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Sighișoara, A Medieval Hilltop Town

Sighisoara, Transylvania, Romania
Strada Tamplârilor (Carpenter’s Street)
When I was planning a trip to Romania, the place I wanted to visit the most was Sighisoara (pronounced see gui sho ara; the ghi is the same sound as gui in guild). It was the one place that called to me among all the pretty little towns in the country. Perhaps it was the image of colorful houses and the rustic ambience that appealed to me the most. I knew how much farther away Sighisoara is from the capital, Bucharest, and I studied all the options of getting there on my own. I just couldn’t imagine going to Romania without seeing Sighisoara.

Sighisoara, Transylvania, Romania
Citadel or Town Square (Piața Cetății)
Sighisoara sits on top of a hill surrounded by medieval fortifications. It is like a fairytale village with its storybook setting, cobblestone streets, towers, a covered stairway, an intriguing history complete with an evil prince and an impressive clock tower.

Clock Tower, Sighisoara, Romania
Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas)
The 64-meter Clock tower is perhaps the first thing you see as you approach the upper town (Citadel). It has announced the time of day or night since the 17th century when the clock was installed. It served as the main entrance to the fortified upper town which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The view of Sighisoara from the Tower is unparalleled. As an added attraction, the History Museum is also housed in the Tower.

House of Vlad Dracul

Vlad Dracul, the father of Vlad III, the Impaler (and perhaps the inspiration behind the novel, Dracula) lived here from 1431-1435. It is assumed that Vlad III was born here. As the son of Vlad Dracul, he is called Vlad Dracula which means son of Dracul. Dracul was so called because he was a member of the Order of the Dragon (dracul).

Vlad Țepeș, the Impaler (Vlad Dracula)
While Vlad Țepeș is viewed as a cruel and brutal ruler because of his method of killing the enemy by impalement, but he is also seen by historians as an important historical figure for his role in defending Wallachia from the incursions of the Ottoman Empire, protecting Romanian lands as well as stopping the infighting among the boyar (war lords). He is a national hero of Romania.

  Dominican Monastery Church (Biserica Mânâsterii Dominicane)
This is a Lutheran Church from the 13th century. It became the parochial church of the Saxon community in the 16th century. The German speaking Saxons settled in Schässburg, now Sighișoara, in the 12th century upon the invitation of the Hungarian king, Geza II. They were tasked to defend the southern border of the Hungarian kingdom. And as their settlement prospered with its guilds and craft shops, Sighișoara became an important commercial center. The Saxons began the construction of the walls of Sighișoara.

Church on the Hill (Bisereca din Deal)
Above the Citadel is a hill (Upper Citadel) with a Lutheran church constructed between 1345 and 1525. It was later restored due to damages caused by the Hungarian siege and an earthquake in 1838. The Schola Seminarium Republicae or the Joseph Haltrich High School stands beside the Church. It has existed since 1619. One of the original towers of Sighișoara, the Ropemakers’ Tower, is also found here.

 
Covered Stairway  (Scholar’s Staircase)
To protect the students from adverse weather conditions, a covered staircase with 175 steps was built leading to the Upper Citadel and the school.

Portions of the fortifications surrounding the Citadel have been preserved to this day. 

Tinsmith’s Tower (Turnul Cositorarilor)
There are nine remaining towers left of the original 14 that once surrounded the Citadel. Every guild built their own tower which they had to guard and maintain.

Bootmaker’s Tower (Turnul Cismarilor)

How can you not love a place with trailing jasmine perfuming the air?

View of lower town 
Can you spot the dormer windows in the shape of eyes? They are reminiscent of the ubiquitous eyes in Sibiu. An interesting feature of the eyes in the photo above are the tears flowing down from each of the upper four eyes. I don’t know its purpose or what it signifies.

 Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church (Biserica Sfânta Treime)
The Holy Trinity Church was constructed between 1934-37 in Neo-Byzantine style. It’s located on the northern bank of of the Tarnâva Mare River in the lower town.

How to get to Sighișoara:
I was fortunate to go on a two-day private tour with Nicolas Experience Tours to Sighișoara, Sibiu, Brașov, Bran and Snagov Monastery. Here’s my review of Nicolas Experience Tours which I submitted to Trust Pilot:
It's often difficult to find tours that cater to solo travelers. I was glad to have found Nicolas Experience Tours to take me to the places I wanted to see on my first visit to Romania. I learned so much about the people and places we visited at an easy pace and tasted local delicacies like the delicious elongated crepes from Sibiu. I saw more than I expected and have a greater appreciation of the country, thanks to Nicolas who is a superb and patient guide.
For more information about Nicolas Experience Tours, follow this link: https://experience-tours.ro/
There are also train and bus options to get to Sighișoara from Bucharest, Brașov and Sibiu. Check rome2rio.com for details.

Where to stay:
Mercure Hotel is in the lower town. If you’re driving, you’ll find plenty of parking spaces here. My room was spacious and had two separate toilets aside from the fireplace and dining area. This part of the lower town is quiet and relaxed. There’s a restaurant onsite with both indoor and outdoor seating. Follow this link for reservations: all.accor.com.



*****

Images by TravelswithCharie


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