For those who ask themselves where the country of the famous Count Dracula is, the answer comes quickly – in Borgo Pass. It is a place abounding in mysteries and stories about vampires, undead, fairies, and supernatural beings that are swarming through the forests owned by the Vampire Count.
In Borgo Pass the Irish writer Bram Stoker, author of the famous novel Dracula, imagined the dark castle of the bloody count, a place where night is never ending, and nobody comes out alive.
Thus, in order to walk with our imagination on that terrible land let’s try retracing the journey across Bistriţa-Năsăud of the main character, lawyer Jonathan Harker, who came from London to the Carpathian castle of the terrible vampire. We are starting our travel from the “Golden Crown” Hotel, the first objective described in the novel. Today, the hotel shelters the “Jonathan Harker” lounge, unique in the world, open in celebration of the Dracula novel centennial apparition.
After having some rest in the center of Bistriţa, the lawyer took the mail coach and started his way to Count Dracula’s castle in the mountains on May 4, 1873, to meet the famous vampire at midnight.
Count Dracula’s mysterious realm begins at Prundu Bârgăului. Here, at the entrance to Borgo Pass, the coach stopped because the count’s carriage was waiting for lawyer Jonathan Harker to take him to the castle. What possibly could better highlight the entrance into the mysterious realm than a church sheltering in its attic a colony of over 1,000 bats? Built in 1837 of river stone, the Prundu Bârgăului Church shelters in summer a colony of 1,000 bats, made only of females and their baby bats…
But, let’s resume the lawyer’s journey. There was only one way to the castle, starting from Pasul Bârgăului (Borgo Pass), a twisted road going up through the dark wood under the menace of sidelong cliffs and chasms. Pasul Bârgăului is situated in the Bârgău Mountains, at the border between the Bârgău Valley and
The Dornelor Depression, at a height of 1,200 m.
It abounds in dream landscapes and forests untouched by man. Here lies the Forbidden Forest as well. The legend says that on top of the Răchiţaua mountains there is a door toward the east. The door is an opening in time and space and only who has the key can open it. According to the legend, a treasure is buried.
Little by little we arrive at the castle. Situated at 1,116 m altitude at Piatra Fântânele, Dracula Castle is the only place on the earth that bears the Vampire Count’s name and dominates the large panorama of the Bârgău Mountains. It is the only castle type hotel in Romania and the only one having a graveyard in front of it. In the hotel’s basement “Dracula’s Tomb” is arranged for the brave tourists. Its construction took 7 years and was achieved after the famous book’s details. The 21 members of the London based “Dracula” Society carried brick with their hands and with the wheelbarrow. They left a document bearing their signatures hermetically closed in an empty Scottish whisky bottle. The place where this document is hidden is known only by the owner of the “Dracula” castle, who invites you to discover the mysteries at Borgo Pass.
Our steps also take us to Colibiţa – Count Dracula’s hunting place and realm of the fairies… The legend tells that after having reached the Bârgău Mountains and having built his castle, Dracula went for hunting on a full moon night and came across a group of fairies of unparalleled beauty, who were bathing peacefully in a lake sheltered from mortal eyes, well hidden in the mountains… He watched them, then he barged in on them and succeeded to catch three of them. He took them to the castle, and they became his companions. Terrified, the other fairies left the lake (Tăul) where they were bathing since times immemorial and ran into the Rodna Mountains. Today the Lake of the Fairies (Tăul Zânelor) is one of the most beautiful natural lakes. Despite his small size, the lake offers an exquisitely picturesque landscape, being surrounded by a spruce forest, excepting the northern side, where the Meadow of the Fairies (Poiana Zânelor) lies.
And there, in the Rodna Mountains, at the Stream of the Fairies (Pârăul Zânelor), Dracula followed them. One can see today the Grotto of the Fairies (Grota Zânelor), considered a genuine wonder of nature, with the most complex system of ramifications in Romania. The legend tells that the fairies were hiding their jewels there. Colibiţa is presently a resort of regional interest and one of the most beautiful areas in Bistriţa-Năsăud, with a reservoir of 270 hectares and the purest and ozone-rich air in Europe. A comparable ozone concentration can be identified only in the Alps.
Furthermore, if you are coming down the Transylvanian Bistriţa Valley (Valea Bistriţei Ardelene), don’t forget, the Castle of the Potter (Castelul Olarului)…
(From the special edition of TB 86 – „ENJOY TRANSYLVANIA!” – May/June 2019)