The fourth day of our journey through Romania was in Sibiu, a beautiful town in the south of Transylvania, whose historic quarter is a World Heritage Site. Visiting this city was a pleasure.
Brief history of Sibiu
Sibiu was founded as Hermannstadt and was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built in the XII century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons. This Germanic people arrived in Transylvania invited by King Géza II of Hungary (the Kingdom of Rumania did not exist until 1881) to defend the southeastern border of the Kingdom of Hungary and to take advantage of their skills in mining. Sibiu was the first locality that they raised and always remained as their cultural capital. Until World War II the Saxons were an ethnic group with a lot of representation in Transylvania (about 40% in Sibiu), but after the war most of them emigrated to Germany to avoid persecution of the Soviets, who accused them of supporting the Nazis . Today they represent 1% of the population of Sibiu, but their footprint is still very present.
From http://www.losapuntesdelviajero.com and romaniatourism.com.
Our day in Sibiu
The day started with a little weird breakfast at the hotel, but let’s try to focus on the beautiful things Romania has…today is the chance of Sibiu, so we left the hotel at 10:00am and visited the old town that is a set of cobbled alleys, stairways, passageways and picturesque houses that are organized around the two main squares: the Piaţa Mare (Great Square) and the Piaţă Mică (Little Square).
The Piaţa Mare, which lives up to its name, is a fantastic pedestrian square that serves as the city’s nerve center. There are some of the most important buildings in Sibiu and large events are organized there.
The best way to enjoy the view of the city is climbing the Turnul Sfatului (Council Tower), which we did yesterday for only 0.4 euros. Right next to this iconic building you can visit the Roman-Catholic Church, although the most outstanding place of the Great Square is the Brukenthal Palace, a beautiful baroque building that houses the Muzeul Naţional Brukenthal, First museum founded in Rumania (1817).
Passing below the Tower of the Council you will arrive at the Little Square, elongated and shaped like a horseshoe. This square is very popular for its restaurants, although it also has several notable buildings, such as the House of Arts (1789) or the Museum of Pharmacy. The great icon of the square, however, is the Bridge of Lies (1859), which the legend has it that the name derived from the merchants’ fiery disputes which flared up around it and the passionate but transitory vows of young lovers who often met here.
The bridge ends at the third most important square in the center: Huet Square, where the Evanghelică Cathedral is located.
We stopped at the Café Erasmus to have a little snack and coffee, to then walk to the Cathedral Sfânta Treime, a beautiful orthodox cathedral whose decoration will leave you speechless. Very close to it is the Evanghelică Sfântul Ioan Church, also beautiful.
And to complete the essential visits in Sibiu, you only have to continue south to see the remains of the old city walls, including the Arquebusiers Tower, the Potters Tower and Turnul Dulgherilor (Tower of the Carpenters) as emblem. Otherwise, to enjoy Sibiu just get lost in its streets. And do not lose sight of the famous “eyes” houses, all over the city!
Lunch time…today was our best selection, of course it was an Italian restaurant. It´s called MAX, and although it was a little expensive for Romania´s prices, it was worth it. (15€ per person, including dessert and drinks).
After this decent lunch, at 16:00, we head out to Sighisoara, with the idea of stopping in the Fortified Church of Biertan. The waiter we met last night recommended us to take an alternative road to go to the church, avoiding the “highway” which also means avoiding the massive trucks. Indeed, the road had no trucks but it was in terrible conditions.
The Fortified Churches of Transylvania are a set of churches built between the 11th and 13th centuries by the Saxon people. These villages built great walls in their most important cities, such as Sibiu, but in the smaller villages the churches acted as a temple and at the same time as a fortress. Seven of these churches were declared Patrimony of the Humanity and two of them are in the department of Sibiu: Biertan and Valea Viilor. We only stopped at the Biertan Church but since it took us an hour and half to get there, it was already close (closes at 17:00), so we walked around it and all I can say is that definitely it looks beautiful from the outside.
We continued the road, with better conditions, till we got to Sighisoara (25 minutes). Our little hotel was clean and with a very kind host. The rooms where a little small, but comfy enough to take a nap before walking to the city center.
Very close to our hotel, there is a little ramp with stairs that takes you to the center, where we had dinner in Cafe Martini (6 €), and after walking a little bit around the city we went to bed early.
Here is the map of our road trip again, in case you have no idea where all these places are. Remember each day is in one colour 🙂
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