Burg Bernstein at twilight (c) photo Almásy Archive

Dracula at Burg Bernstein

What does Burg Bernstein have to do with Dracula? Did Count Dracula actually pay a visit to Burg Bernstein? What is the connection between the Almásy family and Dracula?

We would like to answer these questions right here in a short anecdote. Let's begin with the fact that the Almásy family came from Transylvania …

 

Burg Bernstein during a thunderstorm, photographed from the courtyard at night (c) photo Almásy Archive
Stone fireplace with "Dracula" inscribed on the chimney above the hearth (c) photo Almásy archive

A scary bit of fun

Many years ago, the great-grandfather of the current lord of the castle established the “Styrian Jade Company” together with an Englishman. At one point, the English business partner needed to send one of his employees from England to Bernstein. Back in those days, of course, he traveled virtually the entire way to the castle by carriage. An Englishman traveling to an ancient castle in a carriage… does that sound familiar to you? János Almásy and his brother László (better known today as “The English Patient”) allowed themselves to play a spine-chilling prank on their guest.

Amongst other things, the two brothers wrote the name “Dracula” on the wide chimney above the big open fireplace. In wax. When they were done, they painted over the wax in white paint, meaning that the name was no longer visible. After dinner, as the brothers withdrew with their English guest, presumably to indulge in a digestif and pleasant conversation in front of the fire, the following occurred: The heat of the fire melted the wax and so, as the evening progressed, the name “Dracula” reappeared. How the poor Englishman reacted to the sight is, sadly, cloaked in the silence of history.

Skull sporting a beige corduroy cap and chestnuts in the eye cavities on a desk at Burg Bernstein in Burgenland (c) photo Almásy Archive

A Skull at Burg Bernstein

No, this is neither the remains of the English traveler nor of one of the Almásys, though the skull can indeed be found at Burg Bernstein and definitely fits with the “horror story” theme. In fact, the skull was found on the site of a battlefield close to Burg Bernstein. Purportedly one of the final battles fought by the Knights Templar.

Lightning in the night sky with part of Burg Bernstein in the foreground to the right (c) photo Almásy Archive

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