Corvin Castle is further away from Bucharest, in the western Hunedoara and also hides some dark stories. Legends say that in the castle’s dungeon Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned for years which lead the Transylvanian ruler to go insane and develop dark thoughts, increasing his desires for blood. It was, perhaps, the beginning of his transformation into the well known Dracula. However, he wasn’t the only captive in the castle: three Turkish men were captured and forced to dig a well there by the promise of being released once they finished it and found water in it. Their bodies disappeared and were never found but the well has now water and also a warning message: “You may have water but you don’t have a heart”.
Located at the beginning of Transfagarasan road and deep into the forests, Poenari Fortress was used by Vlad the Impaler during some of his campaigns. It is adorned with impaling stakes and it’s supposed to be haunted bot by Vlad himself but by his wife. The legend goes that she had to choose between being captured by Turks or suicide. In the end, she jumped from a cliff right to her death. The site has now an eerie feeling and some people reported strange lights at night in the place she took her life. Nonetheless, the wind created odd noises within the walls of the fortress and locals blame it on the souls who found their end here.
The Devil’s Precipice
Just a day trip from Bucharest, near Ploiesti, is the village of Cosminele. It’s a place haunted by the souls of the dead protecting a buried cursed treasure. So if you’re a treasure hunter, try to break the spell of the Devil’s Precipice that hides away the treasure. However, people who are supposed to have tried this before have found themselves wandering off with no purpose dozens of kilometres away, unaware of what whacked them.
At the outskirts of Bucharest, the XVIIth-century monastery is a site of paranormal activity. Abandoned after an attack by the Turks, the Chiajna Monastery was left in ruins before it was even consecrated. Locals hurled its bell into the Dambovita river, and the only ones who found their refuge inside the cursed church were those suffering from the plague. Some say that the bell’s sound can still be heard from the water, during the full moon nights, in the memory of all those who died in between the monastery’s walls.
In the heart of Bucharest, the Cismigiu Hotel was built in the interbelic period and left in ruins in 1970. In 1990, it became the Theatre Academy’s property; the academy transformed it into a residence for students. The creepy history of the hotel started on a weekend when almost all students went home and a young girl fell down an elevator shaft. There in the darkness, she couldn’t see that she wasn’t stepping into a cabin, but rather to her untimely demise. For three hours, she screamed for help, but no one heard her. Since then, people report hearing her screams in the rooms and corridors of what is now a modern and elegant hotel.
Boldu-Creteasca Forest near Bucharest is where magic rituals keep the mysterious Witches’ Pond alive. Also known as the place where Vlad the Impaler was decapitated, this place is filled with sorcery. Witches are thought to perform their rituals there each year during the Saznienele celebration in June (a celebration worshipping the mystical fairies of the woods). Moreover, the pond never dries, never expands and neither rain nor drought affects its shape in any way. Even the animals dislike this place, as they never drink water from it.
Tucked away in Transylvania, near Cluj, The Banffy Castle is home to some unexplained paranormal activities. It is said that during World War II, the castle was set on fire by the hands of Nazi soldiers which ultimately destroyed the castle’s rich interiors. It is believed that this castle is haunted by the spirits of the soldiers who lost their lives in the fire breakout. This castle was investigated by the team of Ghost Hunters International and they confirmed the presence of the supernatural. Now, Banffy is undergoing renovation so, it will be interesting to see if the spirits remain after the reconstruction.
Iulia Hasdeu Castle
Also a day trip from Bucharest, in Campina, the Iulia Hasdeu Castle is a faux castle built in the 1890s by Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu for his deceased daughter, lost too soon at 19 years old, killed by tuberculosis, a disease that often took away young people. Her father, an important professor at the Bucharest University, historian, linguist, philologist and writer who approached all the literary genres, erected the house according to his daughter’s wishes, which he received during spiritism sessions. Quirky symbols adorn the home, and every night, Iulia Hasdeu can be heard playing the piano, to her father’s applause.
Hoia Baciu Forest
Hoia-Baciu Forest is home to unusual phenomena, odd voices, unexpected lights, strange shades and a portal that provides access to parallel universes – in other words, it’s all-inclusive. If mysterious places and paranormal activities give you the thrills, you should definitely check out this dark haunted forest from Transylvania. Just 5km from Cluj, the forest became famous after being published a story in 1968 about a UFO appearance in the area. Since then there seems to be a strange magnetic field there where the moss and grass don’t grow. There have been many disappearances and stories about strange animals like red frogs living there. Some people claim in the forest there used to be peculiar rains for only a 300m square surface and also odd lights into the sky during the night. Pretty creepy, right?
Whether you’re a ghostbuster or just in search for some thrills, Romania’s haunted places are just a part of a culture rich in legends about spirits, fairies, and dark forces. To get the maximum out of the experience of visiting these places, make sure to check out their local histories and legends accompanying these sites.