Sighisoara- the medieval fairy tale
A small, fortified medieval town with walls that are still largely intact, Sighisoara will fascinate you with its cobbled streets, burgher houses, imposing churches and a magic atmosphere that will bring you back 500 years ago.
The town territory was occupied from ancient times. In the area was discovered the vestige of the Dacian fortress Sandava and the roman castrum Stenarum. In the 12th century the german colonists established the citadel of Sighisoara.
The construction of the fortress wall, which was to protect the citadel against Tatar and Ottoman raids, was begun in 1350 and lasted until 17th century. The 950 metre wall was initially 4 metres high, but this was subsequently increased by another 3-4 metres. The citadel had 14 towers and 4 bastions of which 9 towers and 3 bastions still exist.
In recognition of the cultural and historic importance of this medieval wonder, the citadel was registered in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1999.
In the heart of the citadel, you can find this small square that glows with light, color and life. Back in time, this was the place where craft fairs, street markets, public executions and witch trials were held.
Built in the second half of the 14th century, the Clock Tower, also known as the Council Tower is Sighisoara’s main point of attraction. The Tower is massive with a height of 64 metres and solid walls that are over 2 metres thick. The four small corner turrets on top of the tower symbolized the judicial autonomy of the Town Council, which could apply, if necessary, the death penalty.
The roof was destroyed several times and its current appearance dates from 1894, when the old roof was replaced with colorful ceramic tiles.
One of the most fascinating things about this Tower, is the intricate two-plate clock that has been working without interruption since the Midle Ages. The clock was set at the top of the tower at the beginning of the 17th century, with one dial facing the citadel and the other looking over the Lower City.
The clock has a set of seven figurines which face out over the Lower Town. Each of them represents one of the pagan gods and appears on the appropriate day of the week-Diana(Monday), Mars(Tuesday), Mercury(Wednesda), Jupiter(Thursday), Venus(Friday) Saturn(Saturday) and the Sun(Sunday). The figures facing the citadel are peace holding out an olive branch, justice with a set of scales and again wielding a sword and two angels for night and day.
The spire of the tower ends in a small golden sphere. At the top, there is a meteorological cock, which, turned around by air currents, forecasts the weather.
The Church of the Dominican Monastery
Just a few steps away from the Clock Tower, you will notice the Church of the Dominican Monastery. It was first mentioned in a document in 1298 and by 1556 it became the Saxon’s main Lutheran church.
The church is built in late-gothic style, with two naves and two rows of pillars. It was first restored in the 15th century and then again in the 16th century after the big fire of 1676. The presen-day look it’s the result of the last restoration that took place in 1929.
On the inside you can admire some valuable artistic objects, such as the bronze font dating back to 1440, the stone doorframe carved in 1570 in Transylvanian renaissance style and built into the northern wall of the church, the collection of 16th and 17th century Oriental carpets, a baroque organ and a fine altarpiece from 1680. Classical and baroque concerts are often held here.
One of the most representative gothic style structures in Transylvania is located in Sighisoara. The Church on the Hill is located at 1373 ft high and it was the main church of the saxon inhabitants of Sighisoara.
It was first mentioned in a document in 1345 and its construction lasted almost 200 years. On the inside the church was completely painted but in 1776 most of the old murals were destroyed and never recovered.
Nowadays visitors can admire fragments of murals from 1483-1488 and renaissance-style furniture.
. Opposite the church is the main entrance to a serene Saxon cemetery.
Also known as the Schoolboys’ Stairs, the Scholars’ Stairs represent an interesting piece of medieval architecture.
The covered stair-passage was built in 1642 and it connected the Citadel Square with the Church on the Hill. The passage had the important role to facilitate and protect schoolchildren and churchgoers on their climb to the school and church during wintertime.
At first, the passage had 300 steps, but after 1849, their number was reduced to 175.
Located in the Citadel Square, close to the Clock Tower, this ocher-colored house is the place where Vlad Tepes, the Romanian ruler that inspired famous character Dracula, was born in 1431. He lived with his father Vlad Dracul until 1435 when they moved to Targoviste.
Nowadays, on the ground floor of the house you can find a restaurant, while at the first floor you can visit the Museum of Weapons.
Among the most impressive towers that have been preserved to this day are:
1) The Ropemakers' Tower
This is one of the oldest buildings in Sighisoara, dating from the 13th century. Back in time, this tower had the role to defend the northwest corner of the hill.
2) The Tailors' Tower
The Tailor’s Tower was one of the tallest buildings of Sighisoara until 1676 when a fire destroyed its upper part.
Built in the 14th century, the tower was restored in 1935
3) The Cobblers' Tower
The Cobbler’s Tower has a beautiful baroque architecture, featuring a hexagonal base with sides of different lengths. Its roof houses a small observation tower.
Festival of Medieval Arts and Crafts (July)
Each year in the middle of the summer, medieval Transylvania comes back to life. So, if you travel to Sighisoara in July, you can witness one of the greatest medieval festivals of Europe.
Troubadour music, costume parades, street entertainers, handicraft displays and medieval ceremonies- this event offers the chance to immerse yourself in the lore and legends of Transylvania.