Sighisoara is located on the Tarnava River in Mures county, in the historic region of Transylvania. German craftsmen and merchants, the Transylvanian Saxons, were invited here by the King of Hungary during the 12th century, to settle and defend the frontier. Central Sighisoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city and it has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July. Sighisoara is a popular tourist destination due to its well preserved walled old town. The landmark of the city is The Clock Tower, a 64 meter high tower build in 1556. It is presently a Museum of History.
The city played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighişoara became one of the most important cities of Transilvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it. It is estimated that during the 16th and the 17th centuries sighişoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches. The Wallachian prince Vlad Dracul (father of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), who lived in exile in the town, let minted coins in the city (otherwise coinage was the monopoly of the Hungarian kings in the Kingdom of Hungary) and issued the first document listing the city's Romanian name, Sighişoara.
● Sighişoara Medieval Festival: During the annual event, the town receives around ~30,000 tourists, doubling its population. Numerous cultural events take place during the 3 days of the festival - theatre, indoor and outdoor music concerts, handicraft demonstrations and exhibitions, painting, sculpture, seminars, film projections etc.
● Pro Etnica - annual interethnic music and art festival, with indoor and outdoor performances (music, dance, film) of representatives of most ethnic groups living in Romania.
● Sighişoara Blues Festival
What to visit?
► Clock Tower ("Turnul cu Ceas") - Built in 1360 and standing at 60 meters tall atop the citadel hill. History museum inside, balcony with a great view on the top.
► Monastery Church ("Biserica Mânăstirii") - Lutheran church in late Gothic style, located next to the Clock Tower, built starting with 1291 by the Dominican Order
► Weapon Museum - next to Vlad's birthplace. Very small, but it contains an interesting selection of medieval weapons (swords, arrows, etc.).
► Covered Staircase ("Scara Şcolarilor") - an old stone staircase with a wooden roof along the whole span. This leads up to the Church on the Hill, the cemetery and the Joseph Haltrich High School (a.k.a. "School from the Hill").
► Church on the Hill ("Biserica din Deal") - Lutheran church in late Gothic style, contains many frescoes and a crypt. Close to the cemetery on the side of the hill, which contains many German tombstones.
► Vlad Dracul House ("Casa Vlad Dracul") - allegedly the place where Vlad Tepes "The Impaler" (a.k.a. "Draculea") was born.
► Bust of Vlad Tepes - located around the corner from his birthplace, within sight of the Clock Tower.
Outside the Citadel:
► Orthodox Cathedral - located across the Târnava river
► Corneşti Church ("Biserica din Corneşti") - oldest Orthodox church in town, built in 1797, located in the "Corneşti" neighbourhood
► Vila Franka - a restaurant on a hill surveying the Târnava valley, offers an outstanding panorama point. Can be reached by car or on foot (~1 hour walk/hike from the Citadel)
In 2007, Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture (together with Luxembourg).
Sibiu, which is located in central Romania, in the provice of Transylvania, is one of Romania's best-maintained and most-visited medieval cities. It is also one of Romania's most important cultural centres, home to the Brukenthal Museum, which is renowned in central Europe. The city of 170,000 was founded in 1190 by German settlers, and is also home to Romania's largest German population. While today it only makes up 1.6% of the city's population, Sibiu maintains an important German heritage in terms of culture.
In the 14th century, it was already an important trade center and it was home to the Universitas Saxorum, the assembly of Germans in Transylvania. In the 17th century, Sibiu was considered the easternmost city to be part of the European sphere; it was also the eastern terminus of postal routes. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the city became the second and later the first most important center of Transylvanian Romanian ethnics. The first Romanian-owned bank (The Albina Bank) had its headquarters here, as did the ASTRA (Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and Romanian's People Culture). After the
Romanian Orthodox Church was granted status in the Habsburg Empire in the 1860’s, Sibiu became the Metropolitan seat, and the city is still regarded as the third most important center of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Sibiu was the meeting-place of the Transylvanian Diet, which had taken its most representative form after the Empire agreed to extend voting rights in the region. After World War I, when Austria-Hungary was dissolved, Sibiu became part of Romania; the majority of its population was still German (until 1941) and counted large Romanian and Hungarian communities. Starting from the 1950s and until after 1990, most of the city's ethnic Germans emigrated to Germany
The old city of Sibiu lies on the right bank of the Cibin River, on a hill situated at about 200 m from the river. It consists of two distinct entities: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Traditionally, the Upper Town was the wealthier part and commercial outlet, while the Lower Town served as the manufacturing area.
The Lower Town (Romanian: Oraşul de jos) comprises the area between the river and the hill, and it developed around the earliest fortifications. The streets are long and quite wide for medieval city standards, with small city squares at places. The architecture is rather rustic: typically two-storey houses with tall roofs and gates opening passages to inner courts.
Most of the exterior fortifications were lost to industrial development and modern urban planning in the late 19th century; only one or two towers still exist. A building associated with newer urbanism of the period is the Independenţa Highschool.
This area has the oldest church in the city, dating back to 1292.
The Upper Town (Romanian: Oraşul de sus) is organised around three city squares and a set of streets along the line of the hill. As the main area for burgher activities, the area contains most points of interest in Sibiu.
The Large Square (Romanian: Piaţa Mare, German: Großer Ring) is, as its name suggests, the largest square of the city, and has been the center of the city since the 16th century. 142 m long and 93 m wide, it is one of the largest ones in Transylvania.
Brukenthal Palace, one of the most important Baroque monuments in Romania, lies on the north-western corner of the square. It was erected between 1777 and 1787 as the main residence for the Governor of Transylvania Samuel von Brukenthal. It houses the main part of the National Brukenthal Museum, opened in 1817.
The Radu Stanca National Theatre is one of the leading Romanian theatres. With origins dating back to 1787, it has both a Romanian-language and a German-language section, and presents an average of five shows a week.
The Gong Theatre is specialised in puppetry, mime and non-conventional shows for children and teenagers. It also presents shows in both Romanian and German.
The State Philharmonic of Sibiu presents weekly classical music concerts, and educational concerts for children and teenagers. The concerts take place in the newly restored Thalia Hall, a concert and theatre hall dating from 1787, situated along the old city fortifications. Weekly organ concerts are organised at the Evangelical Cathedral during summers, and thematic concerts are presented by the Faculty of Theology choir at the Orthodox Cathedral.
Several festivals are organised yearly in Sibiu, the most prestigious of them being the Theatre Festival, organized each spring at the end of May. The ArtMania rock festival is held every Summer since 2006 and from 2008 the Rockin' Transilvania Festival is also held in Sibiu. The oldest Jazz Festival in Romania is organized here, as well as the "Carl Filtsch" festival for young classical piano players, the "Astra Film" documentary film festival, the Transylvania calling Festival a Multi Cultural 6 day Open Air Music festival! 26-31 July 2007, a medieval arts festival and many more smaller cultural events.