Hunting for Dracula study tour

IDS 1151
January 2014
Drs. Robert Kachur & Kevin McIntyre

Click here for predeparture materials and official McDaniel College paperwork.


Course materials




Foldable tour brochure

Dracula links

The Historical Dracula
Journal of Dracula Studies
Bram Stoker's Dracula e-novel
Vlad Ţepeş Bio
Dracula vs. Vlad Ţepeş
Romanian Tourist Board
Bulgaian Tourist Board
Turkey Travel Planner
Elizabeth Kostova's site


Course information

In this course, students retrace the steps of Dracula and the people he hunts (and is hunted by) in two vampire novels: Bram Stoker's classic Dracula (1897) and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian (2005), a provocative re-imagining of the Dracula legend set in the 20th century. Stoker's novel follows a group of British people as they encounter Dracula in Romania and their native England. Kostova's The Historian follows three generations of scholars as they search for Dracula's secret tomb and library in Eastern Europe. Both authors base the character of Dracula on Vlad Dracula/Tepes, the infamous 15th-century Romanian warlord.


On this tour, we will visit three locations prominent in these novels and the historical Dracula's life: Romania, England, and Istanbul, Turkey. Like the two novels we will study, the course will be as much about history---especially the history of imperialistic conquest and crosscultural tensions---as it is about vampires. We will examine the medieval clash between Islam and Christianity in Southeastern Europe, in which Vlad Tepes played a central role, and the impact of which is still felt in the modern world. We will also consider how scholars interpret and evaluate historical records generated by authors on different sides of crosscultural conflicts. Finally, we will examine the role that literature plays in representing and even shaping history, as well as our experiences as travelers. Is it possible to find the "real" Dracula, the "real" Transylvania, or even the "real" Victorian London, once they are fictionalized in a powerful novel?


And of course there will be vampires, too.


Text(s):  Dracula, by B. Stoker; The Historian, by E. Kostova.

Prerequisites:  There are no academic prerequisites for this course. Students must be in good academic standing with McDaniel College and in possession of a valid passport.


Pre-departure requirements:  All participants are required to attend a mandatory orientation session prior to departure. In addition, students will need to acquire or demonstrate possession of health insurance with foreign coverage and submit health and contact forms and a liability release prior to 15 December.

Evaluation:  While abroad, students will keep a journal reflecting on what you have seen and how it relates to both Dracula and The Historian. Punctuality and deportment will, in negative cases, affect one's grade.  Grades will be assigned according to the following weighting scheme:

Journal:  65%

Deportment:  35%


Punctuality: As per the January term policy contract prepared by the International Studies office, "[p]unctuality is critical for the program, and you are expected to be meticulously punctual for all scheduled events and trips. In general, you are expected to arrive at the point of assembly before the scheduled time of departure. If you arrive late, the group may leave without you. You are also required to participate in all supervised activities and scheduled excursions that are part of your trip."

Tour highlights

England (5 days).
  Culture, history, scenery, literature, art, royals: there is something for everyone in England. We'll explore in Dracula's London favorite haunts and visit Whitby, where the Count came ashore in Stoker's Dracula.

London. "He who is sick of London is sick of life."  The fictional Dracula spent considerable time prowling around this great city.

The Imperial War Museum, London.  The Imperial War Museum was originally a mental hospital, and was the inspiration for Dr. Seward's asylum.

Whitby.  The ruins of Whitby Abbey overlook the harbor where the fictional Dracula arrived in England and includes the cemetery where Lucy Westenra was originally attacked.


Romania (5 days).  From the hustle and bustle of Bucharest to the wild and mysterious Carpathian Mountains, Romania is one of the most striking countries in Europe.  We’ll visit spooky castles, fortified medieval villages, and tour Sibiu, Brasov, and Sighisoara, all with a local guide.

Snagov MonasteryVlad Dracula was supposedly buried here. When his tomb was excavated in the early 20th century, it was empty.

Bucharest.  This photo from the 2011 tour was taken in front of Palace of Parliament building, the largest office building in the world.

