THE FAIRYTALE SPIRIT OF SIGHIȘOARA
January 1, 1970
The tradition says Vlad Țepes, a three-time Voivode of Wallachia, was born in this town. This might not say much to you, unless you find out his better known name: DRACULA.
So if you visit SIGHIȘOARA you must not be surprised by the Dracula cult of the bazaars and souvenir shops. If you would like to boost your adrenaline level, you can even visit the house in which – as tradition says – the famous character who inspired Bram Stoker was born.
THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE TOWN
But beside this, the small town in the heart of Transylvania, located in Mureș county, ROMANIA, founded in the 12th century by German craftsmen and merchants known as the Saxons of Transylvania, is popular due to its rich history, its diverse cultural life and its multi-ethnical characteristics. And even though Dracula might have been born here, you do not have to be afraid: this friendly town is much more like a slice of fairytale.
It is one of the few Saxon towns in which the medieval splendor has been preserved. It became part of the World Heritage in 1999, mostly due to the fact that its medieval castle – the Citadel – is still inhabited. The Citadel is located on a hill, and as you walk up on the stairs, an atmospheric magic will almost certainly catch you.
ATTRACTIONS IN THE CITADEL
Besides Dracula’s house, one of the main attractions in the pedestrian-friendly Citadel is right at the entrance: the sixty four meter tall Clock Tower known also as the Council Tower. This tower has become the symbol of Sighișoara and is the home of the History Museum. Before entering the museum don’t forget to look up at the renowned chiming clock with figurines. The figurines are moved by the clock’s mechanism, and in the early morning and early afternoon a music can be heard as well – signaling the beginning and the end of the workday. In the History Museum you are going to be guided through the past and – in the end – from the top of the tower, you can look down and have a marvellous sight of the Old Town.
In the Citadel there are 9 towers, and you might want to play a searching game and find all of them (it won’t be too hard, don’t worry). But before anything else you might want to enter into the Torture Room, which is located right next to the Clock Tower.
During the search of the towers, you can have a nice walk on the cobblestoned medieval streets, take a closer look at the unique, secular houses, the Stag House (built in the 17th century) and the Venetian House (built in the 13th century) and buy a nicely crafted souvenir. Sighișoara it has been famous for its handcrafted objects. Altough nowadays you can find a lot of kitsch on the streets, traditional objects, traditional art and handcrafted objects still exist, therefore you can take a really nice souvenir for yourself and for your loved ones.
If you decide to go up on the 175 wooden treads of the Scholars’ Stairs (a covered staircase), you are going to be rewarded with other great sights. After going up I recommend to enter into the Church on the Hill, which is a masterpiece of the Transylvanian gothic architecture. The 9th tower is located right here on the hill: the Rope-makers’ Tower, the only tower that is inhabited even now. Near the tower you can enter into the Saxon cemetery, which should not be omitted either. In the graveyard you can enjoy an absolute silence among the old, beautifully carved tombstones overran with ivy. It is like entering into a serene secret garden.
WHERE&WHAT TO EAT&DRINK?
If you get hungry after the sightseeing, you can go back to Dracula’s house, as on the ground floor there is a restaurant – Vlad Dracul’s House Restaurant –, where you can eat specific Transylvanian food (a beans soup in bread, a tasty Goulash or minced meat rolls in cabbage leaves) and have a nice cup of wine or a shot of Pálinka (and if you’re still not tired you can go and check the Museum of Weapons on the first floor of Dracula’s house). But you can choose from other nice restaurants also, and if you visit Sighișoara in the warm season you can drink a coffee on the archaic streets as well.
DON’T GET BORED
Sighișoara is a nice place to visit in every season, but especially in spring and summer. During the estival season you can go to festivals as well. In July usually takes place the Medieval Festival, and in August the Proetnica Festival, both famous for their various and unique programs. At the Proetnica Festival you can meet the representants of 20 (!) ethnical minorities from Romania. You can be a witness (and even a participant) of how they celebrate the cultural heritage and cultural diversity.
During the largest medieval festival in Romania, you might see knights, clowns, wizard or monks appearing on the streets. The Medieval Festivals mission is to bring back an extincted era and to give new life to it. On both festivals there are dozens of performances, exhibitions, concerts and programs which could goad your curiosity. So boredom will surely avoid you.
OUTSIDE THE CITADEL
Apart from the medieval castle there is another place you might want to visit if you are in Sighișoara. It offers a great panorama view on the whole town, and it is located vis-à-vis the Citadel. It is the highest peak of the city, where Vila Franka Hotel and Restaurant is located. It is an excellent place to rent a room and have a dinner as well
As Sighișoara is a relatively small town, if you choose to come for longer period, you might want to visit the surroundings as well. There are plenty of villages with memorable sites, with beautiful fortresses and churches, like Saschiz, Biertan, Apold or Viscri. You can get here by car but you can rent bicycles also.
I absolutely recommend to visit Sighișoara for those who:
- are Dracula fans
- love fairy tales
- would like to make a time travel into the Middle Ages.