Sighisoara Things to Do

  • In case you wondered how far it was
    In case you wondered how far it was
    by wabat
  • Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
    Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
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  • Church on the Hill
    Church on the Hill
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Most Recent Things to Do in Sighisoara

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    Furrier's Tower

    by antistar Updated Jan 15, 2014

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    A much simpler tower guards the citadel's north east corner, the Turnul Cojocarilor. Its plain faced walls, and four sided tower, stands opposite from the Butcher's tower across one of the citadel's main gates. The original medieval tower was burned down and this is its more modern (17th century) replacement.

    Furrier Furrier

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    Tailor's Tower

    by antistar Updated Jan 15, 2014

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    This is the main vehicular entrance to the citadel. Originally it was for horses and carts, but now the few cars that enter the citadel get in here. Like the other towers it's suffered some damage over the years, but in addition to being burned down, this one got blown up by the gunpowder that was once stored here. The current tower was finally rebuilt in 1935.

    Tailor's Tower, Sighisoara Tailor's Tower, Sighisoara Tailor's Tower, Sighisoara Tailor's Tower, Sighisoara

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    Tinsmith's Tower

    by antistar Updated Jan 15, 2014

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    The Turnul Cositorarilor is one of the most outstanding of the citadel's original medieval towers. It guards the south east corner with a formidable array of murder holes. Its asymmetric design is reputedly unique: a square base, with a pentagonal tower, topped by an octagonal garret and a hexagonal roof.

    Tinsmith Tinsmith Tinsmith

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    The Town Hall

    by antistar Updated Jan 15, 2014

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    Sighisoara's Primaria is built on the demolished ruins of the ancient Monastery complex that the monastery church next door once formed a part of. The modern Town Hall was built at the end of the 19th century, and commands great views over the lower part of the town, underneath the citadel.

    Town Hall, Sighisoara View from Town Hall, Sighisoara View from Town Hall, Sighisoara

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    School on the Hill

    by wabat Written Aug 13, 2013

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    How old this school is is a matter of conjecture. Transcripts found by the University of Vienna suggest that around 100 students from the School on the Hill followed University courses between 1402 and 1520. Official records date from 1522.

    By all accounts this was a top notch school and its syllabus included, over time, theology, philosophy, classical languages (Latin and Greek), music, mathematics, and astrology. One of its most famous students was Hermann Oberth – astrophysicist and "father of German rocketry" - having subsequently relocated to Germany. A monument to Oberth can be seen in the Lower Town.

    Teaching in the school is still in German with parallel classes in Romanian. The school has been and remains a guardian of Saxon culture, traditions and ethnic identity.

    The school’s official name is now the Joseph Haltrich High School, named after a famous 19th century ethnologist, priest and collector of folklore who was a former rector at the school.

    In 1642 a covered wooden staircase was constructed to provide drier access for students coming up to the school from the Citadel (and parishioners of the Church on the Hill). I have written a separate review on the Scholars’ staircase.

    Some good views down to the Citadel and Lower Town from here.

    Having made the effort to get up here you should also visit the nearby Church on the Hill and (one of my favorites sites in Sighisoara) the Saxon Cemetery.

    School on the Hill School on the Hill

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    Birthplace of Dracula

    by wabat Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    It is generally accepted that Bram Stoker’s famous character, Dracula, was based on the historical figure Vlad Tepes (also called Vlad Dracula and Vlad the Impaler).

    Vlad was born in this well to do house in Sighisoara (pictures 1 and 2) in November or December 1431.

    His father, Vlad II (Vlad Dracul), claimed the Wallachian throne in 1436 by killing his Danesti rival.

    Little is known about Vlad's early life, though he left Sighisoara in 1435. In 1444, at the age of thirteen, Vlad was sent to Adrianople as a hostage, to appease the Sultan. He was returned to his homeland in 1448 by the Sultan. Ignoring a short period on the throne, supported by the Turks, in 1448 he assumed total control and the Wallachian throne in 1456.

    Vlad earned to title “Impaler” due to his propensity to punish his victims by impaling them on stakes and displaying them publicly as a warning to any would be transgressors against his strict moral code. He is credited with eliminating, in around six years, between 40,000 to 100,000 people in this way. In 1459, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, Vlad Dracula had thirty thousand of the merchants and boyars of the Transylvanian city of Brasov impaled. Ten thousand were impaled in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu in 1460.

    While Impaling was certainly Vlad’s specialty he was quite adept at a range of tortures - nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to wild animals, and burning alive.

