The confusion of fact and fiction doesn't seem to bother Langa. "Dracula, who was he? He's a myth," says Langa, "and if people want it, shouldn't I sell it? One thousand books and 250 films were made about him."
But Hans Bruno Fröhlich, pastor of Sighisoara's oldest church, says that by building Dracula Land, the town would be glamorizing evil. The name Dracula derives from the word draco, meaning either dragon or devil.
"As pastor and a practicing Christian, I don't think the idea is good. You can build a theme park, but not one that attacks Christian values," said Fröhlich.
Concerns About Drugs and Satanic Sects
The Lutheran clergyman is also worried about what visitors the park might attract. He says that the town's medieval festival, which attracted 30,000 people this summer, also brought drugs and satanic sects into Sighisoara's idyllic, cobblestoned lanes.
Fröhlich opposes the project on other grounds, as well. For one, the project would mean the destruction of a nature preserve with centuries-old oaks to make way for the hilltop city.
He also questions the rosy economic forecasts for the town, which is located in the middle of Romania and served by a transportation infrastructure lagging far behind international standards. Even if busloads of tourists were to descend on Sighisoara, Fröhlich maintains that most of the town's residents would merely feel an increase in the cost of living.
Lastly, the pastor claims that a theme park would create the impression that Dracula actually built the town, while in reality it was constructed in the Middle Ages by settlers from Germany, the ancestors of Romania's dwindling ethnic-German minority, to which Fröhlich belongs.
"For what price do you give up your culture?" he asks. "I'm a simple pastor. I can't reverse government decrees or projects that have the backing of influence and money. But I do have common sense."
Fröhlich recently made a last-ditch appeal to Sighisoara's mayor, and he says he will try to rally support from the town's other churches.
In the meantime, preparations for Dracula Land continue. The final plans are to be followed by international bidding for building contracts. Construction of the project is projected to begin next spring.
Copyright 2001 The Christian Science Monitor
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES