Poenari Castle

Back to List

The Horrifying Vengeance of Vlad the Impaler


The Legend of the Poenari Castle

It is said that one day Vlad Țepeș was hunting along the banks of the river Argiș, and had noticed the ruins of an old castle on top of a cliff on Mount Albina, a cliff surrounded by the Argiș river, and inhabited only by vultures and other birds of prey. He decided that it would be the perfect place for a defensive fortress, so he conceived the design to restore it to its former glory.

The only setback was that he needed money, and the boyars refused to give him the money he needed.

You would not give me the money I needed," he said, "well, keep it! I will not have you killed to chastise you for your revolt, but I condemn you all, just as you are, to build with your own hands a Fortress on the top of Mount Albina. I wish it to be the largest, the best, and the most impregnable of all which I possess. You will not leave the mountain until all is finished. My soldiers have the right of life and death over you, to force you to carry out my instructions.

No sooner said than done, and these unfortunate creatures, young and old, were huddled together without having a chance to say goodbye to their families and were conducted like criminals to the bank of the river. They first created the footpath up the mountain, and then they started working on the platform of the mountain, surrounded by stern guards, exposed to harsh conditions, and deprived of sleep and food.

Sun, rain, and wind, blackened their faces; their clothes hung in shreds; their features haggard and careworn, some eyes burning with rage, others with the submission of despair. By the end, they were no longer human beings, but machines, stupefied by sorrow, and no longer able oven to implore the God above to send down his maledictions on the tyrant.

Still, their work progressed, and soon this Citta Dolente was completed.

No Picture Available

Poenari Castle, also known as Poenari Citadel (Cetatea Poenari in Romanian), is a ruined castle in Romania which was a home of Vlad the Impaler. Access to the citadel is made by climbing the 1,480 concrete stairs.

p>The castle is located on the plateau of Mount Cetatea, facing the west side of the Transfagara?an, on a canyon formed on the Arge? River valley, close to the Fagara? Mountains.

Poenari Castle was constructed around the beginning of the 13th century by Wallachians. Around the 14th century, Poenari (then known as Castle Arges) was the main citadel of the Basarab rulers. In the next few decades, the name and the residents changed a few times but eventually the castle was abandoned and left in ruins.

However, in the 15th century, realizing the potential for a castle perched high on a steep precipice of rock, Vlad III the Impaler repaired and consolidated the structure by enslaving his enemies from the nobility of the Danubian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, making it one of his main fortresses, rebuilding the former Castle Arges on the left side of the river with stones from the older Castle Poenari, which was on the right bank and somewhat lower. Although the castle was used for many years after Vlad's death in 1476, it eventually was abandoned again in the first half of the 16th century and was in ruins by the 17th century. The size and location of the castle made it difficult to conquer. On January 13, 1913, a landslide caused by an earthquake brought down parts of the castle which crashed into the river far below. After two further earthquakes in 1940 and 1977 that caused further damage, it was slightly repaired and the walls and its towers still stand today. Since 2009, the site has been administered by the Arge? County Museum.

A modern rendering of Poenari Castle was featured in the 2013 STARZ television series Da Vinci's Demons in the episode titled 'The Devil' in which Leonardo da Vinci travels to Poenari Castle in Wallachia to meet with Vlad III.

The episode 'The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula' of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries show in the '70s takes place inside 'Dracula's Castle' in 'Poenari'. Shots of the castle used in the episode are Poenari Castle, though the episode shows folks driving up to the castle gates for a rock festival—impossible to do, as you must climb stairs to get anywhere near the ruins.

Claims that the Poenari Castle would be the 'real' Castle Dracula as featured in Bram Stoker's famous Dracula novel have no basis in Stoker's book. There is no proof that Stoker knew of Poenari Castle and the castle is situated roughly 200km to the south of the novel's place of action, which was in the north-east corner of Transylvania.

Numerous legends and stories about Poenari Castle have survived over the centuries. During the Communist era in Romania, foreign visitors sometimes spent the night inside the ruined structure; among them was Fatimeh Pahlavi's husband, Vincent Lee Hillyer, who claimed that in the night the temperature was much lower than usual in the castle (even in the month of July), smelled rotten flowers although there were none, he suffered from bizarre nightmares, inexplicably contracted Keratosis, and got the 'overpowering feeling' that he was being watched and got bitten without being physically assaulted. It was also featured as a haunted location in Ghost Hunters International in Season 1 (2008–09), episode # 14.

Wikipedia Article
  • Română: Ansamblul Cetății PoenariThis is a photo of a historic monument in județul Argeș, classified with number AG-II-a
  • Română: Satul Capatanenii UngureniThis is a photo of a historic monument in județul Argeș, classified with number AG-II-
  • Română: Cetatea este situată în apropierea barajului Vidraru, pe un vârf de munte. De aici se pot admira privelişti frum
  • Română: Ansamblul Cetății PoenariThis is a photo of a historic monument in județul Argeș, classified with number AG-II-a
  • Română: Ansamblul Cetății PoenariThis is a photo of a historic monument in județul Argeș, classified with number AG-II-a
  • Français: Château de Poenari
  • Română: In prezent Cetatea se afla in stadiu de ruina
  • Français: Vue de la route Transfăgăraş depuis la citadelle de Arefu
  • The citadel seen from the national road
  • Poenari Castle plan
  • Poenari Castle


Back to List