We’ve all built castles and fortresses as kids, out of sand, snow, plastic or wooden bricks. There was just something about them, the sense of security, the grand design, the notion that you could be a lord or knight. We don’t get many authentic castles here in the states, so I went to “the old country” Europe, to look for some.
My grand backpacking adventure took me to Romania in the fall of last year and gave me the opportunity to go see some of the places associated with the figure of horror and mystery that is Count Dracula. He was actually a 15th-century nobleman, ruler of Wallachia, part of what is Romania today. He’s real story takes me to his hometown of Sighișoara, where I took a break at the first cafe I came upon, to do some frontend developing, so money would continue to flow for my adventure. Not quite knights work, but in the shadow of the twelfth-century citadel, one could at least feel like an internet warrior.
Working a long night I got some sleep and in the morning began to fully appreciate the interconnection of the ancient and the modern that this town gave me a sense of. Walking the medieval streets, but never losing your wi-fi connection is a real commendation for the locals. Rare are the places in the world where one get’s the sense of a preserved medieval world.
It is precisely that authentic medieval feeling that makes its special and believable when you visit the Middle Ages Fair that they organize. Looking at sword smiths, carpenters, and other craftsmen I remember the importance of keeping that manual skill and artistry alive in a digital age. It would really be a waste for such beauty and simplicity of design to disappear. Again the modern also blended in, the sounds of thematic rock and metal music blended with authentic medieval sounds perfectly.
The beauty of the buildings preserved perfectly took my breath away, and it’s no wonder that UNESCO included the town on its World Heritage list. I was actually only saddened to learn that Vlad The Impaler did not spend a lot of time in the city, he was born there, but that was pretty much it. His capital and the city where he spent most of his time was Targoviste, which deserves its own article for another day.