    The Turks forced Vlad to flee to Transylvania in 1462 and finally managed to catch and kill him near Bucharest in December 1476. His body was decapitated and his head sent to Constantinople where the Sultan had it displayed on a stake. Sweet revenge!

    While all this happened over 500 years ago, Sighisoara (and indeed Romania) seems not quite sure whether to, or how to, commemorate/celebrate Vlad Tepes’ life (or rather Stoker’s Dracula) or ignore it.

    Today, while Dracula certainly features in Sighisoara it is not over done. Those Dracula fans amongst my readership will be interested in:

    Casa Vlad Dracula, Vlads birthplace, which now houses the Museum of Medieval Arms on the first floor and a restaurant downstairs serving such delicacies as Tepes Steak covered in blood (tomato sauce) which you can wash down with Dracula blood to the accompaniment of human screams and creepy organ sounds by way of background music.

    Nearby between the Clock Tower and the Church of the Dominican Monastery is a bust of Vlad Tapes.

    Should you have to urge to roam the town at night dressed as Dracula this can be catered for by a few souvenir shops where you can acquire the necessary cape and other gear. Recommended gear for a night visit to the Saxon Cemetery - go on, I dare you!

    To their credit, the townsfolk of Sighisoara turned down a request to erect a massive Dracula theme park on the outskirts of the town in 2003. Without doubt any such park would detract from the medieval beauty and relative tranquility of this beautiful city.

    Casa Vlad Dracula Casa Vlad Dracula Vlad Tapes Dress for the part Something to take home ?
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    Romulus and Remus - in Transylvania

    by wabat Written Aug 4, 2013

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    On a walk between the citadel and the train station I came across this statue of the Capitoline wolf feeding Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. One face value the existence of this statue here appears somewhat odd.

    It was given to Sighisoara by Rome to commemorate close ties between Rome and Romania – ties that were used by the communist regime against the claims of Hungary. Like the rest of Transylvania, Sighisoara was part of Hungary until WWI. Similar statues to this are to be found in other towns in the region. While Capitoline Wolf statues can be found in many countries there are certainly a disproportionately large number of them in Romania which would add weight to this rather ulterior motive for 'collecting' them.

    Roman legions under the Emperor Trajan penetrated the heart of Transylvania in around 105AD and hung around for nearly two hundred years when the Emperor Aurelian, faced with rebellion on the Rhine and in Syria was forced to abandon Transylvania.

    Romulus and Remus
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    Holy Trinity Orthodox Church

    by wabat Written Aug 4, 2013

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    You can see this striking black and white Neo-Byzantine style Eastern Orthodox church on the northern bank of the Tarnava Mare river in Elisabeth Park from the citadel. To visit it, just head for the train station – it’s about half way from the citadel to the station – take the pedestrian bridge across the river.

    Commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as a cathedral, the church, dedicated to Saint Trinity, was designed by Romanian architect, Dumitru Petrescu Gopes and completed 1937 after 4 years of construction. Permission to build the church in the centre of the lower town was declined hence its location on the river bank. It now very much dominates this part of the town.

    The inside was painted by A. Demian. Unfortunately I didn’t get inside so can’t comment on it – a real shame based on my last picture of the interior of the dome – (picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

    Mass is held daily except Monday.

    Just be careful as beggars (harmless) tend to congregate outside the church.

    Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Holy Trinity Orthodox Church - From the Citadel Holy Trinity Orthodox Church - Interior Dome
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    St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church

    by wabat Written Mar 20, 2013

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    A truly modern building in a town where the majority of buildings date from the 15th century and earlier, St Joseph’s was built in 1894, after the demolition of the Franciscan convent (pre 1723 its was Dominican). The Church was designed by a Sighisoara architect Letz and has an organ made by Kerl Einschenk in 1908.

    The church underwent a major restoration in 1984 following a fire on 22 March 1983 and is rather plain and ordinary when compared to the other churches but it’s still certainly worth a look inside as you pass.

    Beautifully illuminated at night.

    Photography inside prohibited

    St Joseph's  Roman Catholic Church St Joseph's  Roman Catholic Church St Joseph's  Roman Catholic Church

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    Passage of the Old Ladies

    by wabat Written Mar 20, 2013

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    While the weather was absolutely beautiful (though sub zero at night) when I visited, conditions can be harsh in Sighisoara, especially in winter.

    In 1780 a covered walk called the Passage of the Old Ladies was constructed at the Clock Tower entrance to the Citadel to shield the elderly against rain or snow falls.

