The Poenari Citadel is located in Arges County, 4 kilometers away from the Vidraru Barrage and the Transfagarasan road. It is a ruined castle built at a height of 860 meters, on a cliff of the Cetatea Mountain. The Poenari Citadel is directly connected to the renowned Vlad the Impaler, sometimes even called Vlad’s Castle, and it has been under a great deal of touristic and media attention.
The building dates back from the 13th century and it was under the possession of the Black King. The Citadel of Poenari underwent a series of name and residents changes throughout the years, only to be thereafter abandoned. However, in the 15th century, it was brought back to life, this time by Vlad the Impaler. After his death in 1476, Poenari continued to be in use, but along the 16th century it was left again in ruins.
Besides its connections to Vlad Dracul, the Poenari Citadel has another unique trait. The way tourists can reach it is by going up 1480 stairs. They were built in 1970, when Romanians decided to make the edifice more touristic and to provide an easier access to visitors.
In the present day, the fortress is missing one of its parts due to an earthquake.
Despite this, in the older days, the Poenari Citadel’s position was considered anything but random. The size and the location of this fortress would make it very hard for enemies to try and take control of the Citadel. This defence potential was obviously remarked by the Wallachian Vlad the Impaler, this being the reason he reconditioned it.
Under the reign of Dracula, the Poenari Citadel bears a few legends. One of them implies Vlad’s most known “hobby”, impaling disorderly men. Seeing as some Boyars were plotting against him, Vlad wanted to punish them by making them work for the restoration of Poenari. For this, he impaled the older men on the day of Easter, scaring the younger Boyars to death. So, the Boyars swore to obey the Impaler, who immediately ordered to begin the works on Poenari. It is believed that these Boyars even died from exhaustion, after having worked so hard on the Citadel.
The other legend is that of the Lady’s River, which says that the first wife of Dracula committed suicide here at Poenari, as she was terrified that she would be kidnapped during a Turks’ invasion. Legend says that her body crashed onto the rocks of a river. As the river became red due to her blood, it is now called the Lady’s River.
The legends that adorn the Citadel of Poenari, along with the splendor of the surrounding landscape incite the tourist to a hike and a grasp of Vlad the Impaler’s life.