Favorite thing: 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.
Attractive old houses
Favorite thing: 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
- Historical Travel
GRAND SQUARE - PIATA MARE
Favorite thing: The largest square of the city of Sibiu, is the GRAND SQUARE - PIATA MARE. Here you will find its most influential buildings. Brukenthal Palace lies on the north-western corner of the square. Next to the Palace, on the left, is the Blue House or Morringer House, an 18th century baroque house. To the right is Sibiu City Hall and the Jesuit Church. Next to the Jesuit Church on the north side, is the Council Tower, a former fortification tower from the 13th century. On the south and east sides are a variety of houses dating 15th to 19th centuries, most in the Renaissance or baroque in style. The wonderful yellow and peach colored Lutsch House now houses Volksbank.
The Square is also the site of Sibiu's many Festivals. While we were there a Film Festival was being held and a huge inflatable screen was set up for that.
There is also a children's splash pad in the middle of the square. It was wonderful to hear the sounds of the children as they squealed in delight when the water came out.
The Square also has many restaurants and terraces with umbrellas - a great place to eat and socialize.
Favorite thing: We arrived in Sibiu around dinner time Monday night. I had absolutely no Romanian RON and I wanted some to pay for dinner. Banks were already closed, so I tried one ATM machine near our Hotel and apparently it was a local bank machine and did not work for me. So I went to another one across the street, a BANCPOST which accepted VISA and MASTERCARD and lo and behold it worked. I withdrew 200 RON, which I figured was about $60.00 CDN. (When I returned home and checked my bank statement, It cost me $62.18 or.3109 cents per RON.
Other alternatives to buy RON were the numerous EXCHANGE kiosks, which there was plenty of on the main commercial street of Nicolae Balcescu.
The Exchange Office pictured here offered the following rates:
As of June 17, 2013.
Buying: Euro - 4,418
USD - 3,278
Selling: Euro - 4,492
USD - 3.390
LESSER SQUARE - PIATA MICA
Favorite thing: As its name says, the PIATA MICA or Lesser Square is smaller in size, being rather longer than wide. Its north-west side has a curved shape, unlike the Grand Square, which has an approximately rectangular shape.
The square is connected to the other two squares and to other streets by small, narrow passages. The main access from the Lower City is through Ocnei Street, which divides the square in two. The street passes under the Liar's Bridge - the first bridge in Romania to have been cast in iron (1859).
To the right of the bridge is another symbol of the city, The House of the Arts, a 14th-century arched building formerly belonging to the Butchers' Guild. On the left side of the bridge is the Luxemburg House, a Baroque style building.
Also located in the Lesser Square is the Franz Binder Museum.
Hans and I had dinner in this square a couple of times. It is much quieter here and there are lots of restaurants located here, like the LaTurn pictured here.
Favorite thing: (Turnurile Sibiului)
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 )
ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL - HOLY TRINITY
Favorite thing: Without a doubt, the ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL - HOLY TRINITY is one of Sibiu's gems.Built in the style of a Byzantine Basilica, work began on the Cathedral - Catedrala Ortodoxa - in 1902 and was completed in 1904. On December 13, 1904, the four bells were placed in the two main spires ( 43 meters high - 45 meters when you include the crosses).
The exterior is in red and yellow brick. The main entrance is through a portico with three semicircular doors. The outside dome is decorated with round mosaics portraying Jesus and four Evangelists.
The interior is absolutely beautiful. The iconostasis and dome shows Christ flanked by angels.
The Cathedral is located on Strada Mitropoliei 35.
We actually had a wonderful view of the two spires, from our hotel room window ( pic # 5 ).
Favorite thing: Located in Sibiu's Huet PLaza is the Gothic EVANGELICAL CATHEDRAL or Catedrala Evanghelica. Completed in 1520, its massive 73.34 meter high steeple is a city landmark. In 1803 Baron Samuel Von Brukenthal was laid to rest in the crypt.
The cathedral's organ is the largest in the southwestern region of Europe. Concerts are held every Wednesday night during the summer.
The cathedral is currently under renovations.
COUNCIL TOWER - TURNUL SFATULUI
Favorite thing: 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.
BRIDGE OF LIES - PODUL MINCIUNILOR
Favorite thing: 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.
STAIRS PASSAGE - PASAJUL SCARILOR
Favorite thing: 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.
PIATA AURARILOR - GOLDSMITHS SQUARE
Favorite thing: 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.
Favorite thing: 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
MAIN STREET - STRADA NICOLAE BALCESCU
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.
FORTIFICATION WALLS - ZID DE FORTIFICATIE
Favorite thing: 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.
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