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10 places in Romania dedicated to Devil

What's the first word that comes to mind when you say Romania? Is it Eliade? Is it Nadia? Nope. It’s Dracula. The vampire voivode’s legend inspired and terrified people all over the world for decades. Would make sense country’s residents share the same passion for so-called Vlad Dracul. Well, not so much. Romanians’ passion is the real thing, the Devil himself.

Here's a list of places named after this character and let’s start with some churches because that’s something the devil can be related with. Oh, wait, what?

1. The Church with Devils, from Ivanesti

Ghosts in an abandoned church, who would have thought?

According to locals, after WW2 had finished, few German soldiers retreating from the front hid in a church in Ivanesti village, with Russians tailing them with killing thoughts. Germans prayed to God to save them, but the Russians found and slaughtered them. Before the execution, the soldiers cursed the church that didn’t protect them.

After seven decades, people are still reluctant to go near it. The building was abandoned in the wilderness. Locals said they saw people entering the monastery at sunset from time to time. They went to check the place but there was no one inside. The elders, still believing in ghosts, can feel a negative energy surrounding the church, an evil spirit who doesn’t want to leave.

The church is made of big granite stone and its construction lasted ten years. Its imposing structure can be admired by tourists who are attracted to ghost stories, photographing themselves among ruins.

2. Church with demons, from Corund

What happened with the good guys?

Items that made this church popular both in Romania and abroad are the paintings on the western wall of the narthex, depicting human sins or punishments for them.

"Interestingly, the paintings are original, painted scenes are from the afterlife with devils punishing sinners, made to frighten sinners," said Felician Pop, councilor responsible for culture in the Satu Mare County Council.

The picture presents Doomsday, in a different point of view. As you can see there’s no good side judging, only evil. There’s no Christ with the Apostles, nor detailed representation of Heaven and Hell.

3. Church of Death

Let’s just paint the fence instead

The church from Ciocanai, Mosoaia Village became known as the "Church of Death" because of an evil draw on one of the outer walls: the Angel of Death.

Legend says, centuries ago, during Ottoman invasion, all people from village took cover inside the church. Turkish blocked the door and set fire, everyone burned alive. The painting is a reminder of that day, and a way to protect from happening again.

Yet, there’s another thing. Let's say you're in town’s cleaning team that has to repaint the white church’s walls because unknown authors have decorated it with a frightening image. You have with you a bucket of lime, a brush, a scale and a note that says “Those who try to erase the painting depicting the Grim Reaper are doomed”. That would probably change my mind.

Fantasy or not, the person who tried to remove the painting along with the one who requested had a violent and sudden death.

4. Devil's Lake

They say lake has no bottom

Photo credit, Boby Prodan

Devil's Lake is located in Nera Gorges, the west side of the country - mostly known for Bigar waterfall. It is the biggest karstic lake in Romania, nine to twelve meters in depth.

Legends talk about a shepherd grazing his goats near Nera River, and one day met Satan. The shepherd was lighting a fire in the cave entrance to warm himself when suddenly a little man holding a fish came out of the lake. He challenged the shepherd to roast the fish in a way so it will not flex. Shepherd accepted the bet on one condition. Little man had to roast a billy goat’s head so the animal didn’t show its teeth. He cooked the fish on a stick and so it remained straight. Little man tied the goat’s snout with lime rope. During the cooking process, the rope burned and the goat smiled at them. Angry he was fooled by the shepherd, the little man entered the lake, and never came out. The shepherd realized the little man was Satan. The lake was named Devil's Lake.

An older brother of this prehistoric lake type is in Florida, and is named the Devil's Den Spring.

5. Demons’ Lake, from Pietrari County

Not all that glitters is gold

Here’s another story you’ll love, and this one says where’s a lake there’s a gold treasure on its bottom. This lake makes no difference. So it had a treasure. Huge trunk full of gold coins. That’s what people saw one day when the pool dried up. Three families from Pietrarii de Sus (Upper Stonemasons) came to take out the chest. They get inside the swamp with pumpkin branches and started pulling, praying to God. "Help us, Lord, to get the gold." The golden trunk was barely moving. They pulled and pulled, and at the end of the day they were close to finishing the job; it was waterfront.

Tired and hungry, men set at the table but the women remained on shore, watching gold with envy eyes, but also to each other. All of them had the same hidden thoughts praying to Satan: "Help us, Devil, to split the cash.” In an instant, the lake was full again with water, swallowing the families and the money.