    You will undoubtedly use the Clock Tower entrance to enter/exit the citadel a number of times on your visit so do stop and take it in – the stonework generally at the entrance and this passageway are quite stunning and worth a serious look. Don't forget an after dark look - no vampires here !

    This was not the first covered walkway in Sighisoara. One hundred and thirty eight years earlier, in 1642 a much longer walkway – the Scholars’ Stairs - was built to provide shelter for children and parishioners making their ways, respectively, to the School and the Church on the Hill. Please see my separate tip on the Scholars’ Stairs .

    Clock Tower - Passage of the Old Ladies Clock Tower - Passage of the Old Ladies Clock Tower - Passage of the Old Ladies

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    Church on the Hill

    by wabat Updated Mar 19, 2013

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    Reached by means of the Scholars’s Stairs the Gothic-style Biserica din Deal – Church on the Hill, dedicated to St Nicholas, took nearly two hundred years to build on a former Roman basilica. It is arguably the most architecturally significant building in Sighisoara. Its construction started in 1345 and continued, on and off, until 1525.

    The church commenced life as a Roman Catholic Church but after the 1547 Reformation it shifted to Lutherism as did the Saxons of Sighisoara.

    The church is famous for its 15th century frescos and especially for their disappearing and reappearing (albeit in lower quality). I’m sure you are wondering what I am talking about. Let me explain.

    In the 1500’s the church has a series of frescos on its walls. In 1776 a decision was made to paint over these frescos but only after accurate copies of them had been recorded on parchment. The parchments disappeared before the frescos were reproduced and the walls remained beige (or whatever colour was commonly applied to church interiors in those days – more probably whitewash).

    In a 1934 restoration some of the old frescoes were partially uncovered and again in the 1990’s more were partially uncovered – so that which disappeared has reappeared.

    Some particular things to observe (photography prohibited inside the church) include:
    • a fresco in one of the archways in which the Holy Trinity is depicted as a three-faced entity, with the Holy Ghost depicted as female
    • the Last Judgment fresco without any depiction of purgatory
    • the crypt below the choir stall containing some thirty tombs – unique in terms of Evangelic churches in Transylvania
    • a 1520 Gothic altarpiece dedicated to St Martin
    • the pulpit carved in 1480
    • 16th century wooden pews, carved by J Reychmut.

    Opening Hours - 10am to 6pm daily.
    Entrance Fee – 2 Lei

    Opposite the church is the main entrance to the Saxon Cemetery (open daily 8:00am - 8:00pm).

    Church on the Hill Church on the Hill Church on the Hill
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    Sighisoara by night – be not afraid

    by wabat Written Mar 19, 2013

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    In another tip I recommended you spend at least one night in Sighisoara.

    While the town, and in particular the citadel, is small and could be “done” in half a day you would miss so much by so doing. This is a place for strolling around. Take your time wander the streets. Sit down, have a coffee or bite to eat and then wander again. Repeat process again.

    One of your wanders should certainly be after dark. The buildings are lit up beautifully.
    The pictures attached is a sample of what you will see and hopefully enough to entice you into spending a night here.

    For the brave I have also, in a separate tip, suggested an after dark visit to the Saxon Cemetery beside the Top of the Hill Church. After that, perhaps some rare, juicy meat by candlelight in Casa Dracula, Dracula’s birthplace!

    Clock Tower and Citadel Entrance Church of the Dominican Monastery St. Joseph Roman-Catholic Church Cobblers' Tower Main Square - Stag House on Left

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    In defence of Sighisoara – Towers - Part 1

    by wabat Updated Mar 18, 2013

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    As you may have read in my general tip on Sighisoara Citadel, the Citadel dates back to the 12th century when Transylvanian Saxons, were ordered here by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the Carpathian frontier against the steppe peoples. For this and also to keep later would be intruders at bay the fortified settlement of walls and towers was constructed and enhanced over time. In all 14 towers were built. These towers were built by various craft guilds – from which they derived their names.

    To-day nine towers remain.

    See my individual tips on:

    The Clock Tower (Turnul Cu Ceas - now, as then, the landmark tower)
    Ropemakers' Tower (Turnul Franghierilor)

    Four of the remaining seven towers are covered in this tip with the remaining three covered in Part 2

    Blacksmiths' Tower (Turnul Fierarilor) (Picture 1)
    The north-eastern part of the citadel is dominated by this tower with a rectangular plan, annexed to the old wall of the citadel in 1631 to protect the Church of the Monastery. Five shooting holes on the Lower Town facing side could be used for pouring boiled pitch on any would be assailants. A charming welcome for would be parishioners! This tower replaced the earlier Barbers Tower.

