Being an outstanding testimony to the culture of the Transylvanian
Saxons, Sighisoara is the perfect example of a small
fortified city in the border region between the Latin-oriented
culture of central Europe and the Byzantine-Orthodox culture
of south-eastern Europe. Founded by German craftsmen and merchants
known as the Saxons of Transylvania, Sighisoara played
an important strategic and commercial role on the fringes
of central Europe for several centuries. It is no wonder why
Sighisoara is part of UNESCO World Heritage list since 1999.
This status was granted due to the preservation of the medieval
architecture and atmosphere that characterize the 164 houses
(all of them which are at least 300 years old), three churches
and 9 (out of 14 initially) towers, most of them still keeping
their original functions.
Sighisoara is a popular tourist destination, due to its well-preserved
walled old town. It has always fascinated its visitors by
its picturesque by-streets, houses, bastions, towers, churches,
donjons, covered stairs, arched and tunnel fronted houses
all making up a rich and unique out-door medieval museum.
The old town is a photographers' paradise!
The citadel was first attested in a written document in 1280,
under the name of Castrum Sex (Fort Six). The name must have
existed long before, as the Saxons built their walled town
on the ruins of a former Roman fortress whose shape was an
In the 14th century, the lower platform of the citadel was
occupied by many craftsmen, organized in guilds, which were
similar to those in Western Europe; the town saw an unprecedented
economic growth. It was strengthened and extended in the 15th
century. Today it counts 164 houses and 13 public buildings.
The landmark of the city is the Clock Tower, also known under
the name of the Council Tower, because it functioned as such
between the 14th-16th centuries. The Clock Tower is 64 m high,
of which 39.5 m are represented by the spire roof; it has
four turrets and a wood covered wall walk for watching from
the top floor.
Built in the 14th century, with 2 m thick walls, the tower
was meant to defend the main gate of the citadel, the ammunition
dump, the record office and the treasuries of the town. The
four turrets symbolized the judicial autonomy of the Town
Council who could apply, if necessary, the death penalty.
In 1648, a clock was set up at the top of the tower. Its mechanism
is unique in Romania and has been brought from Switzerland
in 1906. It gets in motion wood-made figurines which symbolize
the days of the week. For instance, a soldier stands for Tuesday,
the day of Mars, and Venus stands for Friday. At midnight
a figurine would leave its slot and show up in order to herald
the next day.
Starting from 1899, the Clock Tower
has housed the Museum of History, which mirrors the evolution
of crafts in Transylvania. The Museum holds also a medieval
pharmacy from 1670, interesting artifacts of ethnography,
a section of fine arts and a collection of clocks.
Near the Clock Tower, there is the Monastery Church built
in the Gothic style. First attested in a document in 1298,
it formerly belonged to the Dominican monks who lived in a
monastery placed north to the church. The monastery was demolished
in 1888, and its place was taken by the present town hall.
The church has acquired its present-day aspect in 1928-1929.
Near the church, there is Vlad Dracul's House, where Vlad
the Impaler's father, Vlad Dracul lived before he acceded
to Wallachia's throne. We shall stop for a drink in the house.
As an extension of the School Street, in-between the Fortress
Square and the upper platform of the Church on the Hill, one
can find another peculiarity of medieval architecture, namely
the Covered Wooden Stairway. It was built in the 17th century
and was meant to facilitate and protect the school-children's
and the believers' climb to school and respectively to church.
Originally the stairs had 300 steps, but after 1849, their
number was reduced to 175 only.
The Church on the Hill is Sighisoara's gem of architecture.
A representative edifice for the Gothic style in Transylvania,
it is placed on the School Hill (429 m high), and dominates
the town. The fortified church has been first mentioned in
a document in 1345. After the 1547 Reform, it became the main
church of the Saxon inhabitants of Sighisoara, who had shifted
from Roman Catholicism to Lutheranism. The church holds valuable
paintings made between 1483-1488 and furniture in the Renaissance
art style. The only Roman crypt known in Transylvania is to
be seen at the Church on the Hill, beneath the chancel, and
dates back to the 13th century.
CULTURAL SIGHTSEING TOUR
Duration: 2-3 hours.
Price: from 30 - 45 Euros.
Retro Travel - your travel partner in Transylvania!