Sighisoara is a small city in the Transylvania region of Romania, with a history dating back to the 1100s. Today it is famous for its dazzling well-preserved medieval architecture and fortifications, being one of the most beautiful and authentic small medieval towns in Europe and part of the UNESCO Heritage of Romania for its “outstanding testimony to the culture of the Transylvanian Saxons” (World Heritage Center).
Back in Medieval Time
Sighisoara is one of the the seven fortified citadels the Transylvanian Saxons built after their settlement in Central Romania starting with the 12th century. Having a strategic location in Transylvania, the city gained the chance to become an commercial and strategic point of Central Europe. Also due to its many craftsmen and tradesmen, Sighisoara (known by the german name Schespurch) had rapidly developed into a powerful economic and commercial center.
Fighting back the Ottoman invasions, the craftsmen and tradesmen who were now settled down in the area, have organized in guilds and fortified the settlement with 14 towers and five artillery bastions. Each guild takes responsibility for the maintenance and defense of one tower named after their craftsmanship, like the Blacksmiths Tower, and Sighisoara becomes the second political center of Transylvania during the 15th century
During this century, its Romanian name of Sighisoara is first mentioned in a document by Prince Vlad Dracul, the ruler of the territory south from the Carpathians and the father of Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes) who later inspired the myth of Dracula.
The most of the medieval attractions of the town can be found in the area called Sighisoara Citadel, located on a hill above the Lower Town:
- The City Square
In the city centre of Sighisoara, you can admire the historical buildings of the small City Square where most of the commercial activity took place in the past. Here you’ll find the Church of the Dominican Monastery, first attested in 1298, the Museum of Weapons located in the house of birth of Vlad the Impaler or the Stag House from the 17th century. From the City Square you can also easily reach the other defensive towers like the Tailors’ Tower or the Cobblers’ Tower.
- The Scholar Stairs
A distinctive attraction of the town is the Scholars’ Stairs, built in 1642 to protect school children during winter time that connects the City Square with the Church on the Hill, the Ropemakers’ Tower and the Evangelical Cemetery. If you’ll climb the 175 steps you’ll reach the most peaceful part of medieval Sighisoara and we strongly suggest you don’t miss the chance of the vast open view of the town and its green surroundings.
- The Clock Tower
It is probably the most popular of the landmarks of Sighisoara, being the tallest and the most imposing of the nine preserved towers that guards the citadel entry. It was used until 1556 for the reunions of the Town Council and owing to its height, the Clock Tower offers an excellent view on the historical center and the whole town of Sighisoara. Moreover, the Clock Tower attracts every day tourists in front of the building in order to participate to a wonderful celebration: every day the wooden figurines of the tower’s two-plate clock appear to announce the start and the end of the working day. The Clock Tower also hosts the History Museum of Sighisoara and you can see exposed various instruments of torture, weapons and crafts from the medieval times.
When to visit:
Perhaps the best time to visit this amazing saxon heritage, it is during the summer when even if the town is crowded with tourists, the town of Sighisoara hosts the Medieval Festival – a spectacular event which has the main purpose to introduce you in a lost but magic world, giving you an amazing show of history!
With cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and a pedestrian-friendly Old Town, it’s difficult not to fall in love with Sighisoara, a medieval city which looks today much as it did 500 years ago, making from Sighisoara a great destination for those of you in search of authentic experiences.