Page 1, 28th February 2003

28th February 2003
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Page 1, 28th February 2003 — Bishops raise the stakes in Dracula park dispute
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Locations: Sighisoara, Bucharest

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Bishops raise the stakes in Dracula park dispute

BY LUKE COPPEN

ROMANIA'S Catholic and Orthodox bishops are attempting to drive a stake through the heart of government plans to open a Dracula theme park.

The bishops called on minis

ters to rethink the plan after officials abandoned a proposal to develop the theme park near the medieval town of Sighisoara, in Transylvania.

Work on the park was launched in November 2001 by tourism minister Dan Agathon in a campaign to attract a million tourists annually.

However, representatives of Romania's Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran churches fear the project will fuel interest in the occult and disrupt the northern town. The project was also attacked by environmental groups and UNESCO, whose World Cultural Heritage list includes Sighisoara.

Catholic Archbishop loan Robu of Bucharest said Catholic and Orthodox leaders believed the theme park would not project a "good image" of Romania.

"If the government wants to build such a park in future, it should think carefully about the kind of picture it's presenting of our country," he told the US Catholic News Service.

Fr Cristian Saban, Bucharest's vicar general, warned the government it would face opposition if it went ahead with plans to relocate the park to Lake Snagov, north of the capital.

"Dracula isn't the kind of national symbol we,should be offering visitors — there should be better ways of making money," he said.

The mythical Count Dracula was based a 15th century Romanian prince, Vlad the Impaler, notorious for killing his enemies by impalement on stakes.




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