Dracula may be a fictional character but his author, Bram Stoker, was inspired by the very real character Vlad the Impaler. And archaeologists believe they have found the dungeon in which Vlad was held prisoner. It is believed Vlad and his younger brother were taken hostage by the Ottomans — and it was the violent interplay between Vlad and the Ottomans that created the man who inspired the character of Dracula.
The Tokat Castle, located in Turkey, has been undergoing restoration works. During excavation, two dungeons were discovered in the castle, one of which held Wallachian Prince Vlad III captive in the early 15th century. Two secret tunnels have been found, as well. One of the tunnels leads to the Pervane Baths and a military shelter.
Archaeologist Ibrahim Cetin, who is in charge of excavations, said, “We try to shed light on history with the structure layers we unearth.” He added that his team has found old food cubes and an open terrace, along with the military shelter and dungeons, which Cetin noted were “built like a prison.”
As for Dracula — or Vlad the Impaler — it is hard to say which dungeon he was actually held captive in, but his captivity did play a very big role in what he later became. After all, when he was first captured, he had yet to inherit the nickname of Vlad the Impaler. Back then, he was just Prince Vlad III. But he was released from the Tokat Castle after his father and brother were murdered — and it was at this point that Vlad began the bloody practice of impaling his enemies — specifically, the same Ottomans who imprisoned him and murdered his father and brother — on poles. This practice earned him the name “Vlad the Impaler.” It’s believed that Vlad killed some 80,000 people. Of the 80,000, it’s believed that 20,000 of his victims were impaled and then displayed outside the city of Targoviste as a warning to other Ottomans — a way of making them think twice before invading Vlad’s country Wallachia (now present-day Romania).
The Ottomans did think twice, and retreated at the sight.
In one incredibly lurid and bloody example of Vlad’s murderous rage, he is said to have “dined among a forest of his impaled enemies as they died, perhaps even dipping his bread in their blood,” according to The Huffington Post.
Stoker didn’t just get the idea for the character Dracula from Vlad’s sadistic, bloodthirsty life — he got the name for the character, as well. Vlad inherited the patronym of “Dracul,” which means “dragon,” from his father, Vlad II, because Vlad II belonged to something called the Order of the Dragon, which was a group who fought against the Ottoman Empire.
But to give Vlad the Impaler credit where credit is due, it’s not like he wanted to “suck your blood” like the fictional Dracula did — he just wanted to spill it and use it as a condiment.