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Exploration of Dracula' s chamber underneath Castle Hill, Budapest, Hungary

Carefully I took step by step in the dark. In the beginning it was lightening around in the underground labirinth, but longer inside it became darker and spookier. I could hear strange sounds and observed damp rose up. I ventured some more steps, and finally I came upon a sign that stated I was now standing in the cell that held Dracula.

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Photo. A winged demon marking the cell where Dracula where prisoned. He was held in captivity in the 15th century by Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus.

In the end of April this year I followed Dracula`s footprints around in Romania. Now I was following his footprints in Hungary. I become pretty aware of that I was in a historical "room". I got really excited and my heart pumped faster. On the ground in front of me I could observe a large slab bearing the name “Dracula” carved into the marble. At the head of the slab is a winged demon crouching upon a ball. It’s a marker for a tomb without a body since the actual burial place of Dracula’s remains is a mystery to this day. I noticed that one of the the Demon`s wings was broken. Perhaps this had a symbolic meaning.

Arose of the legend of Dracula
The Irish author Bram Stoker made Dracula famous through his Gothic horror novel in 1897. Stoker came across the name Dracula in his reading on Romanian history, and chose this to replace the name "Count Wampyr" originally intended for his villain. Dracula or Vlad, was born in 1431 in Transylvania into a noble family. His father was called "Dracul," meaning "dragon" or "devil" in Romanian because he belonged to the Order of the Dragon, which fought the Muslim Ottoman Empire. "Dracula" means "son of Dracul" in Romanian. Therefore young Vlad was "son of the dragon" or "son of the devil." Scholars believe this was the beginning of the legend that Dracula was a vampire.
But was not impaled – a method of  horrifying torture and death, that Count Dracula chose to give thousands of people.

There is a secret world beneath the Budapest
Buda's curvy hills are rich with secret labyrinths, hidden bunkers and caving adventures. There are up to 200 caves in total. The underground labyrinth is about 6 miles long and the part, which can be visited, is one mile. Buda Castle sits on the Castle Hill on the Buda side of the Danube in district I. It is one of the oldest part of the city though the present look is quite recent due to the many reconstructions following wars and fires. The Labyrinth is situated in the complex of caves and cellars beneath Castle Hill. The underground labyrinth system served as a large shelter and hospital during World War II, but the Turks also used it back in the 16th century, mainly for military purposes. Remains dating back to the Turkish era confirm that part of the Labyrinth was also used as a harem.

Dracula prisoned in Hungary
In the 15th century the Labyrinth gave home to a prison and it's most famous prisoner was Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula, held in captivity by Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus. According to Wikipedia, Vlad and Matthias Corvinus spent five weeks in autumn of 1462 negotiating alliances and battle plans at Braşov. After believing he had gained Hungarian support for his crusade against the Ottomans, a confident Vlad started on his way home to Wallachia. Unbeknownst to him, there was an ambush waiting for him at Castle King's Rock, a fortress about six kilometers north of Rucăr, barely inside the Wallachian state. On the 26th November, Vlad was captured by Matthias Corvinus' own men and spirited away to Hungary.

Neither his contemporaries nor modern day scholars can say why exactly Matthias Corvinus shifted his loyalties and betrayed Vlad. Relatively recent research volunteers a possible explanation, though: In the early 1460s, the Hungarian king became distracted by the possibility of receiving the title of Holy Roman Emperor, and effectively tried to end the anti-Ottoman crusades in Eastern Europe. To focus on gaining power in Central Europe, he abandoned the Balkans to the Turks, a hasty and incriminating move for a supposed crusader-king. In order to justify his actions, he ordered Vlad's arrest, claiming that the Wallachian prince was actually in league with the Turks; therefore, the entire area was undeserving of his protection.

Vlad was imprisoned at the Oratea Fortress located at today's Podu Dâmboviței village. A period of imprisonment in Visegrád near Buda followed. The exact length of Vlad's period of captivity is open to some debate, though indications are that it was from 1462 until 1470. Diplomatic correspondence from Buda seems to indicate that the period of Vlad's effective confinement was relatively short, his release occurring around 1466 when he married Ilona Szilágyi. Radu's openly pro-Ottoman policy as voivode probably contributed to Vlad's rehabilitation. Moreover, Ștefan cel Mare, Voivode of Moldavia and relative of Vlad intervened on his behalf to be released from prison as the Ottoman pressure on the territories north of the Danube was increasing.

---------- Exploration of Dracula' s chamber - the dark legend of the Buda Castle Labyrinth in Budapest, Hungary.

The labyrinth has functioned both a prison and as a torture chamber. In the 15th century, its darkest chamber held its most infamous prisonar — Vlad Tepes, better known as “Dracula" from Romania. The Labyrinth is situated in the complex of caves and cellars beneath Castle Hill. Archaeological evidence points to inhabitants living down the caves from pre-history right up to the Middle Ages, but apart from offering shelter, these caves hold a darker history in the years that followed. The story about Dracula is one of the dark stories. Furthermore the underground labyrinth system has served as a large shelter and hospital during World War II, but the Turks also used it back in the 16th century, mainly for military purposes.

Dracula's prison and the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is part of the natural cave system under Castle Hill. It's shown signs of being inhabited as far back as prehistoric times, with people living there as late as the 11th and 12th centuries. Caves here have since functioned as wine cellars and masonry mines, but come wrapped in curious myths.

Coming up more.

The duration of Dracula’s stay in the subterranean chamber is uncertain. Some believe he was there over 10 years, others say it was for a shorter time, and whether or not he was tortured is a secret kept within the walls. However, after Dracula’s release, he became infamous for his impaling and torturous acts, clearly impacted by his time in prison.

In this wide spooky labrinth I assume therr are many spirits from the terrible past. I am glad I didn`t bump into Dracula`s ghost here. Since he problably not died there, I believe his ghost could be pretty much alive elsewhere. Perhaps in Snagov in Romania? However, I heard about a ghost wandering here called the “Black Count” and I wonder about this could be Dracaula?

Stein Morten Lund, 15th July 2015

Additional information
Read the article "Following Dracula`s footprints in Romania".

Visegrád is a small castle town in Pest County, Hungary. It is north of Budapest on the right bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend. It had a population of 1,864 in 2010. Visegrád is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and the medieval citadel. Visegrád is 40 km north of Budapest, where the Danube meanders though the Börzsöny and Visegrád hills with a sharp turn.

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