10/10/2011 10:01 am ET Updated Oct 09, 2012

Halloween Travel: A Tour Of The Real Dracula's Homeland

Before there was "True Blood" and before Buffy started slaying vampires, there was only one name in blood-sucking: Dracula. The titular character in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel of the same name, Dracula has since become the stuff of Halloween and nocturnal legend. But what of the man behind the fangs?

It’s debated how much Stoker knew about Vlad III Dracula, but it’s widely accepted that he served as the inspiration for the literary vampire in some capacity.

Vlad III’s nickname “Dracula” translates to “son of Dracul” – Dracul being derived from the latin draco meaning “dragon.” This was a nod to his father’s membership in the Order of the Dragon, which Vlad III would become an initiate of.

During his second round at the throne, Vlad III made a name for himself with his brutality. He would be given the moniker Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler due to his habit of impaling his enemies on long stakes, hoisting them up, and leaving them to die. It's said that he once left a virtual forest of impaled victims in a field to ward off invading Ottomans. And, apparently he once nailed the turbans of disrespectful Ottomans to their heads.

For those interested in following in Vlad’s grisly footsteps, here’s a DIY tour of the sights of Dracula’s homeland. Those liking a little more structure can find Dracula tours like Vampire in Transylvania Dracula Tour or Prince Vlad Dracula the True Story.