Bran Castle.  Enter freely and of your own will.  Dating to the 14th century, Bran Castle guards a strategic pass in the Carpathian Mountains linking Transylvania and Wallachia.  Vlad Dracula reputedly used Bran Castle as a base for his invasions of Transylvania.


Sighiosoara.  Vlad Dracula was born here in 1431.  

Poienari citadel.  This is the real Dracula's castle.  Vlad (with the help of slave labor) rebuilt and updated this castle, and made it his main fortress.  Largely in ruins today, Poienari citadel is said to be one of the most haunted places in Romania.

Istanbul, Turkey (5 days).  Istanbul is one of the world's most vibrant and beautiful cities.  Home to some of most important sites in the Western and Muslim worlds, Istanbul is a treasure trove of history and culture.

The Blue Mosque, an iconic Istanbul site, at night.

Hagia Sofia.  The largest cathedral in the world for nearly 1000 years, Hagia Sophia was the center of the Christian world for 500 years until the Turks conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 15th century.

The Basilica Cistern.  James Bond fans can look for the submarine periscope into the Russian embassy.


Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.  Prepare to haggle.  Everything from carpets to evil eye jewelry to fridge magnets to belly dancing costumes can be found in this cavernous market, and every price is negotiable.


Mon Jan 6

 Overnight Flight to London


TuesJan 7

Visit Highgate Cemetery
 Free time in evening

Overnight London


Wed Jan 8

Tour London [Thames Embankment, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Tower of London]
British Museum
Overnight London
Thurs Jan 9
Tour Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum
Free time in afternoon, evening
Overnight in London

Fri Jan 10
Depart for Whitby
Overnight in Whitby

Sat Jan 11
 Tour Whitby, Whitby Abbey
 Return to London
Overnight in London

Sun Jan 12
Depart for Bucharest
Short tour of Bucharest
Overnight in Bucharest

Mon Jan 13
Depart for Sibiu through Curtea de Arges.
Visit Cozia Monastery and the Episcopal Church.  Visit the ruins of Poienari Castle (weather permitting) in Arfeu.

Tour of Sibiu [Baroque Brukenthal Palace, Council Tower, Evangelical Cathedral, Catholic Church, Orthodox Cathedral, Passage of Stairs, Liars’ Bridge]
Overnight in Sibiu

Tues Jan 14

 Depart for Sighisoara. Visit Biertan Fortified Church.
Tour medieval Sighisoara [Citadel Square, Church on the Hill, Dracula’s Birthplace, Clock Tower, Covered Stairway]

Free time in afternoon
Overnight in Sighisoara 

Wed Jan 15
 Depart for Brasov through Bran. Visit Bran Castle
Tour Brasov [Council Square & Tower, Black Church, Weavers’ Bastion, St Nicholas Church, First Romanian School]
Free time in afternoon
Overnight in Brasov

Thurs Jan 16

Depart for Bucharest via Sinaia and Targoviste
Visit Sinaia Monastery and Peles Castle.
Tour the Princely Church and the ruins of the Princely Court in Targoviste.

Visit Snagov Monastery (weather permitting)
Overnight in Bucharest

Fri Jan 17
Travel to Istanbul
Walking tour of Sultanahmet, tour Hippodrome ruins
Overnight in Istanbul

Sat Jan 18
Visit Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Basilica cistern, Topkapi Palace
Overnight in Istanbul

Sun Jan 19
Visit Dolmabahce Palace
 Walking tour of Beyoglu [Taksim Square, University, Golden Horn Galata Bridge, Pera Palas Hotel]
Climb Galata Tower
Overnight in Istanbul

Mon Jan 20
Visit Rushem Pasha Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, Egyptian Bazaar, Grand Bazaar
Overnight in Istanbul

Tues Jan 21
Visit Fatih mosque complex, Princes Mosque, Chora church
Free time in afternoon
Optional visit to hamam
Overnight in Istanbul

Wed Jan 22
Depart for USA



Costs, dates, and administrative details


Questions, concerns, more information?

Please feel free to contact me at, x2451 (office from campus), 410.857.2451 (office from off campus), or 410.322.3633 (home/mobile).