when old is still trendy…
Sighisoara’s old citadel is a must-see location when you visit Romania. If you don’t take my word for it, I hope the photos below will convince you. This Sighisoara visual guide will lead you through the streets of a medieval city just craving to be discovered.
You might ask yourselves… what’s a citadel? And I will be happy to answer that, once I google it. It is strange how you know words and you use them, but are unable to say what it means 😛 Well, a citadel is a fortress that commands a city. Let me tell you, Sighisoara citadel is the text book citadel. Perched on top of a hill, surrounded by thick stone walls and with defensive towers from place to place, the citadel still gives off that medieval air. Nowadays, the citadel is still inhabited and there are a lot of hotels and inns to choose from where you can spend a night or two, all the while enjoying the local atmosphere.
During my time in Sighisoara, I stayed at Casa Bertha, a wonderful small inn, run by an extraordinary couple. The inn is located in the citadel, so that gave me the opportunity to roam the streets of Sighisoara and take a lot of photos. Usually, the citadel is pretty full of tourists, as you can imagine. But, waking up at 6 am, gave me the opportunity to enjoy the fresh early morning air and go unhindered trough the old house and narrow streets.
you can never have enough colorful houses…
Sighisoara was first mentioned in an official document around the 13th century, but most of the houses that you can see today there are from the 18th century. They are brightly colored. It seems that the town council allows the owners to paint their houses only in certain colors, depending on the history reported at the city hall for that particular house. So, if the house was painted pink a hundred years ago, the owner of the house is bound to paint the house in the same color. I think this is a wonderful way to maintain the original air of the citadel, even in these times, when things are changing so fast. This is one of the reasons for which the citadel because a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most houses in the citadel are considered historical monuments and I couldn’t agree more!
defending the citadel…
Throughout its history, Sighisoara was a craftsmen’s town. Each of the guilds registered in Sighisoara used to have a defense tower built, meant to defend the city. Nowadays, not all towers are still standing, but you can still see some of them. Each tower was considered a fortress itself, so, if one tower fell, it didn’t mean that the citadel would be conquered.
The most important one, the “master-tower”, still stands tall at one of the entrances in the citadel. The Clock Tower, as it is officially called was built around the 14th century and, as opposed to the other towers, which were owned by each guild, this tower was a public good. With its 64 m height, it can be seen from every corner of the city. What makes it more special is actually the clock. Part of this clock are seven wooden figures. At the first sight the seven figures appear to represent only seven days of the week, but in reality, they depict the seven ancient gods, seven planets and seven basic metals. The mosaic on the roof of the tower also attracts a lot of attention.
oh, but those streets…
My favorite part of my walk through the citadel was having the narrow streets all to myself. Luckily, not many cars can be seen in the citadel – you are only allowed to drive the car here to leave your bags at the hotel or to bring produce to the restaurants and inns around. Otherwise, you have to leave your car at the base of the hill. This allows travelers to have a true sense of what life was like in the past, especially also because of the cobble stone that still paves the streets. The picturesque sight of it all is sure to make you want to come back again in the city.
be sure not to miss…
My recommendations for some other spots that you absolutely must see in Sighisoara:
The Tailors’ Tower – guarding the second entrance in the citadel, it is a massive, yet simple construction. Built in the 14th century, it still impresses and introduces the traveler in the magical world of Sighisoara.
The Ironsmiths’ Tower – an important guardian of the church of the citadel. Because of its strategic position, as part of the fortress wall, eventually, it has lost its initial military objective and became a fire station.
The Bootmakers’ Tower – the building differs a bit from its other counterparts, mainly because of the baroque architectural influence. Also, in comparison with the other towers, this one has two observation towers, despite being lower in height than the others. The outside wooden stairs were added in 2001 and the location currently hosts the local radio station.
The Monastery Church – it was formerly a part of the Dominican monastery. The outside of the church maintains the late Gothic architectural elements. Nowadays, it is an Evangelic church. The interior is also worth visiting. Unfortunately, during my visit this time, I was not able to enter the church, as it was too early for it to be opened 😊
The Stag House – it is the most persevered house of Sighisoara, being built in the 17th century. It was called so because of the stag head fixed on the corner of the building. Nowadays, it hosts a restaurant and an inn.
The Covered Staircase – known as the “Staircase of the Pupils”, it actually leads to the school and church located on the higher top of the hill. Initially, it had three hundred stairs, but nowadays it only has 176. Each day, students of the school on hill go up and down these stairs. One of my best friends who was born and raised in Sighisoara fondly remembers his childhood “task” of going to school and having to climb and descend these stairs. I did not go up during my visit there, but, rest assure, I have, in my life, climbed these stairs a few times 😛
The archway of the Clock Tower – one of my favorite places in the city. This is where I really feel like in a medieval citadel. The wooden walk-board, the stone arches leading the way in and out the city. I could only imagine myself as a damsel striding through the paths of the citadel 😉
Each time I travel to Sighisoara I keep discovering something new. This is probably one of the reasons I keep coming back here. I am convinced that you’ll go back again and again, just like I do 😀