Small Square (Piata Mica), Sibiu
Piata Mica (the 'small square') is linked to Piata Mare: they are really just a few steps apart.
I found this the most buzzy of the three squares, with the old buildings at its edges almost all housing cafes, bars or restaurants on their lower floors and, in the warmer months, most with outside tables. It was very busy indeed on both the Saturday and Sunday evenings I was there, and far from empty on the early weekday evenings, with more local people than visitors. It's largely pedestrianised, although there is some street car parking.
Most of the buildings in the square date from the 1300s-1500s and part of the square (it isn't actually a square) is curved, following the line of the first ring of Sibiu's fortifications. Originally the houses around the square were owned by craftsmen and shopkeepers...butchers, cobblers, tailors and so on. Many of the buildings are arcaded and the goods were displayed under those arcades (some of which date back to the 1400s).
All the buildings in the square are designated historical monuments. Around its edges you'll find
* Turnul Sfatului (which you can climb for superb views) and Turnul Scarii Aurarilor, two of Sibiu's original fortification towers.
* Casa Artelor, an arcaded building now housing the Museum of Saxon Ethnography but originally the 'Butchers' Hall', dating back to at least 1370. It originally had 11 separate units for 11 butchers, with 8 open arcades........the later still exist.
* Casa Luzembourg, now a twiddly hotel but dating back to the 1500s. Until 2004 it was called the Casa Rosie (red house) or Casa Schaser (Schaser being the Evangelical priest who bought the house in the 1800s).
* The Museum of Pharmacy at number 26, housed in an original pharmacist's shop.
* 'Liar's Bridge', a wrought-iron construction crossing Strada Ocnei (which divides Piata Mica). It was the first wrought-iron bridge in Romania and was erected in 1859. The previous wooden bridge was called 'liar's bridge' because of the hagglers and hawkers who plied their wares nearby.....and that has been transmuted into the story that the bridge will collapse if one tells a lie when standing on it. It clearly does not! :-)
* Many more ancient buildings and lots of 'eyes' watching you from the rooflines! :-)
I ate in Piata Mica every evening of my stay in Sibiu. I found it a very pleasant place indeed, full of history and truly excellent for people-watching. It's well worth making a thorough exploration early in the morning, before the cafes etc set out their outside tables.
During the middle ages the small square (Piata Mica) was the commercial centre of Sibiu, even now there are street sellers lining the square selling jewellery, souvenirs and toys as well as artists drawing portraits for the tourists.
The tradesmen of the area built their houses around the square. Most of the buildings with porticoes (porches built at the front of houses) belonged to the Goldsmiths guild.
The small square was sometimes used for storage of supplies when the town was under siege. There were some underground tunnels that connected the town to the area outside the defence walls. Some of these tunnels are still in existence. An aquaduct supplied the town with water from the Drumbrava Creek.
The Piata Micã is, as the name suggests, smaller than its neighbouring square just to the south, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it is especially tiny – it is still a significant space in the heart of the city. Unlike the Large Square it is uneven in shape, and also unlike that one, cars are permitted here, making it hard to get a good photo. Nevertheless it is a very attractive space, with a more informal feel to it than the grandness of the Large Square.
It owes its long, somewhat curved shape to its location as it lies along the line of one of Sibiu’s concentric fortified walls. Another reason for its disjointed appearance is that it is divided into two distinct parts by Strada Ocnei which climbs up under the Liar’s Bridge from the Lower Town. This was the route whereby I first arrived in the centre of Sibiu, our taxi driver dropping us off here at the foot of the Council Tower.
The buildings too are for the most part less grand than those of the Large Square but have plenty of charm. Many date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, although the south side, with the Catholic Church and Parish House which divide Large Square from Small, is newer – these were built “only” in the 18th century. A couple of other buildings are also newer and more impressive. One of these is the Hermes House, built in 1867 and seen in my second photo. It was built as a headquarters for the Association of Small Tradesmen (and was thus known originally as the “Burger und Gewerbeverein Haus”) and later was home to various shops and, in the inter-war years, a beer hall and restaurant. The latter was owned by Henric Hermes and thus this became the Hermes House. Today it houses the Franz Binder Museum of Universal Ethnography.
Another very notable house here is the Casa Luxembourg, the rather splendid pink and salmon confection seen on the left in my main photo. This was originally constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries but significantly extended and restored in the 18th – hence the Baroque decoration on its facade. Nowadays it is a hotel and in particular plays host to any visiting delegation from Luxembourg.