Since then, no one goes there anymore. Cattle get lost, beasts are crying all night in the lake’s forest. You can see ghosts, some say. However, it is forbidden to talk about the lake in Pietrari County.

Legend is hundreds of years old and still stands today. Less passionate say it’s just a normal lake that collects groundwater leaks and where usually wild boars bathe. The grunts or the screams heard at night are either from pigs or from owls, birds that fill the woods around.

6. Demons’ Mill Falls

200 meters falls

Despite its name, no fabulous story can be said about this waterfall. Some say the name comes from the loud noise made by the falling water that resembles the sound of Hell. Was anyone there and came back to talk about it? Didn’t think so.

The name also might come from the fact that the mill situated on the river has a vertical spindle that spins counterclockwise direction, the opposite of what all other mills do. You can say it works like Hell.

7. Devil’s Stone

Here I stand all alone in my lonely world

Photo credit, Boby Prodan

A solitary rock in the middle of a lake does not necessarily lead your mind to a fabulous legend. Or if you want to imagine one, you might think that Hercules came here and played a trick on the villagers. Well, no, Romanians blame Satan even for this lonely rock.

So, Devil made a bet with God. The evil one wanted to gain control over mankind and the good one convinced him to gamble for his goal. The Devil praised he could steal the cliff from the top of the mountain named Ceahlau and bring it to God until dawn. Satan managed to detach it from the mountain, but while trying to bring it, he heard the cocks’ song at sunrise, got scared and dropped it.

Yes, even the evil one gets scared sometimes, especially by cocks.

Legend goes on and locals say Devil is still trying to move the rock out of place. So far, he managed to carry it few centimeters. So, it came to believe that Devil’s stone changes its position over night. Other people believe Devil is still visiting his stone during night, moment when all lights die out, and animals and birds shut up.

Experts explain it as an optical illusion created by the increasing or decreasing water flow.

8. Bran Castle

Vlad Dracul slept here as a simple visitor and drank no one

Despite all legends regarding Romanian Prince Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracul, he lived in Bran Castle for a short time, just as a guest.

No matter how long we investigate, history won’t link him in any other circumstance with the castle from Brasov town. But the myth that in Transylvania lands lived a terrible vampire is alive today, Bran Castle staying true to the story. At its sight, any tourist can easily imagine this bloody count’s life beyond castle’s walls.

In reality, the fortress was built in the XIV century for military purposes, suffering changes over time. Since 1920 becomes the property of Queen Marie of Romania in gratitude for her contribution to the Great Union in 1918. She was the one who has made the latest changes on the castle, giving its fairy-tale appearance today.

9. Voila village

No picture for this one but is a real fact that Vlad Dracul, the real person not the vampire, offered this village named Voila to Stanciu Moenescu and his sons Moian, Stoica, Sin and Vlad half and another third of the village, with place for one mill.

The act of donation of the Voila Village sounds like this:

"I, Vlad, Voivode and Ruler, with the mercy of God, with the good haggling with God, I overcame and ruled the whole Romanian Country and I was the victor of Almagiu and Fagaras [...] and offered [...] Master Stanciu Moenescu with his servants [... ] and I gave them half of Voila and of the other half I gave them the third party.... "

Clear, right? What about Renfield, master? Did he get anything?

10. God’s Bridge

Cross the bridge for good luck

Photo credit, Boby Prodan

Ohhh, you might say, I see what you did. You saved the good for last. Not so fast!

The legend says Devil had his home inside of a cave. Of course, it was dark in there and I don’t know why he loves darkness. He was doing all kinds of bad things to people around. So they ask All Mighty to help them chase away the Evil. Story is so old it’s supposed God was walking among people those days. So, the Lord came down from Heaven, the Devil hid in the cavern. God handed down the cave’s ceiling to catch the Bad One inside. The cave’s ceiling felled but an arc of rock remained to the surface. That’s the bridge. Devil slipped through the rubble and came out on the other side. Angry that he was driven away, he scratched all the rocks on the other side of the slope and formed two fields with lapies: Aphrodite’s Field and Cleopatra’s Field.

All places presented above are real, and these are their official names. Scattered across country are countless ruins, artifacts so old not even archeologists can figure out their real purpose. The Sun of Stone from Sarmizegetusa kept its secret as Stonehenge did, while people’s vivid imagination preserved their legends, part truth, part myth. And what story can be older than eternal fight between good and evil?

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