Poenari Castle | The famous fortress of Vlad the Impaler

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A former place of refuge for the rulers of Walachia, who would retreat here when fleeing foreign invaders

Perched atop a cliff like an eagle’s nest, at an altitude of over 800 m, the Poenari castle was built in the 14th century on an isolated peak. It can only be reached by climbing a stairway of 1480 stone steps. The fort was used at some point by Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince at the origin of the Dracula character. Vlad’s Castle, built (according to the legend) by a few hundred prisoners, is a place that breathes history and beauty, its fame being overshadowed only by that of the legend of the Bran Castle. However, the historical evidence connecting Poenari castle with Vlad’s life and legend turns this site into the real-life “Dracula’s castle”.


The legend of the Poenari Castle:

The Impaler had been one day hunting along the banks of the river Argis and had remarked on Mount Albina, a position which he considered admirable. It was an immense rock, on the top of which was a capacious platform, but so high that it seemed to touch the clouds. Vultures, and birds of prey, alone, inhabited it, and the tumultuous waves of the Argis, beat continually at its base.

Vlad conceived the design, there to build a castle, which would be impregnable. For that, he needed money, and his people had refused it to him! Then he came to another resolution, and with this he now made his prisoners acquainted.

“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 built, 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, huddled together in gala dress, without saying goodbye to those who were happy enough to have remained at home, were conducted, like criminals, to the bank of the river, at the foot of the mountain. Then, after making footpaths, almost perpendicular in the mountain, they gained the platform and were surrounded by their stern guardians, exposed to every change in the atmosphere, and to nameless tortures.

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. These are no longer human beings, but machines, stupified by sorrow, and no longer able oven to implore God above, to send down his maledictions on the tyrant. Still, their work progressed, and soon this citta dolente, was completed.

Visiting hours:

High season: from May 1 to September 30.
From Monday to Sunday 9.00-18.00.

Ticket Prices:

5 lei – adults; 2 lei – pupils, students, seniors.
60 lei – amateur; 1000 lei/h – professional.