If there was a single location I could have picked to feature on my show, Weird World Adventures, it was Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, nestled up in the hills in Bran, near Brasov in Transylvania. I’ve reported before that many don’t know why Bran Castle was referred to as Dracula’s castle. Some swear Bram Stoker modeled Dracula’s Castle in his book after Bran, though most don’t agree with that, as Bram Stoker never stepped foot in Bran Castle. It was also said that Vlad Tepes III never actually visited Bran Castle since he was the ruler of Wallachia (and not Transylvania) and because there’s no official documentation of him being there.
Well, I was lucky enough (and unbelievably THRILLED) to feature Bran Castle on Weird World Adventures where we had an exclusive interview with Matthew Petrisor with Bran Castle. He was an incredible interview (full video interview coming soon with the release of the show), and he assured me that Bran Castle was the setting for Dracula, as Bram Stoker had a friend visit that relayed the documentation and layout of the castle to Stoker as he wrote his book. He also assured me that Bran Castle was regularly visited by Vlad Tepes III when he was planning for battles and hiding his family. You see, he was born in Sighisoara and ruled in Wallachia, so it only made sense that Bran Castle was on his regular route between the two, so he would visit along the way.
Matthew pointed out that rulers have many castles they visit and stay in, so it only made sense Vlad Tepes III would visit Bran Castle as one of the many in his territory, especially since it was in between his birth place and the land he ruled.
Bran Castle is a massive twisting maze of stairs, towers, courtyards, and passages, all the things you would expect out of Dracula’s Castle. I liked the regular tours here the best of any in the area, as you buy admission and can move through the castle at your own pace, reading about the history at your own speed. I like this better than the large guided tours, though make no mistake, Bran Castle is pretty busy and bustling most of the time. You can also add on a trip into a tower featuring torture devices as well as a trip through the dungeon and secret passage out to your adventure, too.
For our visit, after the incredible interview of the castle with Matthew, we sat for awhile in the courtyard and soaked in the ambiance. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the dimly lit courtyard of Dracula’s Castle while feeling the cool night breeze and hearing the chirping from nearby bats. It most definitely lives up to its reputation, and I can’t recommend a visit there enough. It’s also important to note that Bran Castle can also be rented out for events, so be sure to inquire about that if you’d like to rent it out. Celebrities regularly do this. In fact, Nicholas Cage recently stayed the night in the master bedroom there in preparation for playing Dracula in the new movie Renfield, and Elon Musk rented out the castle for Halloween last year.
While Bran Castle should most definitely bring you into the Brasov area, it’s important to also get to experience Brasov the city, too. If you’re looking to stay deep in the heart of the city near the center square of the old town, I recommend staying at the Hotel Bella Muzica, as it’s charming, elegant, and put together in one of the old buildings of the town. There are regular (FREE!!) walking tours of the town in English, so be sure to hop on one of those and see the towers around the walls of the town, as well as the city center via a 2-hour tour. While we were there in town, we were lucky enough to experience a street food festival, which was amazing. Like any major city, there are countless events and festivals coming in and out of Brasov.
However, our all-time favorite spot which I have to mention is JUNO Wine Garden. JUNO was right behind the Hotel Bella Muzica, near the old town square (by the white and black tower, so you can visit those at night around your trip to JUNO), tucked away behind a brick wall. You walk off this little path into the garden, and immediately the ambiance is set.
Everything is green, charming, floral, and inviting. You can pick a table or a large old wine barrel to sit in and enjoy your wine, and cakes are available, as well. It’s the perfect spot to get away, watch the sun set, and enjoy a glass or two of wine, and that’s exactly what we did every night. JUNO can’t be ignored on your trip to Brasov. It was the hidden gem and surprise favorite find of my entire adventure through Eastern Europe.
All in all, I’m sure if Transylvania is on your list, Bran Castle will be there, too! It’s a must-visit, and I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to experience Brasov and JUNO Wine Garden around your adventure to Bran, too!