If you ever found the story of Dracula and his mysterious castle fascinating, visiting Romania’s Transylvania and Poenari Castle is probably in your bucket list. Although many people consider Bran castle the official home of the man behind the Dracula legend, he actually spent only a couple of days there. His real home was Poenari Castle.
The story is a legendary known to many, a confusing mixture of truth, history, legend, and fiction due to the convolution between the novel Dracula and the factual history of Vlad III Dracula “The Impaler,” whose name inspired the book. Bram Stoker modeled some of his main character on the more basic facts about Dracula’s actual life.
The true Dracula (Turk-impaling Prince of Wallachia) fell in love with Poenari Castle in the 15th century, and realizing its potential as a major stronghold with an amazing vantage point, consolidated and fixed up the crumbling fortress, making it one of his main places of residence.
It’s said that his first wife, Jusztina Szilagyi of Moldavia, flung herself from the towers of Poenari during a siege by Vlad’s Muslim brother, Radu Bey.
Before flinging herself into the Arges River below, she exclaimed she would rather rot and be eaten by the fish than be a captive of the Turks. She was big on dramatic exists, as well.
In the end the walls of Poenari would not keep Dracul the Dragon safe, but it was not the fortress that failed him, but his non-existing ability to have friends.
Vlad’s brother Radu cel Frumos was given the daunting task of leading the Ottoman Empire to victory, which positioned him directly at odds with his infamously brutal older brother. While Vlad could not be defeated in battle, his habit of alienating allies and undermining their authority became his downfall.
After running out of money for his mercenaries, he went to his supposed friends for help, but they quickly betrayed him and had him arrested for high treason. He managed to untangle himself and went on to declare a third reign, but an uphill battle that eventually killed him, and he never returned to his castle on the hill. It’s fair to say that he had in coming.
Poenari Castle is located on the right side of the Transfăgărăşan road in Argeş County, on a cliff near the Făgăraş Mountains. In 1888, a landslide brought a portion of the fortress crashing down the cliff, but otherwise the structure has been mildly maintained and can still be visited today, but to reach it you must climb over 1,000 steps.