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Poienari - Dracula’s Refugee Place

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Autor: Dorian Cobuz Ioana Moldoveanu 22 Iun 2005 - 00:00
Poienari  -  Dracula’s Refugee Place


Four kilometers away from the Vidraru Lake, up on a peak, at 860 meters up in the mountains, the Poienari Citadel stands as the place where Vlad Tepes retired out of the way of the Turks. The ruler’s refugee place is hidden in all kind of stories.

Four kilometers away from the Vidraru Lake, up on a peak, at 860 meters up in the mountains, the Poienari Citadel stands as the place where Vlad Tepes retired out of the way of the Turks. The ruler’s refugee place is hidden in all kind of stories.

Coming closer to the Cetatuia Peak, one can see the stronghold far in the mountains. Getting to its thick walls takes huge effort these days as well, because one has to conquer the 1,480 stairs built in the hill’s coast. The light hardly goes through the trees’ branches hiding in the shadow the stairs that until 1972, when the stronghold was restored, were only a path made by Tepes’s horse.

Emptied of life and pierced with grass, the stronghold has only to resist to nowadays’ rains and punks, to the anger of Pompiliu Stan, its keeper.

THE LOOPHOLES. For 35 years, Mr. Pompiliu has been its "supervisor", as his chest nameplate says, and sees that the tourists pay the visiting fee, 20,000 lei. The old man walks every day 7 kilometers to get to work, as he comes from the Arefu village. He goes with the "moto-coach" to Capatanenii Pamantului, and then he walks. Every day he climbs the stairs to his "office", a little house surrounded by a concrete fence, with a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom, near the rustic bridge by the entrance in the fortress. Approximately 4,000 tourists visit the citadel every year. Pompilui seems to be offended by the legends regarding his workplace: "The foreigners come and ask about the phantoms and the skeletons found under the walls, but I can tell you there’s nothing like that in here". The storms are the only ones to fear up there, because there are times when it rains so hard that "one can hardly see anything".

HARASOAICA. The legend says the ruler, while running away from the Turks, passed through the city called today Arefu. Pompiliu thinks the name comes from the Dobra Harasoaica gipsy, who seems to have saved the ruler when he was looking for a way to get away from the Turks. The people cannot remember whether Harasoaica or the seven wise men helped him. Most of them say Tepes had been advised to wangle his horse in the opposite way. Others believe the ruler retired in the stronghold and the followers had been double-crossed and had fallen in a trap.

It is sure that the legend is based on facts. The villagers had been given lands by the one known as Vlad Dracul. He gave them 5,000 ha of woods. A hare’s skin from the National History Museum in Bucharest stands as proof for all this. When they gained power, the communists confiscated the woods, but, after the Revolution, the villagers went to Court for getting their lands back.

EXPLOITATION. The Poienari Citadel was to be included by the former Minister of Tourism, Dan Matei Agathon, in the touristy circuit named "On the Traces of Dracula", but it remained a project. The project regarded the building of a medieval motel between the walls of the stronghold. In this case, the mythology surrounding the fortress on the Cetatuia Peak would have been exploited. Until then, besides the cashing from the selling of the tickets, Poienari means money only for the owners of the two soft drinks kiosks at the basis of the Citadel’s stairs.

LEGENDS. The mystery surrounding the medieval walls from Capatanenii Pamantului is also based on the fact that its constructors are yet to be known. There are few saying it would be the work of the first members of the Basarabs, Negru Voda himself being included here. It seems the fortress has been raised in the 15th century and strengthened in the following century. The boyars punished by Tepes would have rebuilt it, working with their own hands. However, there are few certain facts regarding this citadel, while some people say the 1330 battle at Posada took place in the place we see it these days. Moreover, they say it had been an inspiration for Jules Verne, who remembers it in the "Castle from the Carpathians".
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