Idyllic EUROPEAN cities ~ SIBIU Cultural Capital

Enjoy secluded villages bursting with history

Brasov - Sibiu road | Romania travel guideOn the way to Sibiu, Saxon villages with simple peasant agriculture welcome you.

Horse-drawn carts slowly trundle along lanes while small old-fashioned haystacks line the fields punctuating the horizons.
Decoratively dressed women fork up the hay and smiling old men scythe in the fields.
Lots of poppies and other wild flowers enliven the meadows.
Wooden Saxon houses with their high gates and brightly colored exteriors line the village streets.
It seems that every telegraph pole support a nesting crane newly arrived from Africa.
Lutheran churches, with their outer defense walls, outnumber Orthodox and Catholic ones.
This is not Wagner’s world, but rather The Sound of Music and Prince Charles’s beloved world.
No wonder His Majesty bought a mansion in the region !


Visit one of the top 10 most idyllic places in Europe

Sibiu - 3* Michelin Green Guide (means it is worth a visit) - is one of the best cities to visit and one of the most charming one in Europe.

Marvelously preserved, Sibiu is nicknamed the “sharp city” due to its cathedrals’ steeples and arrows.
This is one of the best cities to visit and one of the most charming one in Europe.
In 2012 Forbes included it in top 10 most idyllic places in Europe.
The pretty town with cobbled streets was formerly the center of Transylvanian Saxons in Romania until World War II.
It is one of the most important religious and cultural centers in the country.
Here, Romanians, Saxons and Hungarians have all worship places within walking distance from one another.


Walk through the European Cultural Capital for 2007

Sibiu was European Cultural Capital in 2007, the year Romania adhered to European Union.

Almost every month they organize cultural events and their yearly Theater Festival is already famous.
Gently stroll along the cobbled street lined with little shops and open air restaurants.
Into the old medieval square you will feel like the eyes in the red roofs watch every step you take.
This is the traditional way of looking out for intruders, not only of airing the attics.


Fortress Street

Idyllic European cities Sibiu - Sibiu most beautiful street | Fortress Street

The former capital of all Saxon cities hundreds of years ago, Sibiu has been a large handicraft center.

A remote street, with 600 years old defensive towers will fascinate you.
In 2011 this street looked like the old one, formerly known as the Harteneck Street.
The travelling journeymen brought it to life.
They are a group of about 700 young people fully trained as carpenters, joiners, masons, stonemasons, sculptors and smiths.
Originally they are from Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Romania.
In 2010 they chose to travel for 3 years and one day.
They were wearing the journeymen’s uniform and hat and obeying to the rules imposed by their brotherhood.
This is how tens of craftsmen, men and women from all around Europe, showed off their skills and talent here.
Carpenters and joiners dressed in Middle Ages clothing made the tourists feeling the medieval atmosphere.


Big Square

Along history, it was main cereals market, fair, place of public executions, park or place open to traffic.

During the Middle Age – 14th century – the most important events related to city’s daily life were public assemblies and executions.
All took place in this square.
Medieval nobility houses, slightly touched by time patina, bound the square.
Today this is the most well known place of Sibiu, the city center where the most important local events are held.
If good weather, this is an extremely beautiful place to take a stroll or spend a couple of hours.
During weekends, the place is a  little crowded.


The oldest museum of Romania

This is one of the most remarkable monuments in late Baroque style in Romania.

Art promotion in this part of Europe began in this palace erected at the end of 18th century.
And it was both official residence for Baron Samuel von Brukenthal and shelter for his collections.
Baroque halls on first floor still preserve the original:
– canvas and silk wall,
– Rococo and Neo-classical white stoves and
– 18th century Transylvanian marquetry furniture.
Brukenthal Palace hosts the oldest museum of Romania.
It officially opened to the public in 1817, 3 years prior to the Louvre Museum in Paris.


Roman-Catholic Cathedral

In the first half of the 18th century (1726-1733) Jesuits built it in early Viennese Baroque style with a deceiving simple outside appearance.

The 47 m tower has a dome and 4 levels.
Its ground floor vaulted gang allows the access to  Little Square.
It houses a 2 dials clock and 3 massive bells weighing together a little over 1 ton.
Mounted for the first time in the 19th century they were confiscated and melted in 1916.
Remade in their original shape, these were sanctified in 1931.
At the end opposite to the tower, the roof has a torch tower.
Replaced in 1927 with a large cross, this was rebuilt in the 1970s (1971-1975).

First door on the facade from the Great Square allows access to the church while the second one goes to the parish house.
Cathedral’s quite sober exterior hides a beautiful inside made by a German painter and massive pilasters that support the vault.
Initially, the church was much brighter than now due to whitewashed rectangular interior with colorless glass windows.


Climb the Council Tower for pretty views

Sibiu's most famous monument and one of its oldest towers dates back to the late 1500s.

This hosts a small museum that definitely worth the effort of climbing its not quite easy stairs.
Not to mention it offers superb views over the old city, including the Lutheran Cathedral’s glistening tiled rooftop !
At the beginning of the 20th century, the large vaulted passage on the ground floor was painted.
A spiral stairs with 141 steps leads to the penultimate floor where you can see the clock mechanism.
Made in 1906 by a Saxon company, it was illuminated at night.

The tower had multiple usages, being access gate for about 100 years.
It lost its primacy with the fortification of the Upper City.
After that it remained a symbol of the city for the next 650 years.
It also served as cereal deposit, fire observation point and temporary arrest.
In the middle of the 20th century it was even a natural sciences museum.
In 1848 Saxon revolutionaries flown the imperial flag on the tower protesting against Transylvania’s annexation to Hungary.
Prince Charles visited it in 1998.


