Sighisoara: Medieval Forever
There’s no place like Sighisoara if you wish to step back in time to the medieval centuries when the Transylvanian Saxons settled central Romania, and when legendary princes like Vlad the Impaler were making history in the battle against the Ottoman Empire.
With its dazzling well-preserved architecture and fortifications, Sighisoara is one of the most beautiful and authentic small medieval towns in Europe, also part of the UNESCO Word Heritage Sites for its ‘outstanding testimony to the culture of the Transylvanian Saxons’.
Due to its geographical position, Sighisoara was for many centuries an important commercial and strategic point of Central Europe. It is also one of the seven fortified citadels the Transylvanian Saxons built after their settlement in Central Romania starting with the 12th century.
Attested at the end of the 13th century under the German name Schespurch, Sighisoara rapidly developed into a powerful economic and commercial center due to its many craftsmen and tradesmen that fortified the settlement with 14 towers and five artillery bastions in the coming centuries against Ottoman invasions.
Each guild took responsibility for the maintenance and defense of one tower named after their craftsmanship, like the Blacksmiths Tower, and Sighisoara became the second political center of Transylvania during the 15th century. During this century, its Romanian name of Sighisoara is first mentioned in a document by Prince Vlad Dracul, the ruler of the territory south from the Carpathians and the father of Vlad the Impaler.
You can find most of the medieval attractions of the town in the area of Sighisoara Citadel, located on a hill above the Lower Town.
The Clock Tower
The most popular of the medieval attractions is perhaps the Clock Tower that guards the citadel entry, the tallest and the most imposing of the nine preserved towers. It was used until 1556 for the reunions of the Town Council. Due to its height, the Clock Tower offers an excellent view over the historical center and the whole town of Sighisoara. Every day, early morning and early evening, the wooden figurines of the tower’s two-plate clock appear to announce the start and the end of the working day. The Clock Tower also hosts the History Museum of Sighisoara where you can see various instruments of torture, weapons and crafts from the medieval times.
The City Square
Next, you can admire the historical buildings of the small City Square where most of the commercial activity took place in the past. Here you’ll find the Church of the Dominican Monastery, first attested in 1298, the Museum of Weapons located in the house of birth of Vlad the Impaler or the Stag House from the 17th century. From the City Square, you can also easily reach the other defensive towers like the Tailors’ Tower or the Cobblers’ Tower.
Up on the Scholars’ Stairs
The Scholars’ Stairs are a distinctive attraction, built in 1642 to protect school children during winter time, connecting the City Square with the Church on the Hill, the Ropemakers’ Tower and the Evangelical Cemetery. After the 175 steps, you’ll reach the most peaceful part of medieval Sighisoara, and we strongly suggest you don’t miss the chance of the vast open view of the town and its green surroundings.
You can visit one of the most representative Gothic constructions in Transylvania, the Church on the Hill, you can take a walk in the centuries old Evangelical Cemetery, or admire the only inhabited tower of the remaining nine, the Ropemakers’ Tower where the caretaker of the cemetery lives.
Sighisoara offers many attractions besides its historical monuments. Its old colorful houses with their bizarre doors and windows, its crowded streets with tourists and artists during the Medieval Festival of Sighisoara that takes place each July make Sighisoara a great destination for those of you in search of memorable experiences. The city is also an excellent starting point for the discovery of the Transylvanian Saxons’ heritage.
You can also rent a bike and cycle through remote villages to Malancrav where you’ll find one of the most important fortified churches in Transylvania.