Mentions of vampires were quite common since ancient times. Vampire real stories were told especially in Eastern Europe and Mediterranean. However, real vampires “known” by our ancestors were completely different from that we “know” today. This is because of one man – Bram Stoker. When Stoker published his novel “Dracula”, he defined the image of vampires for generations. But with his novel, he also broke up the theory of vampirism as it was known for centuries. Therefore, it is most likely that what you know about “real vampires” is just a set of characteristics derived from Stoker´s book.
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10. Bram Stoker visited Transylvania before Dracula
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There is a myth that Bram Stoker traveled to Transylvania to do research for Dracula. The fact is that he never visited the place. He took Switzerland as an inspiration for his novel. His dramatic description of Transylvania´s sharp mountains is, in fact, the description of Swiss Alps.
9. Count Dracula is based on a real character
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In this case, the answer is yes and no. Bram Stoker based the character of his Count on a real man named Vlad Tepes, a 15th-century prince nicknamed Dracula. He was very cruel, practiced torture and – it is the most famous of his acts – spiked people on poles. However, there is no mention of vampirism connected to Vlad.
8. Vampires are undead
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Once again, this is Stoker´s invention. In historical sources all across the Europe, vampires are described in several ways but never were the real vampires described as undead. Bram Stoker used this term because of its drama and exotic sound.
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Within modern myths about vampires, the word “Nosferatu” has the prominent place. Widely thought to be Romanian for a vampire, it is another of Stoker´s inventions. Its origin can be traced to word “Nesuferit”, Romanian for a demon, or nosophoros, Greek for plague carrier. Nosferatu´s success was sealed with the movie of the same name. That word is now fully established in the Myths About Vampires.
6. Vampires can turn into bats
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In European vampire real stories, vampires were able to take the physical form of dogs, cats, horses, cows, and many other animals. However, vampire turning into a bat is (once again) an invention of Bram Stoker. Who knows why he picked up a bat for his story, maybe because there are a lot of bats in England. Or maybe because a lot of people are frightened of them.
5. No vampire reflection in a mirror
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Another characteristic invented by Bram Stoker. Why? Because it is cool and it points to Dracula´s un-natural spirit. But there is no mention that our ancestors actually believe in real vampires having this ability.
4. No shadows by vampires
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Exactly the same situation as in the previous point. It was chosen by Stoker to highlight the un-natural spirit of Count Dracula. No vampire real stories of an old Europe talks about it. It seems that “real vampires” were very ordinary compared to Dracula.
3. Vampires cannot cross running water
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It is often found that witches, ghosts, and other creatures have this disadvantage. However, it is never mentioned within myths about vampires. It fits Bram Stoker´s story but the “real vampires” could cross running water at their will. It was pretty normal to see a vampire jumping on stones from one side of the river to another.
2. Vampires are destroyed by sunlight
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This was not even invented by Bram Stoker as Dracula dies of a stabbing. This was invented by authors of the Nosferatu silent movie. “Real vampires” were OK to move on the sunlight. Maybe their powers were affected to some extent but they did not disintegrate. Our ancestors had no safe heaven in the sun as vampires were there as well, ready to suck their blood.
1. Vampires must sleep in their native earth
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In myths about vampires, they were sleeping in their graves but there is no mention anywhere that they must sleep in a dirt which must be their native earth. Count Dracula did it but the “real vampires” had it much more comfortable. No dirt was necessary for them.
By this list, you can see how significantly is our notion about vampires affected by Bram Stoker´s Dracula. Almost every piece of knowledge about vampires comes from the 19th-century novel. But our ancestors believed in vampires and were afraid of them. Several archaeological findings in central and eastern Europe shows bodies with separated heads, tied hands and wooden stake used to stab the heart. It is believed that people killed these unfortunate persons because they believed that these were not ordinary men but real vampires. Yes, our ancestors believed in vampires, but their idea of them was different from that created by Bram Stoker.