02 December 2007

Poienari Castle.

Third part of the documentary made by History Channel about Vlad the Impaler (Dracula).
Well, here today I have a pretty bad Internet connection, therefore I started posting after seeing just a part of the documentary. I thought it starts with what could be considered a mistake, made by many, probably due to the images presented in the German brochures that made Dracula famous in the XV-th century. I'm talking about the shape of the stakes: many historians (like Matei Cazacu, for example, consider the stakes where not sharpen at the top, as presented here and in every image one could see. The technique of impaling was perfected by Vlad and others, therefore the stakes were having a rounded top, so the impaled did not have the internal organs destroyed (that would have lead to a faster death). However, the next seconds give my confidence in History Channel’s documentaries back. Here you can read more about impaling.
The story of building Poienari Castle - the real castle Dracula is presented, with unforeseen images of how the castle looked before. The castle is built on the strategic place, from where the valley going to Vlad's Capital, Târgovişte, can be surveyed, but also the Valley descending from Făgăraş Mountains, that's from the neighbor Transylvania., where the merchants are threatening Vlad Dracula’s grip on power.
Since Vlad need to build to castle swiftly he relies on unconventional techniques and slave labor.
The Castle of Poienari seems to have started during Vlad's father, Vlad Dracul, but Dracula is the one that fortifies it. The Castle not only occupies to whole summit of the Poienari hill, but enlarges it. The walls surrounding the castle, still visible today, give it the strange appearance. The unusual building structure is made up of red brick, sitting on top of gray stone base. The walls are 9 feet thick, just imagine !! This was achieved by using a byzantine construction method: first of all the two external walls were built in brick, then infill the walls with stones. This combination was resulting in an absolutely powerful structure. What tights the walls together, so they made it thru the centuries was the lime mortar –the secret of Poienari castle’s survival in an area that is very close to an earthquake zone – the earthquakes took place in another area in Carpathians, Vrancea, in the Carpathian’s arch, only 200 km away from Poienari. It has the property that it does not completely set, but allows the walls to move, that is very useful in this earthquake situation. Therefore they don’t suffer severe cracks and damages as it would if it were cement. The construction methods used show that master builders must have been involved, as the techniques used are really advanced.
Everything needed to build Poienari Castle was available in the river valley below: sand for mortar, gravel and small rocks for the byzantine wall filler, steady river-stones that formed the castle’s base. When finished , the castle offer an almost perfect security and the control over a key strategic pass in the mountains, between Transylvania and Wallachia.

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