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21st January 2003

 

Poienari Stronghold

 

          27 km away from Curtea de Arges you can see the ruins of the Vlad the Impaler Domain, known today as Dracula Castle, which are built on a peak, near by the Arges spring, in Romania. It is a steep climb up 1,500 steps.

The Castle lays at an altitude of 850m, protected by abrupt slopes. The historians know the site as Poienari Stronghold, dated in 14th century and by compare is smaller and narrower than other constructions of the time(33m W, 40m L).

The construction, perfectly adapted to the terrain couldn’t host a garrison larger than 30-40 men but enough to defend the position. Also the historians say that between the 12th century until the 16th century the stronghold was operational.

The castle was devastated many times during the turks sieges, but when The Impaler started his kingship he rebuild it using enthralled boyars.
          In 1457, sustained by a faithful army, the prince began a campaign for liberation, destroying his enemies. During the Easter, he arrested a big number of boyars with their wives and their children, many of them being immediately impaled. Others were chained and dragged to Poienari, forced to rebuild the castle in ruins.
          Once it was finished, the fortress seemed unbreakable; from its 5 towers, the soldiers could catch the enemies in a crossfire. The walls of stone, very thick, doubled with bricks could resist to cannon salvos extremely easy. The legend tells us, that for his last precaution, the Impaler made a secret passage from the fountain of the castle, through the mountain, towards a cave nearby the river.
          But against all odds, he was defeated by turks, that sieged the Poienari, in 1462. Desperate, his wife committed suicide, drowning in the river, falling down from one tower. The Impaler, it said, ranaway using the secret passage. Later, he regain the throne, but is killed in 1476, probably by an assassin. After his second wife and his only son left, the castle was abandon until 1960, when Raymond T. McNally and R. Teodorescu found the exact place of the ruins.





 Close to the Castle is the village of Arefu where the villagers are descended from the servants who rescued Vlad from a Turkish siege.
           I consider Poienari Stronghold a wonder in Romania because it was built on a peak, a long time ago, when the people didn’t have the technology to lift the blocks of stone 850m in the air.

Written by

Stefan Dobrin Cosmin

 









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