Walk around the Little Square

This is one of the prettiest spots in Sibiu.
Lutheran Cathedral’s steeple hovers its overhead.
It gives you a view into Sibiu’s Lower Town.
And the colorful buildings have a beautiful decay.
On certain days, look for a local craft fair.


Emil Sigerus Saxon Folk Art and Ethnography Museum

Founded in 1997, it was named after the collector Emil Sigerus.

This donated over 500 valuable objects including textiles, painted furniture, glass, tin, silverware, but especially Transylvanian ceramics.
At present its patrimony includes 8,900 items, organized in 3 collections: textiles – costumes – embroideries, painted furniture and ceramics.
Within the first collection there are 4,500 items from the 17th – 20th centuries.
These are extremely valuable and rare both in the national and foreign museums’ collections.


Cross the Lies’ Bridge (18th century)

A couple of legends surround the most well known city landmark.

Most of the locals avoid to say a lie while passing on the bridge.
They are afraid this will break under their lie weight.
Elders say the bridge has ears, a hard to imagine power and lot of intuition.
So with every untrue said, the bridge starts moaning from all joints.
Then, with a creepy noise, the balustrade is beginning to fail.
Within minutes the bridge beaks under the lie weight and brings the liar with his feet on the ground.

Another legend says a lot of bargains took place in the merchants’ market of Piata Mica.
After negotiations, on the way home, some buyers found they had been fooled.
So they were coming back.
Getting to grips with lying merchants, they ended throwing them out of the bridge in the traders’ laughters.
Thus, next time they came to Sibiu, the frighten merchants stopped cheating the locals.
The most tasted legend is that of the young couples in love.
These used to pass by night on the bridge swearing each other eternal love.
When reaching the topic of girl’s purity they all said were as clean as the tear.
Only that, after wedding night, they were dragged and thrown off the bridge of false vows.


Saint Mary Gothic Lutheran Cathedral

Raised in the 14th century on the site of an old Roman church from 12th century, this is really well-preserved.

The imposing cathedral dominates the cityscape with its 7 level tower.
Having 73.34 m height, this is the tallest in Transylvania.
The 4 corner towers were a sign to medieval visitors.
It meant the city had the right to condemn those stepping out of line.
In the 16th century (1585) they brought the first tower organ.
A century later (in 1671) they replaced it with a Baroque style one made by a Slovak craftsman.
In 1915 they installed a new organ, built by Wilhelm Sauer Company (Frankfurt/Oder).
At present there are only 2 other organs made by this company (in Berlin – Tempelhof and in Talin – Dom).
Renovated in 1997 the organ is now the largest in South-Eastern Europe.
During summer, organ concerts take place here every Wednesday night.

One of the most impressive Gothic halidoms in Romania, the cathedral has a particularly valuable mobile inventory.
In the choir you can admire one of the country’s most beautiful fonts.
Master Leonhardus made it in the 15th century (1438)  in a calyx shape.
He used the bronze of Turkish cannons captured 1 year before by Sibiu inhabitants.
Gothic inscriptions and 228 booklets in relief – most of them figuratively representing Byzantine influence – decorate it.
For 3 centuries, between 15th-18th century, they buried Sibiu’s personalities here.
The only exception was in 1803, Baron Samuel von Brukenthal being buried in the vault near pulpit.
In 1853 moving the tombstones from nave within church walls, it resulted a 67 tombstones gallery, unique in Romania.
After touring the stunning cathedral, climb the cathedral’s tower for gorgeous views of Sibiu.


Stairs Tower

City's oldest construction dates back to the 13th century.

From the 3 access gates in the fortress’ first precinct only this was preserved.

Its actual shape dates from the middle of the 16th century (1542).
The massive brick construction has, at the first floor, on both sides, vaulted passage ways.
One leads to the Stairs Passageway and the other to the Expiation Corner.
(This is located under the vaulted wall that separates the garden of the Parish House.)


Wander through Sibiu’s Lower Town

You cannot say you have really seen Sibiu without visiting also the Lower Town.

Once there, you are in the oldest part of the city. Here you can still see some of its old fortifications.
Here two-story medieval buildings painted in all color shades borders the narrow streets.
While exploring them, look for hidden alleyways, small squares and daily life scenes.
Like an old woman sweeping a step, kids playing in the street or a scrappy dog with struts.


Stairs’ Passageway

It connects the Lower Town to the Upper Town.
In time the Lower Town remained the old city with small colorful houses where peasants lived.
And the Upper Town became the new city center inhabited by the wealthier Saxons.



This little treasure was a surprise find.

We walked around the streets and found it along the Passage of Stairs.
Beautiful place !
Really friendly staff, who greeted us with all smiles and hospitality.
The guys had their specialty beef, which we agreed with the restaurant.
It was “Christmas on a plate”.


Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral

Step inside to admire its walls covered by frescoes and grand scale characteristic murals.

Built at the beginning of 20th century (1902-1904) following a fundraising.
The first donor was the Emperor Franz Joseph I himself who gave 1,000 yellow coins.
They made both the altarpiece and chair in Bucharest, of golden lime wood.
A villager from Sibiu county made the paintings.
The cupola has 15 m diameter while the 2 towers have 45 m height.
The great bell within the western tower weights over 1 ton.
Professor Nicolae Iorga was also present at the sanctification in 1906.


Visit Sibiu and Medieval Transylvania

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