After about hour and half on the road from Brasov, we arrived to the fairytale-like fortified city of Sighisoara. I noticed I have been using the term fairytale a lot lately but that is really what these towns are like, they exist in a different time. There are a total of seven walled citadels in Transylvania populated by the German settlers or Saxons and Sighisoara was neither the biggest nor the wealthiest. However it has become the most popular because it is deemed one of the best preserved, most beautiful, and still inhabited citadels in Europe. Back in the 1100s, the Hungarian king encouraged the Saxons to move to this area to help defend his borders. As a result, many German craftsman and artisans obeyed and moved here. They built this beautiful town which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is no parking within the citadel for visitors and the most convenient metered parking is on Strada Anton Pann just below the citadel. It is only a short walk uphill to the Turnul Croitorilor or Tailors’ Tower and from there the citadel can be easily explored on foot.
Sighisoara is small with only three main streets within the walled old town but they are filled with buildings of all colors. This also happens to be the birthplace of Vlad III Dracul or Vlad the Impaler. When Vlad the Impaler was born in 1431, his father who was ruler of Wallachia was in exile here. His birthplace is now home to a kitschy restaurant called “Casa Dracula” and no we did not go in for lunch.
A must when visiting Sighisoara is to go up the 14th century Clock Tower which is the tallest building inside the citadel at 64 meters for great views of the town. It was built in the second half of the 14th century and expanded in the 16th century. The four turrets on the corners at the top show the judicial autonomy of the Town Council which could apply the death penalty when necessary. At the top of the tower, there is a two-faced clock where everyday at 6am, the angel symbolizing day will appear and at 6pm, the angel symbolizing night will come out carrying two burning candles.
Another point of interest in Sighisoara is the Scholars’ Stairs. Scholars’ Stairs is a covered wooden staircase going up to the Church on the Hill, so called because of its location on School Hill. The covered staircase was built in 1642 to protect churchgoers and schoolchildren during winter months when they went up the hill. It was initially a Catholic Church and later became the main church of the Saxons of Sighisoara. The interior of the church was once covered in beautiful murals but were destroyed in 1776.
Next post will be on another walled citadel in Transylvania called Sibiu. Stayed tuned!
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