The best preserved portion of Sibiu's medieval defences is to be found along STRADA CETATIL, where three towers and a long stretch of wall (pic #3) have survived the centuries in good condition. The three towers are named for the three guilds whose task it was to defend them - Turnul Archebuzierlor (Archers' Tower - pic #5) - Turnul Olarilor (Potters' Tower - pic #4) - Turnul Dulgherilor (Carpenters' Tower - pic #1).
The area alongside the wall has been turned into a pleasant park and is perfect for a morning walk. Just past the final tower is the home of Sibiu Philharmonic, while just past that is the Natural History Museum (pic #2).
Favorite thing: Located on Strada Mitropoliei 9, close to the Orthodox Cathedral is the REFORMED CHURCH - BISERICA REFORMATA. built in the Baroque style from 1783 - 1786. The church has a narrow facade with a simple, stone-framed portal and windows. I couldn't go in to take a peek as the doors were locked.
With or without “eyes”, the old houses of Sibiu are for the most part really picturesque and photogenic. Many are painted in bright colours, and although their great age almost certainly makes them a challenge to live in and look after, it also ensures that they are full of character.
There seemed to me to be two typical designs – the small houses a little away from the hub of the Large and Small Squares in the Upper Town, and in many of the streets of the Lower Town too, are terraced much like those in my main photo (taken on Strada Cetatii). But the larger ones, for instance in and around the Large Square, and on Strada Nicholae Balcescu, are built around a central courtyard and can appear much smaller from the street than they actually are. It is quite easy to peer into these courtyards as you explore, and if you do so you will see that most of these bigger houses are these days divided into apartments. This was done on a major scale during the Communist era, and it was the same period that led to often-unsuccessful attempts at “modernising” the old properties – the house in photo two, just next to the pretty row in the main photo, has had some unfortunate additions in the shape of its balcony and bay window. Today however efforts to refurbish the old houses are usually more sympathetically undertaken, as photo three (taken in the Lower Town) shows – old house, new roof, but with the characteristic roof tiles and “eyes” retained.
So grab your camera and spend a few hours wandering around snapping pictures of these characterful old buildings.
Next tip: some architectural details
If you visit my various pages and look at my photos you will learn that I love to seek out and photograph the details of interesting old buildings. And Sibiu is a wonderful place in which to do just that! The old houses have a wealth of detail to catch the eye – shuttered windows painted in bright or pastel colours, intricate mouldings and ornate handles on the doors, Baroque carvings and columns on the grander houses (see my photos taken on Strada Nicholae Balcescu for examples of these latter).
Several of the photos accompanying this tip, meanwhile, were taken in the streets just to the south of the Large Square – Archivelor, Tipografilor and Alexandru Papiu-Ilarian. These quiet streets away from the main tourist routes are a worthwhile place for a stroll if you want to appreciate the variety of Sibiu’s domestic architecture.
Others were taken in the Lower Town, so let us go there next.
Named PIATA AURARILOR - GOLDSMITHS SQUARE because here were the
workshops of the goldsmiths. Three streets are starting up from the square, among them being Movilei Street, one of the most picturesque streets in Sibiu. Another incredible beautiful street starts from Goldsmiths' Square, reaching the Small Square through the Goldsmiths' Passage which preserved its original aspect since 1567. At the end of the passage there is a tower called the Goldsmiths' Tower. It is a two-storied building, the ground level being pierced by a passage in a cross shape. The upper floors host rooms used as a dwelling.
I was fascinated by Sibiu's unique and wonderful houses, especially the ones with the eye=shaped skylights. I want to highlight some of these unique houses.
1) Casa Gollner
Located on Str. Samuel von Brukenthal #3
Once the home of Carol Gollner
Wooden Gothic framework
2) & 3) Casa Movert
Located on Str. Samuel von Brukenthal #1
Located in Piata Mare
Now the Volksbank
5) Sibiu's Oldest House
Located on Pasajul Scarilor
The Old City Hall - Primaria Veche - CASA ALTEMBERGER is now the Museum of History - Muzeul de Istorie. It was founded in 1959 and is part of National Brukenthal Museum.
It is also known as the Altemberger, after the name of its first owner, Thomas Altemberger who built it between 1470 and 1491. In 1545, the building was taken over by the city and was the City Hall until 1948.
