Poenari Castle – the real Dracula’s Castle
Poenari Fortress also known as Poenari Castle is considered to be the authentic Dracula’s Castle. This fascinating fortress is located in the Carpathian Mountains on the Transfăgărăşan road, the famous road that goes up to 2042 meters altitude (ft. 6700). More specifically, twenty five kilometers north of Curtea de Argeș, situated on a rocky hill north of the Arefu village. The fortress can only be reached by climbing 1480 steps (level difference of 80m).
The role of the fortress was to ensure refuge for the ruler and to shelter a small garrison. It was built in two stages: first the donjon tower in the 13th century, probably during the legendary ruler Negru Voda of Wallachia; secondly, the walls and the semicircular towers, built during the 15th century during the rule of Vlad Țepes. He recognized the huge potential of Poenari, because of its position. Therefore, in 1457 he ordered that Poenari would be repaired and consolidated in order to be his castle.
From an architectural point of view, the central tower presents Transylvanian influences and the walls present Byzantine influences.
Unfortunately, because of the minor role in the context of the battle against Ottomans, after 1550 the fortress was abandoned. After an earthquake, the north part of the wall came down along with the rock which supported it. The actual restoration is dated beginning with 1972.
A legend says that during 1462, Vlad Țepes was chased and cornered by the army of Mehmet II forcing him to retreat with some of his soldiers in the Poenari fortress. The Turks besieged the fortress, bombed it from a mountain next to the fortress and destroyed its walls. The ruler managed to flee to the Arefu village and here he met seven brothers who were blacksmiths and at his request they changed the horses shoes, putting them inversely. The pursuers were misled and they went in the wrong direction. In this way Vlad Țepes managed to return to rule his army.
Also another legend says, the Impaler’s wife flung herself out of the window of Poenari Fortress, declaring that she “would rather have her body rot and be eaten by the fish of the Argeș” that be captured by the Turks, who were then besieging the castle.