Imagine an old hotel in Transylvania that is walking distance to a castle and looks like a cross between the Rocky Horror Picture Show and something decorated by Gomez Addams.
Welcome of the Hotel Corviniana!
Having driven from Brasov to Hunedoara, Wednesday and I book into Corviniana to find ourselves in seventh heaven. At last - a creepy retro hotel run by a husband and wife team and staffed with people whose poor English turns ordering meals into an obstacle course.
Just two hundred meters from its namesake, the famous Corvin Castle, Corviniana is a photographic dream come true.
Red velvet curtains and chair coverings are complemented by the heavy wooden decor and daggy carpets. The dark interior boasts four metre ceilings, creaking floor boards and a careworn crone who shuffles about babbling indecipherable Romania to the guests.
What more could two Australian misfits ask for?
Wednesday imagines us as Brad and Janet stumbling upon one of the Master’s special nights, yet in truth it’s mid-summer and the Hotel Corviniana comes as a welcome reprieve from the sweltering heat.
This evening (when it cools) we approach the highlight of our Transylvania tour, one of the most spectacular castles in the world and a Renaissance /Gothic masterpiece - Corvin Castle!
The castle is rumoured to be haunted and (seven hundred years ago) served as a prison for the infamous Vlad III of Wallachia, otherwise known as ‘Vlad the impaler’.
Like many deposed leaders, Vlad was a sociopath who struggled with the concept of compassion and was fond of inserting his enemies (both real and imagined) upon tall wooden stakes and leaving them to perish slowly while enjoying an elevated view of the landscape.
While sadly common throughout history, impalement was just one of many sadistic punishments that reflect an enduring aspect of human nature – ie. the capacity not to care about others.
Despite our seemingly sophisticated modern lifestyle, a lack of empathy is no less common today and is the underlying cause of 99% of humanity’s problems.
You cannot harm or kill someone for whom you have genuine compassion!
Compassion is an expression of strength. It is the capacity to listen and understand. It is the ability to look passed our own selfish desires and to consider the well-being of others.
In a strange counter-intuitive way, Corvin Castle symbolises compassion – not because it’s original occupants were so inclined, but because it serves as a reminder of how not to be.