It may conjure up visions of fangs and gothic horror, but the Romanian castle thought to have inspired Dracula’s home has now become a center for jabs of a life-saving nature.
A site at Bran Castle in Transylvania is now hosting a COVID-19 vaccination center every weekend throughout May to encourage vaccinations among residents. Rising above the town on a rocky promontory, the castle is often said to be the inspiration for the home in Bram Stoker’s 19th-century gothic novel, Dracula. While the connection may be loose, the castle isn't afraid to play up its reputation, hosting spooky events around Halloween.
Those attending the vaccination center don't need to make a prior appointment, and are given an illustrated “vaccination diploma” featuring a fanged healthcare worker after receiving a needle. In keeping with the castle's ambience, the healthcare professionals administering the jabs wear fang stickers. As an added bonus, vaccinated visitors are also given free access to an exhibition of medieval torture tools.
Bran Castle was built in the 13th century and was subsequently destroyed in battle, but fears of a Turkish invasion led to a new citadel being built in the same place in 1382. It languished as an administrative building during the 18th century, and is now a museum dedicated to displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie of Romania. The town of Bran was offered to her in 1920 in thanks for her efforts in uniting the country.
Visitors to the castle will learn more about royalty than horror, as the queen's belongings are displayed throughout alongside video footage. Those who go to the castle to get vaccinated have the added bonus of being able to admire views over the surrounding thick forest from its conical towers. The US State Department recommends against travel to Romania and the country remains closed to most US travelers, while the UK currently has Romania on its 'amber list' for travel.
Bran Castle is not the only tourist site in the world that is serving as a vaccination center—the American Museum of Natural History in New York was a temporary vaccination site, alongside Disneyland, California, while in England people have been receiving jabs in the 800-year-old Salisbury Cathedral. New York City recently announced that tourists from around the US could get a one-shot vaccination in places like Times Square and and Central Park.