This is the view looking up to Poienari Citadel, the true castle built by Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. Believe it or not, this view is the easiest route to the castle for would be invaders. It must have been a terrifying sight for Turk soldiers when the fortress was complete and the battlements were lined with Vlad's fierce army.
There were no trees or even shrubs shielding soldiers as they scrambled up the mountain side to reach Vlad's fortress. Vlad had all the vegetation cut down and either used for construction, firewood or simply burned to ashes. The entire climb was a killing zone. From the valley floor to the base of the citadel walls they were within range of archers and constantly being pelted by stones. Closer to the walls boiling water and flaming oil would be poured down on the Turkish solders, along with more stones. It must have seemed to the Turkish troops that they were in the Hell that Vlad was rumored to have visited and returned from on more than one occasion.
The climb up to Poienari Citadel advancing Turkish soldiers had to make.
Tourists wanting to reach Vlad's castle have it easier than invading armies, but not by much. There is a staircase hidden in the foliage for the less athletic, but even it is 1400 steps. Obviously this is not one of Romania's tourist attraction that sees throngs of visitors.
I took the route Vlad's enemies did, straight up. The slope is deceiving in this photo. It is no less that 60% at it's most level, and almost 90% in some places... and this is the only assailable side. The rear of the fortress is all sheer cliff faces. Still, the Turks managed to overrun it, but at a massive loss of life. Ironically, when they got to the castle Vlad and most of his army had escaped.
Poienari Citadel, the true castle of Vlad The Impaler, was built in 1459 by Turkish prisoners or war who were to die by impalement if they were unfortunate enough not to die while working as slave labor.
The 'castle' at the Tihuta Pass, said to be the 'real' castle of Dracula in communist era travel guides, was actual built by the ruling communist regime in 1980 as a tourist attraction. Whereas Bran Castle, the one identified by Bram Stoker as being Dracula's castle was built by Brasov Saxons in 1382, well before Vlad was born.
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