Vlad III, immortalized as Dracula in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, reigned as crown prince in the 1400s in what is now known as Romania, which also holds Hunedoara Castle. During Dracula's reign, the country was called Wallachia. According to Wikipedia, Vlad III's nickname of Dracula was derived from his Romanian surname ,"Drăculea". Drăculea means "Son of the dragon". Vlad's father was titled Vlad the Dragon and was a member of the Order of the Dragon created by Emperor Sigismund. Vlad III's relation to Hunedoara Castle is from his being imprisoned in it for seven years. In modern Romanian, the word "Dracul" means "the Devil". When Vlad III was alive, it also meant "dragon", and derives from Latin "Draco", or "dragon". The suffix "-lea" can be translated as "son of".
Although these stories are largely considered to be at least partially rumours, Vlad III was said to enjoy sadistic torture of his prisoners. When his father, or Vlad the Dragon battled with Turkish armies in the 1460s, he was at one point forced into the mountains where, on a mission to gain support, he was instead imprisoned in Hunedoara Castle.
He remained imprisoned in Hunedoara Castle for seven years, however after his release he was seen as an ally to those who imprisoned him. This was seen as a continuance of his cruel ways. It should also be said, however, that his subjects then and since also referred to Vlad III as a savior of Romania and its people.
Hunedoara Castle opened for public tours on June 1, 2009. It is newly under the management of Princess Ileana of Romania and her family.
The tours will include a viewing of the castle and grounds, a Medieval School for children, and the launch of new Chateau Bran wines.
Hunedoara Castle sits on a rock around which the river Zlasti flows. Reasons to visit it include many towers, interior courts, a large draw bridge, and two grand halls. The halls are named "Knight Hall" and "Diet Hall." It is easy to see why with its rich cultural heritage and its interesting architecture combine to make Hunedoara Castle quite a destination.