An Adventure through Transylvania: Bran Castle and Brasov

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.

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Bran Castle at Night

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.

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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.

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The Hidden Master Stairwell in Bran Castle

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.

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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.

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The View from the Top of Bran Castle

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.

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Brasov at Night (with the Food Festival Glowing Off in the Distance)

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.

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My Room in the Hotel Bella Muzica
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The Restaurant in the Hotel Bella Muzica

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.

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JUNO Wine Garden
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The Barrel Tables You Can Sit In at JUNO Wine Garden

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!

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer. Malorie grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she loved sports, the outdoors, animals, and all forms of art. She took to acting at a young age, so it was no surprise when she decided to go to college for theatre. While in college, Malorie studied body movement with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, voice in Herefordshire, England with Frankie Armstrong, and the business of theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Malorie moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles after receiving her BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon arriving in LA, Malorie participated in the Miss California USA 2011 Pageant where she won the “Friend’s Choice” Award (by popular vote) and received a beautiful award for it.

While living on the West Coast, Malorie accumulated over 40 acting credits working on a variety of television shows, web series, and indie films, such as the sci-fi movie “Dracano,” the Biography Channel show “My Haunted House,” the tv pilot “Model Citizen” with Angie Everhart, and the award-winning indie film “Amelia 2.0.”

Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show: “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book.

In 2022, Malorie was thrilled to become a member of the Explorer’s Club through her work on scientific travel. Her experiences volunteering on archaeological and anthropological expeditions as well as with animal conservation allowed her entry into the exclusive club. Since then, Malorie has focused more on scientific travel.

Malorie’s show “Weird World Adventures” releases on Amazon Prime Video in the Spring of 2024! Stay tuned as Malorie brings the strangest wonders of the world to you!

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