Sighișoara citadel is one of the places one should not miss while in Central Romania. It doesn’t even have to be during the highly popular Medieval Festival that happens every year in July.
In fact, better to avoid that very weekend for your trip, if you’d like to have a quiet discovery of the citadel. If lots of events and crowds are your cup of tea, by all means, it’s a great place to travel back in time.
The trip to Sighișoara can be included in a broader trip of the central city of Brașov. From Bucharest, it will take about 4 hours, as it is a 300-kilometer drive via Brașov. There are other possible routes if you want to avoid the Bucharest – Brașov road, which is pretty busy at weekends, as it leads to some popular mountain resorts in Romania. The Râmnicu Vâlcea – Sibiu – Sighișoara route is an option, which, although slighlty longer, includes the beautiful Olt Valley and a stop to Sibiu on top of it.
Once in Sighișoara, prepare your walking shoes. The citadel is not large but it has plenty of little streets to discover. The best way to discover it is to let yourself be carried by the little streets inside the citadel. To get there, it will not be complicated, as you can see the citadel from almost everywhere in the city.
You will be amazed by the beautiful, colorful and (some) recently renovated small houses and by the small squares which invite one to have a coffee break.
The citadel dates back from the 12th century, when German craftsmen and merchants known as the Transylvanian Saxons were invited to Transylvania by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the frontiers. The town was then built on the premises of a former Roman fort. It shortly became an important commercial node and one of the most important cities of Transylvania. The city, at the time known as Segusvar, or Segesvár, had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches during the 16th and the 17th centuries. The Romanian name of Sighișoara was first mentioned in 1435, around the time when the Wallachian Prince Vlad Dracul (father of Vlad the Impaler, which was inspiration for the character Dracula) was exiled in the city. It was the Prince who issued the document with the city’s Romanian name and who minted coins in the city, even if coinage was the monopoly of the Hungarian kings. Some say Vlad the Impaler was born in Sighișoara, but historians have never proved it. It could be, however, a good excuse to visit the supposed Vlad Dracul’s house in Sighișoara, also named the Dragon House, which is located close to the Clock Tower and the Venetian House.
The small medieval fortified city in Central Sighișoara is very well preserved and has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. With authentic medieval architecture, Sighișoara is one of the few fortified towns that are still inhabited, so spending a few nights in the citadel itself will be possible. There will also be accomodation available in the lower town, outside the walls of the citadel. For an amazing view of the entire city, climb the hill via the covered staircase – some 178 stairs. At the end of it, you will find the Evanghelical church and the adjoining cemetery.
Back in the citadel, when you’re done with long walks on the little streets and sipping coffee in the morning sun, go up the Clock Tower and see the seven figurines and the clock mechanism. This is another place to capture a beautiful image of the city. The Clock Tower itself will be in many of the pictures you’ll take of the citadel, as it dominates it. The same building hosts the history museum, with its Weapons Museum and the Torture Chamber, which should also be among your stops.
With its calm feel and many small things to discover, Sighișoara never gets boring, not even while sitting somewhere, doing nothing but admiring the view or imaginging how life must have been in the citadel centuries ago. A perfect weekend destination which is so ancient but never seems to get old!
Head to Biertan to visit the famous fortified church which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage site. Or just start the mountain biking, hiking, truffle searching adventure.
Just several kilometers from Sighisoara you will find the village of Danes, where you can try horse riding and visit a small zoo with wild animals.
By Corina Chirileasa