Medieval Citadel of Sighisoara (UNESCO Heritage)

Now that spring is here, the sun is shining bright and the air started to smell of flowers, we realize that the Easter holidays are coming. And what a good time it is for a nice vacation in the heart of Romania, the mysterious Transylvania.  Where else in Transylvania can we find more mystery and romance than Sighisoara, the still inhabited medieval citadel. The citadel of Sighisoara is mentioned for the first time in an official document in 1280 under the name Cstum Sex. It was a settlement of German colonists, located to a military post to protect Transylvania. The name Sighisoara wasn’t used until 1435, before that the citadel had names like Schespruch, Schäßburg, Segesvár.

medieval citadel of sighisoaraThe fortified walls were constructed around the city in 1350. The walls were 950 meters long and 8 meters tall, protected by 4 bastions and 14 towers for each guild (butchers, bakers, skinners, tanners, shoemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, weavers, furriers, glovers, capers, barbers, goldsmiths, potters, coppers, ropemakers, archers and the masons). Today only 9 towers and 3 bastions are still standing.

Today the fortified walls are surrounded by the town of Sighisoara, the majority of the villas being opened for tourists during the season. Just outside the walls of the citadel there are numerous souvenir shops and pizza restaurants.

As we start at the foot of the citadel we are greeted by a bronze head of Herman Obert , the father of rocketry and astronautics who ended up in Sighisoara in WWI because he was injured. Because he had some spare time while he was there he perfected his theories on weightlessness. We than pass several medieval houses with flowers and dolls in the windows, and beautiful white lace curtains, amazed that this people still prefer this houses to the huge villas. We enter the citadel by passing this massive stone arch above which hangs a heavy gate that could be lowered in times of trouble, and see to our right a sign that sais “The torture room”. You would expect it to be something horrible but when you enter you see a pair of shackles, the gallows and a whip, and then you feel disappointed that there weren’t any horrible contraptions to torture the people of medieval times, but then you arrive in the citadel.

In front of you the walls of the Church of the Dominican Monastery, to your left The Gothic House and to your right The Clock Tower, the biggest and best preserved tower of Sighisoara. The tower has a spiral staircase that leads in several rooms of the tower that hold the history museum with artifacts from the first settlers, books, tools, documents, and lots of information…did you know that the barbers were also dentists from time to time? At the top of the towers we find the clock mechanism, today electrical. The time is told by linden wood statues, measuring 80 centimeters that tell the time and the day of the week by rotating. The statues represent pagan deities (Diana, Marts, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the Sun).

medieval citadel of sighisoara

Walking along the streets we see a sigh saying “Casa Vlad Dracul”. That is the house of Vlad Dracul, the father of Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula. He was stationed there for a time and it is said that that is where Dracula was born. If you go to the second floor, you should watch your back, his spirit still haunts the place. On your way it is impossible that you not see the citadel’s official drummer and flag barer. The drummer will tell the time and the news for the day in several languages, and he is quite a poet.

You will find yourself in the center of the citadel and notice a set of stairs covered with a wooden roof. When you start climbing you get the impression that this tunnel is endless but when you get to the top an amazing scenery awaits. You have just climbed the covered stairs that were constructed for pupils in 1642, and covered to protect them in winter. At the top the Ancient School still stands, one of the oldest schools in Transylvania, now a museum. Next to the school there is the “Church on the Hill“, an evangelic church patroned by St. Nicholas. All of this places can be visited, and if that is not enough, right there next to the school and church there is an old cemetery where you can find recent graves right next to graves from the 14th century, all on this tall forested hill.

All over this fortified citadel you can find delicious Transylvanian cuisine in beautiful restaurants, comfortable beds and 3 to 4 stars hotels, and souvenirs that are hand made by people that did not forget the crafts of the medieval period.

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