Poenari Castle - stronghold of Dracula

The true story of Vlad the Impaler called Dracula  

There are several locations in Romania linked to the Dracula legend. Vlad III the Impaler, also known as Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Dragon was the legendary vampire, created by author Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel of the same name. Though Dracula is a purely fictional creation, Stoker named his infamous character after a real person. Vlad was the second of four brothers born into the noble family of Vlad II Dracul. His sobriquet Dracula (meaning “son of Dracul”) was derived from the Latin draco (“dragon”) after his father’s induction into the Order of the Dragon, created by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund for the defence of Christian Europe against the Ottoman Empire. 


Vlad Tepes was born in 1431 in Transylvania and was the Prince of Wallachia - a kingdom that now comprises the southern half of Romania. Vlad earned his name Impaler (in Romanian - Tepes) by impaling his enemies on stakes in the ground and leaving them to die. The Ottoman (Turkish) Empire was at war with Wallachia. In 1462, Sultan Mehmed II fled with his army at the sight of 20,000 impaled corpses rotting on the outskirts of Vlad’s capital city, Targoviste. It is estimated that during of Vlad's rule his army killed about 100 thousand enemies in this cruel way. 
Vlad was killed in 1476 in battle but remained a folk hero in the region for his battle against Ottoman invasion.

Locations linked to the Dracula

Although Bram Stoker never travelled to Romania, he crammed his book with descriptions of many real locations linked to the Dracula, that can still be visited in present-day Romania. They include town of Sighisoara where you can visit the house in which Vlad was born, the Old Princely Court (Palatul Curtea Veche) in Bucharest, Snagov Monastery, where, according to legend, Vlad's remains were buried; the ruins of the Poenari Fortress (considered to be the authentic Dracula's Castle); the village of Arefu where Dracula legends are still told, the city of Brasov where Vlad led raids against the Saxons merchants (see: Brasov's Medieval Defensive Fortifications). 


Many people consider Castle Bran as Dracula's castle, but it's not. Stoker's description of Dracula's crumbling fictional castle also bears no resemblance to Bran Castle. The location Stoker had in mind for Castle Dracula was an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului (2,033 m asl.), located in the Transylvanian Călimani Alps near the former border with Moldavia. 

Poenari Castle

The major and real stronghold of Vlad III the Impaler was picturesque Poenari Castle. Castle also is known as Poenari Citadel or Poenari Fortress is located on the plateau of Mount Cetatea (at a height of 860 meters). Castle perched high on a steep precipice of rock on a canyon formed on the Argeș River valley, close to the Făgăraș Mountains in the west side of the famous Transfăgărășan Highway (read more at: Transfagarasan highway, Romania).
Poenari Castle was erected around the beginning of the 13th century by Wallachians. The size and location of the castle made it difficult to conquer but in the 14 century, the castle was abandoned and left in ruins.


In the 15th century, Vlad the Impaler repaired and consolidated the structure, making it one of his main fortresses and one of his main places of residence. The castle was rebuilt by the prisoners of Vlad. Vlad imprisoned a large number of his enemies and according to the legend, he told them they had two years to build him a new castle here. If they succeeded, he’d let them go free, and if they failed, he’d kill them. The actually did it, but it’s assumed a lot of them died along the way from the hard work. 


The legend says that the first wife of Vlad the Impaler threw herself from one of the citadel’s walls, being afraid that she will be taken hostage by the Turks on one of their attack on the fortress. When she died, a river at the foot of cliffs got all red from his blood. Since then, it is called The Lady’s River.


The castle was used for many years after Vlad's death and was abandoned again in the first half of the 16th century.  In 1888, a landslide brought a portion of the fortress crashing down the cliff. It was slightly repaired and the walls and its towers still stand today. 


In 1970, Romanian authorities decided to make this place a tourist friendly and built 1.480 steps in the rock of the mountain so that people would have easier access. Don't expect to really see too much of the castle, though. but after climbing tiring steps to the Castle, you realise it was worth it. The ruins of the Citadel are quite well maintained but there are no rooms to explore or twisting hallways to walk through. However, the views from up there are incredible. 


You might also like other articles about beautiful places in  Romania (click to see)

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Comments

  1. Interesting post. Amazing castle and pics.

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  2. What an amazing location for Vlad's castle!

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  3. Lovely photos! I have never been to Romania, so it's nice to see how beautiful it is and one of its castles. The views from the castle was definitely worth climbing all the stairs.

