Beautiful architecture, wooden fences, colorful window shutters, cobbled streets, the “eyes” on the rooftops (Saxon houses in Transylvania have these unique “eyelid” rooftop windows), wooden balconies, old typography, folk costumes, and antique stores, it’s all yours to discover in this lovely medieval fortress in the heart of Romania.
Founded by Transylvanian Saxons during the 12th century, Sighisoara is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval citadels in Europe. If you’re traveling through Transylvania, then a quick 74 mile (~1.6 km) trip from Brasov City to Sighisoara will spice up your local adventure. You can either take the train or a bus from wherever you are in Romania, however, you may need to change trains if, for example, you come to Sighisoara from Sibiu.
The historic center (the old town) of Sighisoara has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved architecture, so come explore this lovely citadel, get lost in the narrow cobblestone streets and bask in the quietness of time standing still.
Here’s a recommended walking tour that can be covered in roughly 3 hours:
The Clock Tower
This 14th century tower is basically the entry gate into the fortress and one of the most interesting spots in the city. It’s called the Clock Tower because it has a wooden clock mechanism with moving figurines that was installed in 1604. The seven wooden figurines each represents a weekday and symbolize various pagan gods: Diane (Monday), Mars (Tuesday), Mercury (Wednesday), Jupiter (Thursday), Venus (Friday), Saturn (Saturday) and the Sun (Sunday).
On the ground floor there’s the History Museum, which opened in 1899. The museum also includes the Torture Room (scary but very interesting; it’s located inside the city’s former prison) and the Weapons Collection (with pieces from the 13th - 19th century, including some African weaponry).
From there you can make your way to the wooden balcony at the top of the tower and enjoy the beautiful overview of the city. The admission fee to go inside the Clock Tower is around 5 RON (less than 1.5 USD). Opening hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 9 am-4 pm and it’s closed on Monday.
The Church on the Hill
This beautiful Gothic church stands tall on the southern side of the fortress and you can reach it by climbing the 175 steps of the covered wooden Scholars’ Stairs. It took 180 years for the church to be built and it was completed in 1525. The interior holds some fragile 15th century frescoes, Renaissance-style furniture and beautiful sculptures, like the carved pulpit from 1480 and the holy water fountain dating from the 15th century.
Next to the church, you’ll find the beautiful 17th century School on the Hill. Opposite the church, there’s the quiet Saxon Cemetery with interesting typography, old trees and cobbled alleys. And I don’t know about you, but for me, an old cemetery (especially with stones in a foreign language) is a good place for reflection, unique photos and a quick break from a stroll.
The Citadel Square
Making your way back to the heart of the city, you’ll find this colorful little square where, in the old days, street markets, craft fairs and public executions were held. Today, it feels so serene as if no turbulence has ever shadowed its charming beauty.
From this square, you can easily visit a few more interesting spots in Sighisoara, including:
• The Vlad Dracul House where Vlad the Impaler’s father was born, which today serves as a restaurant.
• The House With Stag (you won’t miss it because it has a stag head coming out of it) with beautiful 17th century Transylvanian Renaissance architectural details.
• The Venetian House (you will recognize it by the look of the windows) was built around the early 17th century in the Gothic style.
St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church
Moving forward to the northern side of the citadel, you’ll find the St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church that was built in 1896. It is one of the few modern buildings inside the citadel where most buildings date from the 15th century and earlier. It feels somewhat austere compared to the medieval tone of the city, but it’s definitely worth a visit as you continue your walk to the City Hall.
The Church of the Dominican Monastery
Found close to the Clock Tower, this gothic church was built in 1289 and it had a Dominican Monastery. The building of the old monastery was demolished and replaced with today’s City Hall. Inside the remaining church, you’ll find a beautiful bronze baptismal font from 1440, a stone door frame made in 1570, a collection of 17th century Oriental carpets and an organ built in 1680 (used even today).
The City Hall
Located on a nice plateau, the City Hall and the nearby park lets you catch your breath and enjoy the view over the modern half of the city.
Enjoy your day in Sighisoara!
I hope this brief tour of Sighisoara will entice you to explore the hidden alleys, the coffee shops and just feel the beauty of a place that once was one of the key fortresses standing at the border between the Latin world and the Byzantine Empire.
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