Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Poenari Castle (The Original, Real Castle Dracula) on the Wallachia - Transylvania border, Romania

In the early 13th century, high within the Transylvania Alps, Wallachian rulers built a castle over looking the Argeş River valley.  Sitting on the steep edge of a canyon on the Transylvania border, Poenari Castle was a superb fortification which was very hard to get to.  After changing hands over the centuries, the castle eventually fell into ruin.  However, many say that spirits haunt the castle ruins and the surrounding valleys.  Hauntings thought to be triggered by a dark and evil time in Wallachia and Transylvania when the fortification was known as Castel Dracula, home of Dracula.

Poenari Castle (The Original Real Castle Dracula) on the Wallachia - Transylvania border, Romania

Two hundred years after it was constructed and partially destroyed from war, Poenari Castle was rebuilt by the Prince of Wallachia, Vlad Tepes or Vlad III in hopes that it would serve as a fortress to protect against the invading Ottoman Empire.  He was born in 1431, the son of Vlad II who was known as Dracul or Dragon, hence Vlad III was called Dracula or son of the Dragon.  

Vlad III Tepes, Vlad the Impaler or known by some as Dracula

Vlad III was an evil ruler who took no mercy on those who opposed him including priests, women, and their children.  One of his first acts was to invite nobles responsible for the death of his family members into a hall for a feast.  He then locked them inside and set the structure on fire.  Setting the pace for what would become a reign of terror.

One of Dracula's favorite means of torturing and killing those who opposed him was to impale them on large pointed steaks driven into the ground while they were still alive.  For those who did not perish immediately, it sometimes took days for them to die.  Vlad would impale victims by the thousands when invading a town or city.  He would leave these impaled victims for months on end forming a macabre forest of dead, serving as a warning to the those invading his territory.  This technique worked well as approaching armies that saw these forests of death, turned back out of fear.  It was after Vlad passed and could no longer be feared that many referred to him as Vlad the Impaler.

Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler also known as Dracula, dines among a forest of impaled victims during his 15th century evil reign of terror

It is also said that Vlad III had the bizarre pleasure of occasionally drinking the blood of his victims.  Perhaps he felt that it would make him more powerful if he absorbed their blood into his own body.  This and his evil reputation as well as the fact that the name Dracula meant "The Devil" according to some lore, may have given rise and inspiration to the literary legend of Dracula that we know today. Bram Stoker actually modeled his character and story setting in Transylvania and Dracula himself.  Visitors who wish to get a feel for the story book setting can visit Hotel Castel Dracula in Bistritav, Romania which was built to accommodate Dracula fans visiting the town where the story was based.  Nearby, about 60km to the east of
Poenari Castle, is Bran Castle which is commonly mistaken to be Dracula's Castle.  It is said that Vlad III actually only stayed in this medieval fortress a short time as it was one of his outposts in the defense against the Ottomans.

Hotel Castel Dracula in Bistritav where the story book setting of Bram Stoker's Dracula took place
Bran Castle in Bran, Romania is often mistakenly referred to as Dracula's Castle although it was one of his strongholds and he did stay there for a time, but it was not his residence.

Castle Poenari, which is the "real" Dracula's Castle, was abandoned a couple of centuries after Dracula died in 1476.  It was partially destroyed by a land slide in the 17th century, but an attempt was made at restoring the castle foundation.  The walls and turrets survive to this day and still stand on the rock precipice overlooking the Argeş River along the scenic Transfăgără
şan Road.  There are few who dare venture there because it is a long 1400 step climb to reach the castle ruins.  However, some of those who have made it and have actually spent the night there claim to have seen some very bizarre phenomenon.  Strange eerie glowing lights have been spotted in and about the castle ruins.  They are erratic in nature and have also been seen approaching from the valley below. Apparently, one group of paranormal investigators spending the night on the mountain were so scared after seeing floating lights approaching from below, they left before they made it through the night and did not even finish their investigation.

High in the Transylvanian Alps, lies the ruins of Poenari or Castle Dracula

It is also thought that Poenari may be haunted by the spirit of Vlad III's wife.  It is said she could no longer bear the evil wrath of Dracula or some say she did not want to be captured by the advancing Ottoman army and jumped off of one of the towers to her death.  The lights or orbs seem to migrate to the castle location and it is almost as if the spirits who have died by the hand of Dracula are returning to take vengeance on him.

Perched on a steep precipice in the Transylvanian Alps, lies the ruins of Poenari or Castle Dracula


  1. Evil my ass. Vlad was not evil.

  2. Offended, much? Close friend of yours, Vlad the Impaler?

  3. He brought peace. His methods of vengeance were a tad extreme, but they were effective. Also, to my knowledge, he did not impale in quite so haphazard a manner as is described here. He saved the impalement for criminals, high-standing prisoners, and traitors.

  4. Those woodcuts were propaganda made by Germans wishing to DEMONIZE Vlad Tepesh. There is NO evidence the man ever drank blood, or dined among the impaled- among many other popular misconceptions about him. You could honestly say he was a freedom fighter. But a nasty one..

  5. It was not uncommon for rulers in the day to be a "tad extreme". The real history of Vlad III would read more as a hero. Unless you were a fan of the Ottoman empire. I read that the ruler of the Ottoman empire at the time and Vlad actually spent time in school together when they were younger. Not sure about that. But the story goes that impatient with the progress northward the Ottoman ruler went to survey what was happening and was so freaked out by the implements of his men and others that he turned round "we cannot fight this thing"

  6. It's easy to speak about the past, safe in our warm house with every convenience at the ready. But before you could dial 911 and help would come speeding, it was a much different day. There was no room for pussy footing. The loss of land meant death. An invading army would kill the men, rape the women, and destroy everything in its path. It was necessary to take measures which we now consider sadistic. But ask yourself, what lengths would you go to protect your son, your daughter, your wife, your home? Any sane person would answer victory no matter the price.

  7. EXACTLY my point. this is a heavily biased post. and not because I watched the movie, but there was an actual research done on this subject. there is politics, economics and social incidents involved. from what I know, he was a freedom fighter. his methods were harsh, but only for foreign criminals (TURKS) , and high status criminals (some domestic) but for a good cause. INFACT, people in his kingdom loved him, and they looked upto him as a hero.