Poenari Castle, also known as Poenari Citadel or Fortress, is a ruined castle in Romania, on the cliffs of the mountains (at a height of 860 meters), notable for its connection to Vlad the Impaler.
The construction of this castle began in the 13th century, under the rule of the Black King. In the decades that followed, the name and the residents changed a few times but eventually the castle was abandoned and left in ruins. It was Vlad the Impaler that brought it back to life in the 15th century.
The castle was used for many years after Vlad’s death in 1476, but eventually it was abandoned again in the first half of the 16th century and was in ruins by the 17th century. In 1970, Romanian authorities decided to make this place a little more tourist friendly and built 1.480 steps in the rock of the mountain so that people would have easier access. Unfortunately, the northern part of the fortress doesn’t exist anymore because of an earthquake that brought down the rock on which it was built.
The location of Poenari Castle
The castle is located on a cliff, on the West side of the “Transfăgărăşan” road in Argeş County (Arefu village) near a canyon formed on the Argeş River valley, close to the Făgăraş Mountains. Its placement is not nearly random. From this citadel one can have easy and permanent control of the surroundings. The scene offers the advantage of good scouting of the area. Due to its size and location, control of the castle was difficult to take, even by natural forces.
Vlad and the legend of impaling boyars (Romanian noblemen and landlords) on Easter holidays
The legend says that at one time, during his reign in Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler noticed the defence potential of the Poenari Castle. So he decided to rehabilitate it. He knew that not all the people in the nearby town of Targoviste were on his side. Most of them were Boyars who were plotting against him. So Vlad decided to use them in reinforcing the old Castle of Poenari. In the first day of Easter, as the legend says, Vlad and his men attacked the boyars who were celebrating. He impaled the old ones and started to walk with them, in their holiday clothes, on spikes. Frightened, the other boyars swore to obey him. He gathered all the people and commanded that they would start the reinforcement of the Poenari Fortress. The chronicles of that time note that those people worked so hard at the castle that their clothes got torn to pieces. Many of them died of exhaustion.