Visitors to Bran Castle in Romania might be coming to see the inspiration for iconic vampire Dracula's lair, but it's not vampires they'll find. According to the BBC, visitors to the castle are being offered free COVID-19 vaccines as part of the Romanian government's initiative to get more Romanians vaccinated. Anyone visiting the castle during a weekend in May receives the vaccine along with free entry to the castle's medieval torture instruments exhibit which features 52 such devices.
"The idea... was to show how people got jabbed 500-600 years ago in Europe," Bran Castle marketing director Alexander Priscu told Reuters.
Visitors to the castle will receive free Pfizer vaccine shots, administered by doctors and nurses wearing fang stickers on their scrubs. Romania has recorded over one million COVID-19 infections and almost 29,000 deaths since the pandemic began. The country reportedly has one of the highest levels of vaccine hesitancy in Europe and the government aims to have 10 million people vaccinated by September, hence Bran Castle's unique offering to help boost those numbers.
Officials also hope that the vaccination campaign will boost tourism to the castle, which is located in Romania's Carpathian mountains. The number of tourists to the 14th-century castle believed to be the inspiration for the castle in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, dropped during the pandemic.
Known outside of Romania as "Dracula's Castle", Bran Castle is located on the Transylvanian side of the historical border with Wallachia. The castle is linked to Vlad the Impaler, though it's unclear if he ever actually set foot in the castle where some accounts suggest Vlad the Impaler was to be imprisoned. Vlad the Impaler was the inspiration, in part, for Stoker's Dracula, though Dracula's derelict fictional castle bears no real-world resemblance to Bran Castle.
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Photo: DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images