Photo three shows the colourful shutters of a building tucked away in the south east corner of the square, near the arched passage that leads down to the Lower Town through Goldsmiths' Square (Piata Aurarilor). This building is a real mix of styles and eras, with elements from the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and early 20th centuries.
Photo four is of a house at the top of Strada Ocnei, looking down from the Small Square, and is typical of the less well-preserved architecture here. Again it is a mainly 18th century construction on the base of an earlier 15th and 16th century one. It was built as an inn, and in the early years of the 20th century used by the army, but it seems not to have been well looked after. Despite this, I rather liked it.
Another building to look out for, although not in any of my photos, is the House of Arts, built in the 14th century to house the Butchers Guild. Later on it belonged to the cloth tradesmen and in the 18th century was used as a cereal warehouse. In 1765, for a short time it served as a theatre. Today it houses a craft shop selling handmade objects from various parts of Transylvania, and its arches provide welcome shade on a hot day (photo two in my “Walking tour of the city” tip was taken here)
Next tip: the Liars’ Bridge
The small Square in the centre of the historic city is connected with the Large Square by the arches under the clocktower. The Little Square is the second largest square in the old town. From the Small Square a road goes down under the Bridge of Lies to the Lower City .
At the east and northside of the square in the past the master craftsmen had their houses with arcades in front.Today you can find lots of small shops and cafes around the square. Also the Museum of Pharmacy, the Museum 'Emil Sigerus', the Museum 'Franz Binder' and the Art House are located at the Small Square. From the Goldsmith's Tower (1567) you can take the Goldsmiths Passage to the lower tower.
Around the Small Square are lots of bars and restaurants. A nice place to eat, to drink and relax after a stroll in the old town. During our visit in 2010 we ended up here several times, also in the evening.
Together with Main Square and Huet Square, “Piata Mica”-The Little Square, is one of the central points of interests in Sibiu. They are linked by narrow streets and passages and are giving together the charm of Sibiu.
It is bordered by beautiful buildings like Luxembourg House, Arts House, Council Tower, Hermes House-Museum Franz Binder, History of Pharmacy Museum, Parochial House, Goldsmiths Guild House, Liars Bridge and a lot of other old houses, having all of them a nice architecture, a long history and a lot of legends behind their walls.
What I found very interesting is that, in Luxembourg House, which is now the Cultural Center of Luxembourg, when Grand Duke Henri de Luxembourg has visited the city in 2004, he discussed with the local people in the “Luxembourgish”.
This is the clear argument that the local people came here in twelfth century from Moselle Valley in Luxembourg.
Piaţa Mica, the Small Square, is the second of Sibiu's three town squares. It is flanked by interesting medieval buildings including the Council Tower, the Hermes House, the Museum of Pharmacy, the Franz Binder Museum, the 14th century Arts House and the sixteenth century Goldsmith's Tower. The Liars' Bridge is in one corner of the square. Piaţa Mica seemed to me to be the square that the local townspeople use the most as a functioning meeting place. Sibiu's lively Christmas market is held here.
You can get great views of the square from the Council Tower.
The Small Square is the second largest historic place of Sibiu and one of the most beautiful square in town. From the Small Square a road goes beneath the Council Tower and goes straight below the Liars' Bridge. Here in the Small Square you will find well preserved medieval buildings and a few more passages connecting it to the Big Square. Museum of Pharmacy, Museum 'Emil Sigerus' and Museum 'Franz Binder' are located here, as well as The Art House and the Goldsmith's Tower (1567) that connects the square with the lower tower through the Goldsmiths Passage, one of the most beautiful places in town. Don't miss the pubs near the Luxembourg House.News:The whole pavement of the Small Square, as well as the Liars' Bridge, was totally rebuilt with regard to the year of 2007. The look and feel is different now more than ever (what I've been used to see in my childhood).
Historic place full of old buildings that preserve its aspect since 15th century.Picturesques and colored houses look to the square with eyes mid-opened. Must be remembered The Art House,the old Butchers House built in 14th century,beautiful house with arches used for temporary exhibitions. Now under reconstruction,it will host The Transylvanian Civilization Museum. Another attraction points: the Goldsmith`s Tower (1567) that make the connection with the Lower Town throgh Goldsmith`s Passage. Must not forget the Liars Bridge ( a place where, whatever you say is considered untrue),built in 1860,a true lace in iron.