The castle is located on a cliff, on the West side of the Transfăgărăşan road in Argeş County (Căpățânenii Pământeni village of the Arefu commune) on a canyon formed on the Argeş River valley, close to the Făgăraş Mountains.
Poenari Castle was erected around the beginning of the 13th century by the rulers of Wallachia. Around the 14th century, Poenari was the main citadel of the Basarab rulers. In the next few decades, the name and the residents changed a few times but eventually the castle was abandoned and left in ruins.
However, in the 15th century, realizing the potential for a castle perched high on a steep precipice of rock, Vlad III the Impaler repaired and consolidated the structure, making it one of his main fortresses. Although the castle was used for many years after Vlad's death in 1476, it eventually was abandoned again in the first half of the 16th century and was in ruins by the 17th century. Due to its size and location, control of the castle was difficult to take, even by natural forces. However, in 1888, a landslide brought down a portion of the castle which crashed into the river far below. Nonetheless, the castle was slightly repaired and the walls and its towers still stand today. To reach the castle, visitors need to climb 1,480 steps.
Claims that the Poenari Castle would be the "real" Castle Dracula as featured in Bram Stoker's famous Dracula novel have no basis in Stoker's book. Stoker never heard of the Poenari Castle. It is ca. 200 km away from the novel's place of action in the north-east corner of Transylvania. As discovered by the Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos, Stoker's own handwritten research notes confirm that the novelist had a specific location in that region for the Vampire's stronghold in mind while writing his novel: an empty mountain top 2,033 m high, located in the Transylvanian Carpathian Mountains, near the former border with Moldavia.
In Popular Culture
A modern rendering of Poenari Castle was featured in the 2013 STARZ television series Da Vinci's Demons in the episode titled "The Devil" in which Leonardo Da Vinci travels to Poenari Castle in Wallachia to meet with Vlad III.
The episode "The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula" of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries show in the '70s takes place inside "Dracula's Castle" in "Poenari". Shots of the castle used in the episode are Poenari Castle, though the episode shows folks driving up to the castle gates for a rock festival—impossible to do, as you must climb stairs to get anywhere near the ruins.
- Hadden, Robert Lee. 1975. "A Night Spent in Prince Dracula's Ancient Castle." Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC newspaper). February 23, 1975, page B5.
- Cooper, Aaron (Oct 30, 2010). "Staking out Dracula's castle in Romania". CNN. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- See Hans Corneel de Roos, The Ultimate Dracula, Moonlake Editions, Munich, 2012.
- Photos from the castle and visitors' information
- Some pictures from the Castle
- Speculative drawings of what the castle could have looked like by illustrator Salgood Sam.
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