    Furriers' Tower (Turnul Cojocarilor) (Picture 2)
    This Tower was built in the 15th century and is a rather basic tower close to Turnul Macelarilor (the Butcher’s Tower. You can see the spire of the Butcher tower in the attached picture.

    Butchers' Tower (Turnul Macelarilor) (Picture 3)
    Erected in the 15th century, originally in the form of a prism with 8 sides. Later it was increased in height to 2 levels. The existing tower has 3 levels and 5 fire holes.

    Cobblers' Tower (Turnul Cizmarilor) (Picture 4)
    The Cobblers' Tower, located in the northeastern part of the town, was originally built in the mid 16th century but totally rebuilt in 1650. The tower bears the influence of baroque architecture and features a hexagonal base with sides of different lengths. Its roof, resembling a pointy helmet, houses a small observation tower.

    Blacksmiths' Tower Furriers' Tower Butchers' Tower Cobblers' Tower
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    In defence of Sighisoara – Towers - Part 2

    by wabat Updated Mar 18, 2013

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    As I stated in my general tip on Sighisoara Citadel, the Citadel dates back to the 12th century when Transylvanian Saxons, were ordered here by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the Carpathian frontier against the steppe peoples. For this and indeed to keep later would be intruders at bay the fortified settlement of walls and towers was constructed and enhanced over time. In all 14 towers were built. These towers were built by various craft guilds – from which they derived their names.

    To-day nine towers remain.

    See my individual tips on:

    The Clock Tower (Turnul Cu Ceas - now, as then, the landmark tower)
    Ropemakers' Tower (Turnul Franghierilor)

    Three of the remaining towers are covered in this tip with the remaining four covered in Part 1

    Tailors' Tower (Turnul Croitorilor) Photo 1
    This imposing tower built in the 14th century by the richest guild in town. Initially as tall as the Clock Tower, its upper part was destroyed in the 1676 fire, when the town's gunpowder deposits, located here, exploded. Not only did the explosion remove half of the tower, the resultant fire devastated most of the Lower town and significantly damaged much of the Citadel. The Tailors' Tower, with its two gateways (which used to have oak gates with an iron lattice) is now the primary access point for vehicular traffic wishing to enter the citadel.

    Tanners' Tower (Turnul Tabacarilor) Picture 2
    Located on the south-eastern side of the Citadel’s wall, this tower is one of the oldest in the citadel and dates back to the 12th-14th centuries. It is a simple square shape with sloping room – pictured just below the Tinsmiths’ Tower in the attached photo. It is thought not to have been affected by the 1676 fire.

    Tinsmiths' Tower (Turnul Cositorilor) Picture 3
    A rather odd misshaped tower about which not a lot is known.
    The tower, 25m (82 ft) high, starts from a square base, after which the structure takes a pentagonal shape and in the upper part becomes larger and octagonal and is topped off by a hexagonal rooftop. Evidence exists in the form of bullet and cannon balls marks that the tower was attacked at some stage – most likely the 1704 Kurut attacks.

    Tailors' Tower Tanners' Tower (in front of Tinsmiths' Tower) Tinsmiths' Tower
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    Traditional Art Gallery in Sighisoara

    by MarkT80 Written Mar 18, 2013

    This shop opened in spring 2012 and is run by Mark Tudose, aka The Spoonman. Mark is a carver of traditional wooden spoons and other wooden objects. In addition to his own intricate artwork, the shop offers traditionally made icons, embroidered fabrics, ceramics, and other Romanian folk art items made by Mark's colleagues.

    For those looking for authentic Romanian folk art, there is no better place to go than this shop. Not only will you be able to see The Spoonman at his craft and speak with the master carver himself, but you will also be told the stories and legends behind each motif on the spoon or other object. Mark possesses a wealth of information related to Romanian traditions and is always eager to provide visitors with more than just an item - he will give them a story as well.
    On top of all that, the shop is environmentally friendly and strives to provide, instead of plastic bags, simple homemade paper-and-string bags, so that the beautiful items are ready to be presented as gifts immediately upon purchase. The shop is located in the basement of the House on the Rock building, which is one of the main buildings on the main square of the citadel. Easy to locate, the building says (in English) "House on the Rock" and "International Cafe." Simply enter and go down the stairs to find the entrance to the Arts, Crafts, and Tea shop.
    English and Romanian spoken.

    Inside the Gallery Presentation Museum pieces - Ancient Pottery Romanian furniture Figurative ceramics
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