Sibiu - European Cultural Capital in 2007

Located in the heart of Transylvania, the city of Sibiu (Hermannstadt in German) was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built in the 12th century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons. Like Sighisoara and Brasov, Sibiu has a distinctly Germanic feeling that can be felt during a walking tour of Old Town, which retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade. It was named by Forbes  “Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live“, and we believe that the title was gained rightly.

Nowadays, Sibiu is a pedestrian-friendly city with two easily accessible levels: the Upper town, home to most of Sibiu’s historic sights, and the Lower town, lined with colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking the river Cibin. Traditionally, the Upper town was the wealthier part and commercial outlet, while the Lower town served as the manufacturing area.

Suspended in time and encircled by beautiful architectural buildings, the Grand Square (Piata Mare) has established itself as Sibiu Old Town’s most prominent landmark. Actually, for travel lovers who just want to explore the streets of the city, the Grand Square is a the perfect place to stroll and unwind, to linger over a cup of coffee in one of the sidewalk cafes in a sunny summer morning, or to indulge in delicious local pastries and welcoming decors, while outside, frisky snowflakes and cheerful Christmas stalls herald the winter. No matter the season, there’s always something going on here, and even if it’s not, you can still soak up the city’s fairy-tale ambiance and its positive vibe. The Grand Square houses also one of the world’s oldest museums – the National Brukenthal Museum (1870, home to a vast collection of art and rare books.), the striking Council Tower and a surprising mix of cafes, shops and restaurants. The stunning parade of architectural styles includes Baroque, Art Nouveau and Renaissance structures, making the city to have a distinctive charm.

The Liars’ Bridge, Romania’s first cast-iron bridge, is another pride of the city and a place that gave rise to a variety of legends. The bridge lies next to the Small Square (Piata Mica), and the street bellow connects the Upper Town with the Lower Town.

The Huet Square is dominated by the imposing Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary, a stunning Gothic-style church built in the 14th century. Inside lies the largest organ in southeastern Europe.

Another particularity of the city is Sibiu’s rooftops. Most of the buildings in the Old Town are endowed with tall attics with small eye-shaped windows overlooking the city. Locals call them “The City’s Eyes”, and they are a characteristic feature of Sibiu’s architecture. In 2007, Sibiu was named European Cultural Capital, and after this event it is wonderful to observe how the title received has changed the city not only on the surfaice (enlarged infrastructure, dynamic development, etc) but also on the inside. Sibiu has managed to develope a wonderful cultural scene which is now brimming with all sorts of events, including film and theater festivals, concerts, medieval fairs or art exhibitions, and most of them take place in the Grand Square.

Sibiu is a city full of life and creativity and moreover an attractive place for photographers, offering beautiful light, many interesting sights and spectacular panoramic views. It is a unique city with a heartbeat that you can actually feel by stepping on the medieval and full of history streets, being a city that awaits you with open arms and heart!

Source: Sibiu, European Cultural Capital