Visit one of the top 10 most idyllic places in Europe: Sibiu

Brasov - Sibiu road | Romania travel guideA world “of Saxon villages and simple peasant agriculture. Horse-drawn carts trundle slowly along the lanes; small old-fashioned haystacks line the fields and punctuate the horizons; smiling old men scythe in the fields and decoratively dressed women fork up the hay; poppies and other wild flowers enliven the meadows; wooden Saxon houses with their high gates and brightly coloured exteriors line the village streets; every telegraph pole seems to support a nesting crane newly arrived from Africa; Lutheran churches, with their outer defence walls, outnumber Orthodox and Catholic ones. This is the world beloved of Prince Charles, who has bought a manor house in the region. It is no longer Wagner’s world, but rather that of The Sound of Music.”

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.
And it is the only one designated European Cultural Capital for 2007, the year of Romania’s adhesion to European Union.
Almost every month they organize cultural events and their yearly Theater Festival is already famous.
Marvelously preserved, Sibiu is nicknamed the “sharp city” due to its cathedrals’ steeples and arrows.
Gently stroll along the cobbled street lined with little shops and open air restaurants.
Into the old medieval square you will feel like every step you take is being watched by the eyes in the red roofs.
This is the traditional way of looking out for intruders, not only of airing the attics.

Fortress Street

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

You will be fascinated by a remote street, with 600 years old defensive towers.
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 a day 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

Here is the most well known place of Sibiu.

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 took place in this square: public assemblies and executions.
Medieval nobility houses, slightly touched by time patina, bound the square.
Nowadays considered the center of the city, the most important events of the city are held here.
A beautiful place to take a stroll or spend a couple of hours, the place is a  little crowded during weekends. But it is extremely beautiful if good weather.

The oldest museum of Romania

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

It was also the place where the art promotion in this part of Europe began.
The palace was erected at the end of the 18th century. And it was both official residence for Baron Samuel von Brukenthal and shelter for his collections.
The Baroque halls on the 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.

Climb the Council Tower for pretty views

The most famous monument of Sibiu and one of its oldest towers (dating back to the late 1500s) 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 !
The large vaulted passage on the ground floor used to be painted at the beginning of the 20th century.
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 the Saxon revolutionaries flown the imperial flag on the tower to protest against the annexation of Transylvania to Hungary.
In 1998 Prince Charles visited it.

Walk around the Little Square

With the steeple of the Lutheran Cathedral hovering overhead, a view into Sibiu’s Lower Town, and the beautiful decay of the colorful buildings, this is one of the prettiest spots in Sibiu.
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, who 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)

The most well known landmark in the European cultural capital of Romania is surrounded by legends.

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 that Piata Mica being the merchants’ market, there were a lot of bargains here. After negotiations, going home with the merchandise, some buyers found they had been fooled. So they were coming back.  Getting to grips with the lying merchants, they ended throwing them out of the bridge in the laughters of the traders. 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 the wedding night, they were dragged and thrown off the bridge of false vows.

Stairs Tower

This is the only one of the 3 access gates in the first precinct of the fortress which was preserved.

Dating back to the 13th century, it is also the oldest construction preserved in the city.
The 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, where 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.

Weinkeller

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”.

Sibiu religious landmarks

In Sibiu, Romanians, Saxons and Hungarians have all worship places within walking distance from one another.

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
Both the altarpiece and the chair were made 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.

Roman-Catholic Cathedral

Built by Jesuits in the first half of the 18th century (1726-1733) in early Viennese Baroque style, it has a deceiving simple outside appearance.

The 47 m tower has a dome and 4 levels, on the ground floor having a  vaulted  gang that allows the access to the 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, being remade in their original shape and sanctified in 1931.
At the end opposite to the tower, the roof has a torch tower, replaced in 1927 with a large cross, then rebuilt in the 1970s (1971-1975).

The first door on the facade from the Great Square facilitates the access to the church while the second one goes to the parish house.
Despite its quite sober exterior, the cathedral hides a beautiful inside  realized by a German painter and distinguished by the massive pilasters supporting the vault.
Initially, the rectangular interior was whitewashed with colorless glass windows, the church being much brighter than now.

Saint Mary Gothic Lutheran Cathedral

It was raised in the 14th century on the site of an old Roman church from the 12th century.

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 that the city had the right to condemn those stepping out of line.
First tower organ, brought in the 16th century (1585), was replaced a century later (in 1671) by a Baroque style one made by a Slovak craftsman.
The new organ, built by Wilhelm Sauer Company (Frankfurt/Oder) was installed in 1915.
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.
It was made in the 15th century (1438) by the master Leonhardus, from the bronze of Turkish cannons captured 1 year before by Sibiu inhabitants.
With a calyx shape, it is decorated with Gothic inscriptions and 228 booklets in relief, most of them figuratively representing Byzantine influence.
Personalities of Sibiu were buried here for 3 centuries between 15th-18th century.
As an exception, in 1803, Baron Samuel von Brukenthal was buried in the vault near pulpit.
Tombstones dismantled from nave in 1853 were incorporated in the church walls, thus resulting a 67 tombstones gallery, unique in Romania.
After touring the stunning cathedral, climb the cathedral’s tower for gorgeous views of Sibiu.

Visit Sibiu and Medieval Transylvania

Over 15 years of experience in hospitality field
BA in Tourism Economy, MA in International Tourism, Tourism Manager License
Love making guests happy by giving them exceptional moments to cherish for life

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Happy tours !

Warm regards,
Kryss

 

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