Located at a distance of 300 km from Bucharest, Sighisoara is a place where you can feel history on every lane of its Citadel. I think the first and foremost reason why travelers come to Sighisoara is its Citadel, inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or maybe the fact that it is the birthplace of Dracula. How about you? Which reason could be yours?
Let’s first learn a bit about Sighisoara Citadel
The origins of Sighisoara city go back to Roman times. The current Sighisoara Citadel is located in the center of the city, and was built by Saxon settlers in the 13th century and was called Schäßburg then. The impressive defence system made it the most difficult to conquer of all the fortresses in Transylvania.
In 1999 Citadel was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as “outstanding testimony to the culture of the Transylvanian Saxons”, thanks to the quality and conservation of its extraordinary cultural heritage. Today Sighisoara is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe with narrow streets and charming houses.So how to spend a day in this colorful town? Here is my plan!
Climb the Clock Tower
The Clock Tower, 64 metres tall, one of the symbols of Sighisoara, guards the citadel entry. It is visible from any point of the city centre. The Clock Tower built in late 14th century offers an excellent view from the last floor balcony over the historical center and the whole town of Sighisoara. The main attraction of the tower is the clock with the Baroque lime wood statues with a height of 0.80 metres depicting the pagan gods impersonating the days of the week: Diana, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the Sun. There is the History Museum inside the tower with thematic exhibitions in each room, starting from the ancient times. You can also see the mechanism of the clock and the figurines that have been announcing the exact hour every single day for the past hundreds of years. Not far from the Clock Tower there is the Church of the Dominican Monastery. First mentioned in historical sources at the end of 13th century as part of a Dominican monastic settlement, it became the Saxons' main Lutheran church in the middle of 16th century.
Wander in the streets of Citadel
A walk through the town's hilly streets with their original medieval architecture, a magical mix of winding cobbled alleys, steep stairways, secluded squares, towers, turrets and the carefully preserved citadel, is like stepping back in time. You can admire the historical buildings from the small squares in the Upper Town where most of the commercial activity took place in the past. From the City Square, you’re only a few meters away from medieval towers like the Tailors’ Tower or the Cobblers’ Tower. Practical tip: while Museum in Clocktower has its opening hours, Citadel is open 24/7 for you to enjoy.
Look for the emblematic Deer House
The Deer House owes its name to the two deer painted on the upper corner of the house. What you see is images of the two deer united by a single head. The house was built in the 17th century and it looks today very much the same as when it was built. An inscription on the wall tells us that it was renovated in 1691 by Michael Deli, the owner, after the fire of 1676.
Try to find 9 standing towers of the Citadel
Nine towers still exist of the original 14, but most of them are closed for visitors. You can have fun trying to find all the towers that are still standing. The Clock Tower is easy. What about the other 8? The Tinsmiths' Tower (Turnul Cositorarilor), The Butchers' Tower (Turnul Măcelarilor), The Bootmakers' Tower, The Tailors' Tower (Turnul Croitorilor), The Furriers' Tower (Turnul Cojocarilor), The Ironsmiths' Tower (Turnul Fierarilor), The Tanners' Tower (Turnul Tăbăcarilor) and The Ropemakers' Tower (Turnul Frânghierilor), the only inhabited tower of the remaining nine.
Take the Scholars’ Stairs to the hilltop
The Scholars’ Stairs are a special attraction, built in the middle of the 17th century to protect school children during winter time. Similar to a tunnel, these wonderful stairs climb up to the hilltop, accessing the City Square with the School on the Hill, the Church on the Hill, the Rope Makers’ Tower and the Evangelical Cemetery. After the 175 steps, you’ll reach a peaceful part of medieval Sighisoara. Take your time to explore it.
Visit Church of the Hill and old cemetery
The Hill Church is a valuable architectural monument in Sighisoara, an Evangelical church built in several stages between 14th and 16th centuries. It is the fourth biggest Gothic church in Transylvania with a 42-metre high bell tower. After a tour inside, admiring one of the most representative Gothic constructions in Transylvania, take a walk in the old Evangelical Cemetery. It is the Saxon Cemetery that contains many German tombstones hundreds of years old, of Saxons, from mayors, doctors, scientists to ordinary people. From the cemetery, you can go back down on a small paved street without taking the stairs again.
Notice signs of Dracula in Citadel
Sighisoara is the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of the province of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. The prince of Wallachia has inspired Bram Stoker's fictional creation, Count Dracula. In the 15th century, the city’s Romanian name of Sighisoara was first mentioned in a document by Prince Vlad Dracula, the ruler of the territory south from the Carpathians and the father of Vlad the Impaler who was born here.
Tip: While we know this for a fact, there is no actual historical proof of the house where Dracula was born, so don’t get fooled by the local ‘house of Dracula’ attraction. Or maybe it does not matter actually?
Look for the Capitoline Wolf Statue on Oberth Square
Legend has it that Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus who were suckled by a wolf as babies. So why can the copies of this statue be found in at least 25 cities of Romania, including Sighisoara? The Capitoline Wolf is used in Romania as a symbol of the Latin origin of its inhabitants. In 1921, the Italian state made a gift to Romania of five copies of the Capitoline Wolf. In major cities, there are replicas of the original statues given as gifts from Italy to underline Roman origin of Romanians.
Address: Piața Hermann Oberth in Lower town.
Have a meal at the number 1 restaurant in Sighisoara
Yes, it is Joseph T. Restaurant & Wine Bar located in Central Park Hotel. It is a stylish traditional restaurant from the higher end of the price range. Wooden panels and the beautiful colors of stained glass add a special ambiance to the place. I very much liked the chandeliers. The food was delicious, the service was friendly and the selection of foods and drinks was impressive. So your money would be well spent and it’s still much cheaper than similar restaurants in Western Europe.
Address: Hermann Oberth Street 25 in Central Park Hotel.
Stay at Taschler Haus Boutique Hotel
If you plan to stay overnight in Sighisoara, Taschler House can add a medieval feel to it even while you sleep. The hotel is located in a Saxon house in the city center, offering accommodation next to the citadel’s wall, only 150m away from the famous Clocktower. The house has 10 rooms. Each of them tells a different story, having the names inspired by Saxon craftsmen trades with specific symbols and decorations typical of that time.
Address: Piața Hermann Oberth 4Like it? Pin it!Make sure to include Sighisoara in your Romania road trip! What would be your reason to visit Sighisoara? Share in the comments section!
Author: Anita Sāne
About the author