Favorite thing: Sibiu's Main Street - STRADA NICOLAE BALCESCU connects Piata Unirii - Union Square - to Piata Mare - Large Square. The Street is also pedestrianized. that is no cars are allowed, Along this street you will find many shops, restaurants, Pretzel kiosks and exchange offices. The supermarket, BILLA is located here, as is our Hotel Imparatul Romanilor and also Casa Frieda, just to name a few. Also, if you're in the mood for an ice cream, there are many little sidewalk ice cream kiosks. It is a very busy commercial street and in the evening, many stroll down the street looking for a place to have a drink or a bite to eat.
The medieval town of Sibiu has well preserved FORTIFICATION WALLS - ZID DE FORTIFICATIE surrounding the town.
Most prominent are the walls along Str. Cetatii where the three Towers are. Also there are the walls near Turnul Barbierilor along Str. Manejului and the walls along the Stairs Passage - Pasajul Scarilor.
Perhaps the most unique house I saw in Sibiu was the CARIATIDES HOUSE - CASA
CU CARIATIDE. Located on Str. Mitropoliei Nr. 13, the house was built in 1786. Two Cariatides statues guard the entrance to the house. They are not exact replicas of the original Caryatides at the Parthenon in Athens, but are a close resemblance. I would have loved to go inside this house, just to see what it looked like.
Located in the Large Square - Piata Mare - between the Brukenthal Museum and the Roman Catholic Church, is the stunning building which houses SIBIU CITY HALL or Primariei Sibiu.
Built originally in 1906 to house the Agricultural Credit Bank, but has been the City Hall of Sibiu since 2006.
It is also used as a Tourist Information Center. I went there a few times, to get some information and to see if there were any brochures or booklets I could use. Also every time I went in, there was some type of exhibition going on, especially during the Sibiu Film Festival.
Sibiu - STAIRS PASSAGE - PASAJUL SCARILOR
The 13th century Passage of Steps, an architectural masterpiece with twin
staircases and archways, connects the Upper Town to the Lower Town.
Built in the 13th century, it is one of the most picturesque places in Sibiu.
At one end of the passage stands the city's oldest building which now hosts the
oldest restaurant in Romania, The Golden Barrel.
Several steep steps and stairways lead from the upper to the lower town. One of them passes beneath the BRIDGE OF LIES - PODUL MINCIUNILOR. Built in 1859 by Fredricus Hutte, this was the first wrought iron bridge in Romania
Legend has it that the name derived from the merchants' fiery disputes which flared up around it and the passionate vows of young lovers who often met here.
The bridge really looks lovely, especially with the colorful flowers along it. Not too far from the bridge, is the ATRIUM CAFE' where we met up with fellow VT members on our last night in Sibiu.
Sibiu - COUNCIL TOWER - TURNUL SFATULUI
In the large square, Piata Mare at the corner with Avram Iancu Street stand the old mayor’s residence and the imposing Council Tower (Turnul Sfatului). Built in the 13th century, this tower was used as an entrance gate to the second row of fortified walls built around Sibiu. Throughout the centuries, the Council Tower served as a grain storehouse, a fire watchtower, a temporary prison and even as a museum of botany. The roof, originally built in pyramid form, has undergone various changes, culminating in the addition of four corner turrets in 1826.
On the top floor, an observation deck allows a panoramic view of the historic town and the Fagaras Mountains beyond. Picture 4 shows the entrance to the tower via a spiral staircase. There was a sign that said entrance was one lei. Hours are from 10.00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
For hundreds of years, this walled town in the heart of Transylvania was one of the most powerful and prosperous strongholds in Europe. Surrounded by imposing walls, Sibiu’s original fortifications included 39 defensive towers, five bulwarks, four gates and five artillery batteries.
Although the entire network is remarkably well-preserved, the best-maintained section is the southeastern side which has been reinforced several times throughout the centuries since attacks most often came from that direction.
Three 15th century towers have withstood the test of time: Harquebusiers’ Tower (Turnul Archebuzierilor), Carpenters’ Tower (Turnul Dulgherilor) and Potters’ Tower (Turnul Olarilor). The 16th century Great Tower (Turnul Gros) was the site of Sibiu’s first theatrical performance, staged in 1778.
Sibiu's other Towers are Turnul Scarilor, Turnul Barbierilor, Tanner Tower (Turnul Pielarilor ), Turnul Pulberariei and Council Tower ( Turnul Sfatului )