Have you heard that Sibiu is the most beautiful city of Romania? I just can join the others saying that and add that it is really a stunning place to visit. Sibiu (Hermannstadt in German) was built in the 12th century by Transylvanian Saxons, settlers from Germany. Sibiu's Old Town retains the grandeur of its earlier days. Like Sighisoara and Brasov, it has a distinctly Germanic feeling. Somewhat gray and forgotten during the years of socialism, it has reemerged after large renovation works started some twenty years ago. Sibiu has 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 a trading centre, while the Lower town served as the manufacturing area. By the way, Huffington Post Travel included Sibiu into a list of the most charming towns in Europe in 2014.
Here is my selection of things to do in the charming Sibu:
1 Walk around the Large Square
The Large Square has played many roles throughout the history of Sibiu. It has existed since the middle of the 14th century. In the middle ages guilds used the square as a market for selling their merchandise. It also hosted public gatherings and trials. Today the buildings surrounding the square can tell their story in their original ornaments. These architectural masterpieces once were owned by most prominent families and have been designated today as historical monuments. Wait a minute, do you have a feeling of being watched? Yes, it is so. You are being watched by the houses. Have a look, notice the eyeing rooftops. These tiny windows once used for ventilation and spying purposes have become Sibiu’s trademark. Everywhere you go, the town is watching over you.
2 Visit Brukenthal museum
Notice the Brukenthal Museum on the Large Square. Founded by Samuel Brukenthal, the governor of the province, the museum opened to public in 1817. It is the oldest museum in Romania. Built as a private house, the modern day museum is home to over 1000 works of art by artists as diverse as Van Mieris, Carriera, da Cadore, Raoux and Titian, and often includes modern works commissioned from local artists especially for the museum.
3 Climb the Council tower
The Council Tower makes the transition between the Small Square and the Great Square. The tower was built in the beginning of 13th century and has changed its face during the ages. It was rebuilt in late 16th century after a major earthquake. It served as gate tower, watchtower, prison, granary, museum and Belvedere. In its current form, the Council Tower has seven floors. While climbing up, notice the elaborate mechanism of the tower clock. At the top, you can enjoy postcard views over the city. Southwards you can enjoy the Large Square, the main shopping street and Sub Arini Park. Northwards and eastwards you can admire Terezian district, the railway station and Gustereitei Hill. Also notice the Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral nearby. Tip: if you want to have good pictures, ask for a window opening handle instead of shooting through the glass.
4 Listen to the legends of the Liars Bridge
No visit to Sibiu can be complete without visiting Liars Bridge. The cast iron bridge, the first of its kind in Romania, was built in the second half of 19th century. The origin of the name of the bridge might come from Liegebrucke (the Laying Bridge) or Lugenbrucke, namely a bridge of lies. There are many legends related to the bridge. One of them says that the bridge is still standing because everyone who crosses it has lied at least once in their life. Pictured my excellent guide Daniel Tichindelean from Sibiu Reisen If you want to learn more about the city I highly recommend this company. Even they are specialised to serve the German-speaking tourists, they also do great English walking tours. You can see a beautiful view of the Lower town from the bridge.
5 Notice a wooden pole at Journeymen House
The Journeymen House is the only of its kind in Romania. The tradition started in the middle ages when young journeymen travelled the world to learn different crafts. Today in August, many traditionally dressed journeymen show their skills in various crafts. Near Journeymen house you will notice a wooden pole with many spikes and all kinds of small sharp objects thrusted into it. Before leaving the city, journeymen had to stick some small belonging into the pole for a good luck.
6 Admire the renovated Thalia Hall
At this place, the theatre was opened in late 18th century, making it the oldest in Transylvania and the present territory of Romania. After renovation in 2004, the building houses the State Philharmonic of Sibiu. It presents weekly classical music concerts and educational concerts for children and teenagers. By the way, Sibiu International Theatre Festival is the biggest in Romania and the third biggest in Europe after the ones in Edinburgh and Avignon. The festival takes place every June, and for ten days the city is full of people committed to arts. There are several sections devoted to different kinds of performing arts—theatre, dance, contemporary circus, readings of new drama, and outdoor theatre performances.
7 Feel the history at Cetatii street
From Thalia hall, walk along Cetatii street to get a feeling of Sibiu fortification system that is more than 800 years old. Today just a few towers of initial fortification have survived alongside two walls, including these on Cetatii Street. Besides their military role, the towers also served as headquarters and storehouses for the guilds of old Hermannstadt. The three defensive towers of the third fortification belt have been named after the guilds that maintained them: the Harquebusiers Tower, the Potters Tower, and the Carpenters Tower. The old houses, brick walls and the towers make up the story of a medieval corner finely preserved to this day. Thirty-nine towers, each protected by different guilds, watched over medieval Sibiu, Romania. Seven 15th century towers have withstood the test of time, including the Carpenter's tower, one of the symbols of the city.
8 Have a local life feel at the city yard
When walking through Sibiu city centre, peek into the yards of the houses to feel the everyday life of Sibiu people. Stop for a while and watch the life of the locals. By the way, a house is watching you again!
9 Admire magnificent cathedrals and churches of Sibiu
The Holy Trinity Orthodox cathedral
Shaped like a Byzantine basilica, the cathedral resembles the Saint Sophia’s Cathedral of Istanbul. It was built in the early 20th century. The cathedral’s central feature is the dome, surrounded by four small turrets. The iconostasis and the dome were painted by artist Octavian Smigelschi. Address: Mitropoliei, nr. 33-35
The Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral
The Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary is the most famous Gothic-style church in Romania. Its massive 73 metres steeple is a landmark of the city. The Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral was built in the 14th century on the location of another 12th century church. For three centuries it served as a burial place for the mayors, earls and other personalities from Sibiu. The four turrets situated on top of the steeple were a sign to let foreigners know that the town had the right to sentence people to death. Address: Piața Hue
The Holy Trinity Roman-Catholic Church
This beautiful baroque structure with classical decorations was built in the early 18th century. The completely renovated interior is magnificent, with gold-laced walls and colorful ceiling frescoes. Intricate stone carvings cover much of the nave while side altars and colonnades glisten with pink marble. Organ recitals are usually held here once a week. Address: Piața Mare 3Like it? Pin it!
You might also enjoy reading about Things to do in Bucharest. Have you been to Sibiu? Share your impressions in the comments section!
Author: Anita Sane
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Bloglovin.