The oldest and most interesting part of the town lies at the end of a ridge that protrudes in the valley of the River Cibin. In the middle of the old town lies an incredible square, called the Great Square (Piața Mare). This square is framed with a couple of interesting houses. The most impressive are situated on the northern side. On the right-hand is the relatively ‘new’ Catholic Church, built between 1726 and 1733 by the Austrian Habsburg sovereigns (having conquered Transylvania in 1699), who demonstrated to their respective protestant and orthodox subjects the new constellation of power. The next building to the left houses the Tourist Information Center on the ground floor.
After 10 years of stagnation, the Romanians decided to vote for the Saxon, Klaus Johannis, who won the mayoral elections in 2000, and since then, has held office. Two hundred years earlier, there was also a Saxon who rendered outstanding services for the region.
Samuel von Brukenthal was the only Transylvanian governor during the Austro-Hungarian regency. He bequeathed a fabulous collection of paintings as well as real estate to the Saxon Nation. The impressive baroque building at the square’s exit is the Brukenthal castle. Today it serves as the main complex of the museum with the same name, with its world-renowned collection of Flemish masterpieces, but has a lot more to offer – in any case, worth a tour.
Every house could tell a story, but that’s part of what makes visiting Sibiu special. Leaving the square between Brukenthal castle and the Town Hall leads to the innermost point of the former three defensive rings (the Great Square was the third ). Huet Square (Piața Huet) is dominated by the Evangelical Church, dating from the 14th century. The Gothic church was finished around 1520. The building is currently under reconstruction. After many years of fundraising, the parish obtained EU funds that enabled restoration. Despite reconstruction work, do not miss the view from the tower. On a clear day the vantage point offers a delightful view over Sibiu, with the panorama of the Carpathians making a dramatic background.
Opposite the church entrance stands Brukenthal High School, a renowned school where pupils are still educated in German, thus attracting a lot of Romanian children with wealthy parents (Speaking German is a highly-prized asset in Romania!). Walk around the church and enjoy the view across the roofs of the lower town. If you have not noticed yet, keep an eye on the little windows in the roofs, or, perhaps, let them keep an eye on you – these eye-shaped windows are unique and almost exclusively found in Sibiu.
On the eastern corner of the square is a little bridge above the road to the lower town; this is the so-called Liar’s Bridge. On weekends there will often be a newly-wed couple posing there for their wedding photos. Directly to the right is the Small Square (Piața Mică), then the second fortification, now the pub mile, where on summer evenings crowds jostle for tables at the packed bars and pizzerias.