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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Romania scraps Dracula Land
Bran Castle
Bran Castle in Transylvania is part of the Dracula legend

The Romanian Government has backed down from a controversial plan to build a Dracula theme park in the Transylvanian town of Sighisoara.

Vlad Tepes
Vlad Tepes: Model for Bram Stoker's Dracula
Dracula Land was championed by the Romanian Tourism Minister, Matei Dan, and the construction was due to start this summer.

But protests against the project were mounted by both local and international environmental groups.

The Dracula legend was popularized by the Irish author Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel. Count Dracula was based on a 15th-century Walachian prince, Vlad the Impaler, who was famous for his cruelty.

'Alternative site'

The dramatic decision to seek a new, less environmentally damaging, site for the Dracula Land theme park came after months of intensive lobbying by both local opponents and international figures, including Britain's Prince Charles.

Sighisoara
Sighisoara has a long German tradition
The project included the construction of a large mock castle overlooking the medieval Sighisoara.

Mr Dan had said that the awaited million visitors a year could be expected to help double Romania's income from tourism.

Opponents pointed to the lack of local infrastructure and the environmental damage which they said would be done - not just to the 120 hectare site, but to the surrounding villages.

Instead, ecologically friendly tourism will be developed in the area and an alternative site will be sought for the Dracula theme park, probably closer to the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

The United Nations cultural organization (Unesco) is expected to congratulate the Romanian Government on its decision not to proceed with the project.

See also:

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