Found in the center of Romania, the Southern part of Mureş county, Sighişoara is the city that harbors a history of thousands of years, a land that succeeded into fooling the passing of time and where the stories carried on from generation to generation.
The high towers, the well kept houses and the handy craftsmen made this museum-city, unique in the entire Central Europe, one of the main tourist attractions of our beautiful Romania. Due to its remarkable architecture and not only that, Sighişoara was surnamed the “Pearl of Transylvania” beginning with the 19th century. Although some historic writings say that the creation of the settlement was set some time at the end of the 12th century, the first document attestation dates from the year 1280, when Sighişoara was mentioned under the name of Castrum Sex. After the Hungarians conquered Transylvania, the king of Hungary, Geza the 2nd, brought German colonists to the neibghouring lands. They set their villages there and got involved in protecting the kingdom’s borders. Sighişoara was one of these Saxon villages created during the 12th and 13th centuries.
Due to its remarkable architecture Sighişoara was surnamed the “Pearl of Transylvania” beginning with the 19th century.
Along the years, the citadel of Sighişoara has not been avoided by hardship. The first one was the great Tatar invasion in 1241, when the citadel wasn’t yet fortified. Afterwards, the core of Sighişoara was strenghtened during the 13th century by building the inside walls. The defensive system was made of a 930 meters long wall, 14 defense towers and 5 artillery bastions. Presently, the only parts still kept are 9 towers, 3 bastions and a part of the interior wall. The most representative is the Clock Tower. The Clock Tower or the Hour Tower is the most important attraction of the citadel, the most representative edifice of the city. Built in order to protect the main entrance, the tower has 5 floors that, together with the balcony and the pyramidal roof, have a height of 64 meters. It got its name due to the clock adorned with figurines set on the fourth floor. On the bottom of the façade that is turned towards the city there is a drummer that signals every quarter of an hour. Next to it, the figurine of a long haired man exists, the image of the executioner. On the top side, there are seven puppets set on a rotary disk that represent the days of the week. Once the clock strikes 12 AM, the figurine of the day that had just finished moves, making room for the figurine of the day that starts. The mechanism of the tower clock can be found on the same floor. The clock has two faces with a diameter of 2,4 m put on the tower’s façade that are turned towards the citadel and the Bellow City. On the bottom of the niche that faces the citadel rests a sculpture of the Goddess of peace holding an olive branch. On the right there is a drummer wearing a blue shirt, who marks each new hour. The Goddess of justice sits above them, holding a balance in one hand and a sword in the other and having her eyes covered. On each side there is an angel announcing the day and night. In addition to that, the citadel is also the home of the Tower of Blacksmiths, Rope Makers, Butchers, Skinners, Shoe Makers, Tin Makers and Tanners, each belonging to another guild. It is difficult to determine what are the most important tourist attractions of Sighişoara and more than that, a hierarchy for them is hard to put together. “Transylvania’s Pearl” is a place whose atmosphere is unique and exceptional due to its individuality and the connection between its attractions.
Tourist attractions in Sighisoara
European medieval center of military, civil and ecclesiastic architecture, Sighisoara citadel is the only medieval citadel entirely inhabited in the South-Eastern part of Europe and now belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage.
In the same time, its location gives it a special place, the valley of Tîrnava Mare giving the thousands of tourists who come here yearly, the joy of coming back to these places rich with history, traditions, culture, art, a place with hospitable, cheerful and open people. A warm space, a citadel where you’ll always happily return, a country inside another country. When you visit these places, the medieval wars come to your mind because the citadel has been a sentinel in the way of the attackers. In the same time, you will immerse in traditions, you will be caught in the homage brought to the worlds of once upon a time, you will be invaded by the memories of ancestors, our ancestors. And what really astounds you is the special quietness that the great walls seem to keep so well, the peace that each and every one that comes here give to the others so much so that you begin to believe that you also belong to past centuries, as if you and history enjoyed making acquaintance. And when we pass the towers of shoemakers, skinners, tailors, butchers, tanners, blacksmiths and rope makers, but also the Clock Tower, we get used to the honor of the people who kept their own trades and we realize the richness of the guilds by discovering a charming world, a refuge for everyone.
THE CITADEL’S MARKET
A few centuries ago, trade could be made here. Today, you can curiously roam the Citadel’s Market trying to discover a part of the place’s traditions and legends. You are now in the Citadel’s heart and if you close your eyes only for a second, you could notice various goods neatly put on the counters, soldiers dressed in folk costumes, but also the famous drummer. You go back to the times of Vlad the Impeller, who, apparently, has protected these places, you find yourself in the times of the Romanian voivods, in the times of the attacks that put Sighișoara to great hardship, when the tours seemed the only ones that could protect it. And they succeeded – today we are here, all Romanians, and we are admired by entire nations who have came to get back to the past and to enjoy our times full of glory and covered in victory.
