Poienari Citadel

Top choice in Wallachia

The Poienari Citadel was once a powerful fortress guarding entry to a strategic pass linking Wallachia with Transylvania. The castle's vantage point was recognised as early as the 13th century, when Wallachian leaders first built a tower to guard the pass. Two centuries later Vlad Ţepeş enlarged the castle, using it as both a fortress and a prison. Legend has it most of the work was carried out by captured Turks.

These days there's not much of the castle left to see, but it's still well worth the short trip north from Curtea de Argeş (30km) to take in the spectacular setting and to make the invigorating climb (1480 steps) to the top. The entrance to the citadel lies just at the start of the towering Transfăgărășan road, so it's an especially easy stopover if you're planning on crossing the mountains here.