Dracula Park

Guardian of Europe's borders against the Ottomans' expansion at the middle of the 15th century, Vlad Tepes, prince of Tara Romaneasca (Wallachia) between 1456-1462 and in 1476, was born in 1431 at Sighisoara. Called Kaziglu Bey by the Turks, descendant of the princely House of Basarab, Vlad Tepes succeeded to defend Wallachia's sovereignty and to keep the Ottoman armies ruled by Mahomed the 2nd at distance from the European civilization. His diplomatic abilities combined with his military resistance led to the incredible success of upholding the realm's sovereignty. Instructed in the art of war and diplomacy since his childhood, once empowered to rule over Wallachia, he supported the implementation of a rapid administrative and military reform in the region. He imposed the compulsory military service for certain social categories and effectively polished off the thieves and bandits from Wallachia by instituting the death penalty by stake-driven through their bodies (punishment of Turkish origin).

Vlad Tepes is evoked by the Romanian folklore as an honest and cruel prince. It is said that whatever value left over night in the middle of the road, its owner could find untouched the next day. Betrayal, theft, laziness and even lying found out by the prince were undisputedly punished through a rapid and implacable penalty: the stake-driven through the body.
The conquering campaign over Wallachia led by the Mahomed the 2nd, commanding an imposing and well-organized 100000-soldier army, faced the resistance of the 25000 Wallachian defenders, lead by Vlad Tepes. Renown as a good psychologist and uncommonly brave, Vlad Tepes was taken for the evil spirits in the Turkish soldiers' conscience. The Wallachian army, organized in shifts, day and night, had practically denied the Ottoman army any time to feel relief. Poisoned wells, burned forests and fields, ghostly cavalrymen striking day and night from everywhere, bunches of Turks having stakes driven through their bodies, poisoned arrows coming from nowhere are what the 100000 Turkish soldiers, led by the Mahomed the 2nd himself, have seen and felt.
Mohamed's hasty withdrawal over the Danube, memorable event in Wallachia's history, was not determined though by a decisive battle, but was the result of the panic induced by the way Vlad Tepes carried on the defense campaign. The Sultan's decision to pull back seems to have been hastened by Vlad's attempt to kill him during a night attack, when the Romanian prince leading 7000 cavalrymen had frontally attacked the Turkish camp, reaching to less than 50 meters from the sultan's tent. Even the plan of Vlad Tepes failed, the sultan was so frightened that he ordered the backdown of the whole Ottoman army over the Danube.
During the short peaceful period that followed, Vlad Tepes built a fortress on the up-course of the river Arges, at Poienari, using Turkish slaves and Wallachian noble betrayers. The fortress is practically unconquerable due to its placement on top of a hill. Its ruins can still be seen nowadays, following the 2000 steps on a wooden staircase built over the last decades.

In 1462, when a Turkish army overwhelmed Wallachia, Vlad fled to Transylvania to seek the aid of the King of Hungary. Instead of receiving the assistance he expected, Vlad Tepes was imprisoned by the Hungarian king. He remained a prisoner of Matthius Corvinus of Hungary (he himself of Romanian origin) for 12 years. In 1476, supported by prince of Moldavia, Stefan Cel Mare (Stephan the Great), Vlad Tepes returns to the throne of Wallachia, but only for a short time since he dies in a battle against the Turks, near Bucharest. It is said that Bucharest resisted against the Turks' assault for one more week just because the Romanian soldiers put his body on top of the walls, having the Ottoman army believe that Vlad Tepes is still alive...