THE CLOCK TOWER
When you take your first step in the Citadel, you can’t help but admire the Gate Tower that can be found in the Eastern part and represents the main entrance in this world roamed for years, conquered by history and crossed by traditions. The fascinating symbol of the city, the Tower dates from the 14th century and has 64 meters in height. The fifth floor shelters a famous 17th century clock with Baroque rustic figurines. Here we can closely follow the significance offered by the embodiments of the main gods of the Roman and Greek mythology that are linked to astronomy, astrology and alchemy. From the loggia of the last floor, a superb panorama of the citadel and its surroundings can be admired. Starting with 1899, the rooms of the Clock Tour have been given to the city’s History Museum, it being the only one from the whole country to show the evolution of the craftsmen from Sighișoara and the entire Transylvania. Inside the museum, we can see themed archaeology, ceramics, ethnography, furniture, crafts, watch making rooms, but also the Weapons Room that can be found in a house nearby, and the Torture Room, found in the past chamber of the prison. The clock dates back to the year 1648, when Johann Kirtschel added the quarters of the hours and the figurines that represent the days of the week, that have been also remade by him after the fire of 1676.
THE TAILORS’ TOWER
And when you want to roam some more, you can try another entrance into the Citadel – The Grand Tower of the Back Gate, that dates back to the 13th-14th centuries, belonging to one of the richest guilds, the tailors’ one. As its massive walls seem to protect the entrance to this world that remains unknown, this tower appears to prove great simplicity, with two vaulted gangways that still keep the traces of the oak gates and the iron grids.
THE BLACKSMITHS’ TOWER
Built in 1631, this tower embodies an entire series of historical events, it brings back the memory of the times that have long burned down, when the blacksmiths were following their mission here, serving the Citadel. Today, here is where you will be able to visit numerous exhibitions, because the Tower hosts the Alma Mater Castrum Sex Plastic Artists Association.
THE MONASTERY CHURCH
One of the oldest historic monuments is the Church Monastery that dates back to 1298, it being a church that served the Dominican monks. Today, this important attraction of the Citadel hosts the Lutheran Evangelical Church. Found very close to the Clock Tower, it represents the supreme Christian symbol – in celebration days, the priest holds beautiful ceremonies and in the end he goes out of the church and greets every parishioner.
THE COUNTY PALACE
The building of Sighișoara’s city hall, it is a majestic and solid edifice, with thick walls, that shelters the municipality both in good and in tough times. The City hall represents a space covered in history and can be found very close to the Citadel’s market.
The Shoemakers’ Tower – dates back to 1521, but the history’s print seems to be older than that.
The Skinners’ Tower – destroyed by a devastating fire in 1676, but rebuilt afterwards.
The Butchers’ Tower – it was the protector of the Western part of Sighișoara, having been built in the same time with the walls of the Citadel.
The Pupils’ Stairs – it eased the pupils’ access to the Hill School.
The Tin maker’s Tower had numerous protection purposes, having shooting halls and being the first fortification system of the citadel.
The story outside the walls
A sleeping world, a frozen place, a special hum – they all seem to embody a space that, even though it has disappeared a long time ago, still exists. Sighișoara, the only place where the time seems to want to avoid, a part of the country where the glory and the dignity of our nation are still kept, both here and outside of the borders that make the passing to a modern, rich world, but lacking traditions and legends.
“Once upon a time” and maybe it still exists… this is how I would open my story about beautiful towers and exquisite foods. We dream of living in a fairytale world, where the place’s stories will draw the image of a happy, tender and old land… The museum city, where the drummers’ cries seem to still be heard and that keeps the story, but also years of legend and history, within it so well. You slowly roam the Citadel’s Market, you notice the thick walls, the peace and the silence. You look around and you believe you are dreaming, you are afraid time has stopped. You spin around and everything seems to look like what the fairytales want to transpose. You begin to wonder – what was then? And suddenly, the mind seems to want to abandon you and go back to centuries ago to enjoy the honor of the people from back then and to discover the secrets of a world hidden in the years’ walls. The mind’s lock wants to open up and you leave, leave and discover… You live in a medieval city, where princes and princesses walk around hand in hand on the rambling streets of the citadel. You face ordinary people, skilled craftsmen, witches, but also guards and knights of the Emperor. They all seem to know and keep a story hidden. They fear the Impeller. You are now on his land, a mystery that have all wanted to know, but it looks like the thick walls of the city want to keep it, proud that Bram Stocker wanted to know its story. You get to his house, to the place where he was born… The thick and high walls, the floor creaking, hidden corners… They all want to tell you something and make you go far away. Vlad the Impeller was born in 1428 in Sighișoara. His father, Vlad the Devil, was Valachia’s voivod, a well respected member of the Order of the Dragon who had received a black cloak for his great courage in protecting Christianity against Ottoman attacks. Beside the black and cruel legends that every vampire lover seems to give him, he had received his name from the word “dragon” and not from an association with unknown tyrannies. Nevertheless, it is frightening. You have known it, you go along, but you’re afraid of any stopping, of the evening, of the Tower’s puppets which, even if they are speechless, watch you and they wish to keep you in the tumultuous unknown world. Suddenly, the Tower Clock starts pounding. It tells you that the time has passed at a higher speed than you imagined. You turn around and you are now part of a vivid world that tries to discover the Citadel’s legend that now seems to survive in our hearts and that we enjoy to analyze from close by, each and every time we watch a richly preserved world. We are scared but, however, we stay, we are scared but we like it, we love to live in the past and – behold! – here is the place.
You live in a medieval city, where princes and princesses walk around hand in hand on the rambling streets of the citadel
Dracula House can be found on 5 Cositorarilor Street and it is a medieval restaurant where everybody who travels trying to discover the vampire, can eat here or visit Dracula’s chamber.