Sibiu- The European Capital of Culture
Also known under the German name Hermannstadt, Sibiu is a ‘must-see’ for every traveler that comes to Romania.
In 2007 the city was designated as the European Capital of Culture, which led to several years of extended restorations. Nowadays tourists can take a walk through its charming historical center, ‘get lost’ on medieval streets and squares surrounded by historical buildings. The architectural style was influenced by the three cultures, Romanian, German and Hungarian, that coexisted in this place.
The city was established in the 12th century by the German colonists, known here as Saxons and since then it had always been an important center of the German community of Transylvania. In the 17th century Sibiu was considered the most Eastern city of Europe.
- The Big Square
The true symbol of the city, a place with important historical connotations, Sibiu’s Big Square is one of the largest squares in Transylvania. In the 15th century it was the main cereal market and also the place for public meetings and executions.
As you walk through the square, you can admire fascinating Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture: the Brukenthal Palace, the Roman Emperor Hotel and Blue Star Inn where the Austrian Emperor Josef II stayed in 1773.
In December 1989, the Big Square was the focal point of the revolution in Sibiu, a fact commemorated by a memorial plate set in the granite pavement. Every year, the square hosts ArtMania, one of the most important rock festivals in the country.
- The Small Square
Located between the Big Square and the Huet Square, the Small Square is the old commercial center of the city and one of the cultural focus points of modern Sibiu.
This area was established between the 14th and the 16th centuries and it’s characterized by arches and the loggias which the old merchants used to protect their goods, the unusual dormer windows, which the locals call “the eyes of the city” and the forged iron lamps suspended from various architectural elements.
The Pharmacy History Museum is housed here in the former chemist’s shop “La Ursul Negru”, where Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy worked for the best part of his life.
Around the square, tourists will find bars and restaurants.
- The Liar’s Bridge
Take a step on the most mythical place in Sibiu!
Connecting the two medieval neighbourhoods of Sibiu, the Lower Town and the Upper Town, the Liar’s Bridge is a place surrounded by several legends.
One of them says that the bridge “feels” every lie uttered by those who cross it and it starts to growl and creak in a threatening manner. Other legends mention the lies of lovers or of the merchants selling their goods in the area.
In reality, the name of the bridge seems to originate in misinterpretation as the bridge had no support pillars, it was called the Liegenbrucke in German- the lying bridge-a homophone of the word Lugenbrucke- the liar’s bridge.
- “Franz Binder” Universal Ethnography Museum
The Ethnography Museum is part of the Astra National Museum Complex. Housed by a beautiful Neo-gothic building in the Small Square, the museum has a permanent exhibition called “Universal Art and Culture” that was established during the last century. The numerous art objects were provided by many collectors, originating from North America, the Nile spring region, China, Japan, Oceania, Asia Minor, Brazil, Lapland and Australia.
For visitors interested in Romania’s communist past, the Museum holds the gift collection of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
- The Passage of the Stairs
The passage of the Stairs, also known as the “Needle Wall”, is considered one of the most picturesque parts of the Old Town.
The passage was built in the 13th century from stone and brick and it connects the Upper Town to the Lower Town by two flights of steps and arches which follow the fortified walls of the Evangelical Church.
- The Evangelical Cathedral
The Evangelical Cathedral is Sibiu’s most impressive building. The imposing Gothic construction can be seen from almost any part of the city due to its 73 metres steeple, the tallest in Transylvania.
The cathedral is located in the Huet Square and it was raised in the 16th century on the site of a Roman basilica dating from the 12th century.
The church has a Baroque organ made by a Slovak craftsman in 1671 which replaced the first organ brought to Sibiu in the 16th century. In 1914 a large church organ was installed, the largest in South-Eastern Europe. It was completely refurbished in 1997 and organ recitals now take place from June to September.
The statue of Bishop Georg Daniel Teutsch erected in 1899 can be admired in front of the church.
- Dumbrava Forest
Located in the south-west of Sibiu, the Dumbrava forest covers an area of 1,000 hectares. Here tourists can visit one of the largest and most impressive open air museums in Europe. The Museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation comprises over 300 rural dwellings, together with churches, inss and a host of working water wheels and wind mills representing rural technology from all over Romania.
More than half of the trees in the forest are over 100 years old with some of the oaks more than 200 years old. The forest is home for many deer, squirrels, wild boar and foxes and a great variety of birds including finches, woodpeckers, jays, owls and ravens.
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