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  4. The history behind the Dracula legend is fascinating and brings even more colour to your wonderful photos.

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  5. Hang on... are they mannequins on spikes for scenic effect? Because that is equal parts cool and messed up ;)

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  6. Incredible! I have to read more about Dracula and actually make the trek there some day, especially since Romania isn't far from Moscow! :D

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  7. Very few people actually know that Poenari is Vlad Tepes's castle (Dracula). But Bram Stocker's description fits Bran Castle, but in reality Vlad Tepes passed by that area only once.

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  8. Niedostępny i ładnie położony

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  9. A rich and interesting history, and beautiful photography! I was curious about those mannequins too.

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  10. I am obsessed with castles so would love to visit Poenari castle. Love the history and the scenery. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  11. What beautiful scenery! Pinned and tweeted. I have never been to Europe - again, so beautiful.

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  12. Wow...how were they able to build that on a cliff? That's just awesome. I love interesting stories like this. Thanks so much for sharing and linking up today.

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  13. Thank you for the very interesting history about "Dracula" and Vlad the Impaler. I've heard about Vlad the Impaler before but never knew the story. 20,000 people impaled on stakes would send me running.

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  14. Such an amazing old castle looking so solid in such a steep and scenic setting. Those stairs look quite challenging.

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  15. Oh my gosh these photos are incredible! I've always wanted to visit Romania. It's even higher on my list now that I've read your post I really want to see the Poenari Castle when I get there. #theweeklypostcard

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  16. What a great looking part of the world - I really must add eastern Europe to my travel lists.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  17. Not what I pictures in my mind! Still a beautiful area. Never been to Romania! Someday!

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  18. I'm not sure about including the impaled mannequins, but hey, it does have shock value. Before traveling to Romania, I had no idea that Vlad the impaler was a hero. Thanks to Bram Stoker for that fake news! Thanks for linking up, see you next weekend! #wkendtravelinspiration

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  19. I'm sure I visited once pre kids, so beautiful there

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  20. Fantastic scenery. Thanks for all the info, too!

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  21. Excellent visit to this place. Somehow I kept hearing the words--- "I never drink...wine!" Thanks for sharing. I think I'll go have some wine....:)

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  22. Beautiful country and castle and good to get the real story!

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  23. Great photos in that spectacular place.

    best regards

    · LMA · & · CR ·

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  24. Thank you much for telling us at ALL SEASONS about the real Dracula, and his history! Shooting a person seems merciful compared to his methods! The castle looks hard to reach for his day and age. Have a happy week (without dreaming of Dracula)!

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  25. Amazing photography! All beautiful. Interesting history also.

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  26. Oh wow! I would love to see that!

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  27. Beautiful photos, and such a fascinating post! Thank you so much for sharing, and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

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  28. ...I wonder is President Donny's wall will be this beautiful.

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  29. great post and exquisite photos.

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  30. Thanks for the tour. I read a book that had Vlad figure in the story called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Now I can picture some of the geography that she described in that engrossing book.

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  31. looks like a pretty impenetrable place, I've read alot about Mr Vlad, wonder if he was as scary in real life?

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  32. You have some wonderful photos to share with this story. Glad to know Dracula was not real, but use to love those movies. Would be fun to visit...looks like an interesting tour. Thanks for the sharing of the information about this place.
    Glad you visited me and linked so I could come visit. :)

    Peabea@Peabea Scribbles

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  33. Wow. Vlad had some pretty awesome digs.

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  34. Wonderful history complete with a couple of poor impaled prisoners. Wonder if they Did the same to Vad after he died. Must say it looks an amazing place to visit

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  35. A lovely countryside, but it still gives me the creeps!

    https://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2017/03/when-you-really-really-want-to-know.html

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  36. Beautiful views! I would love to visit, as Dracula is one of my favorite novels.

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  37. I had no clue Dracula was named after a real person! So interesting! Love all the views! #wanderfulwednesday

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  38. Vlad Dracul also means Vlad the Devil. :3 Glad you're enjoying Romania. ;)

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  39. I went to Bran Castle once and also did not think it very Dracula like - very touristic yes but not very authentic looking.

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  40. So beautiful! And it was great to have a slice of history too :)

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  41. Stunning views, and interesting post

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  42. That is fabulous, what a great piece of history

    Mollyx

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