The Baltimore Sun

Halloween is creeping closer, and it won't be long before little ghosts and goblins hit the streets in search of sweet treats. But for a more historical All Hallow's Eve this year, skip the candy trail and head straight to the home of Dracula himself: Romania. Despite being the birthplace of the spooky figure, Romania is one of Europe's most beautiful countries, with charming villages and rich Carpathian mountain scenery. Here are five things to do:


Explore Bran Castle : Don't let the name fool you: This is indeed Dracula's castle. Or, to be more precise, the castle that Vlad the Impaler, the famous Romanian prince that inspired the Dracula legend, allegedly visited and briefly stayed in during the height of his rule. Bran Castle also houses an impressive collection of traditional Romanian furniture and art.


See painted monasteries : Anyone with a love of classic architecture, history or religion will enjoy visiting one of the eight famous painted monasteries and churches around Romania's northern region of Bucovina, filled with 15th- and 16th-century fresco paintings.


Go riding, Transylvania-style : Those looking for a more up-close-and-personal view of the countryside might enjoy a horseback ride through the hills and forests of northern Romania. For Bram Stoker fans, horseback riding trips go near the famed Borgo Pass, a main route through the Carpathian mountains.


Get Merry at a mausoleum : Located in the Maramures region, the Merry Cemetery in the village of Sapanta is one of northern Romania's most celebrated spots. Colorful tombstones, with rhyming epitaphs and paintings, cover the grounds.


Visit Revolution Square : In the heart of Romania's capital city of Bucharest sits Revolution Square, named for the infamous 1989 Romanian Revolution unseating former Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. Today, the square holds many of the country's greatest landmarks, including the National Art Museum (formerly the Royal Palace) and the Romanian Athenaeum, a popular concert hall.


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