SIBIU

Sibiu - General Information Location: Central Romania (County: Sibiu)
Size: 46.7 sq. miles (121 sq. kilometers)
Elevation: 1,410 ft. (430 meters)
Population: 170,000
Inhabited since: 300 BC
First documented: 1191 AD

City Highlights

Sibiu (Hermannstadt in German) was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels* built in the 12th century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons. The riches amassed by its guilds paid for the construction of both impressive buildings and the fortifications required to protect them.

Sibiu's Old Town retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade. Like Sighisoara and Brasov, it has a distinctly Germanic feeling. Sections of the medieval wall still guard the historic area, where narrow streets pass steep-roofed 17th century buildings with gable overhangs before opening into vast, church-dominated squares such as Great Square and Little Square.

Sibiu is a pedestrian-friendly city with two easily accessible levels: the Upper town, home to most of Sibiu's historic sights, and the Lower town, lined with colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking the river Cibin.

In 1797, Samuel von Hahnemann opened in Sibiu the world's first homeopathic laboratory

Sibiu is home to the first hospital in Romania (1292), the first pharmacy (1494) and the oldest museum in Romania, the Brukenthal Museum, opened in 1817

The first book in the Romanian language was printed in Sibiu in 1544

Traditionally, the Upper town was the wealthier part and commercial outlet, while the Lower town served as the manufacturing area. The historical centre includes the Great Square, Huet Square, the beautiful Passage of Steps connecting the upper town to the lower town, the well-known Bridge of Lies, Goldsmiths' Square and the Small Square.

* The seven walled citadels populated by the Saxons of Transylvania were known in German as the Siebenburgen.

The other Siebenburgen citadels are located in the towns of:
Bistrita (Bistritz), Brasov (Kronstadt), Cluj (Klausenburg), Medias (Mediasch), Sebes(Mühlbach) , Sighisoara (Schässburg)

City Landmarks

Sibiu's Towers

(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 16-th century Great Tower (Turnul Gros) was the site of Sibiu's first theatrical performance, staged in 1778.

The Upper Town

(Orasul de Sus)

At the centre of the upper town are three beautiful squares. The Great Square is the site of the Roman-Catholic church and the Brukenthal Palace, where you will find one of Romania's most important art collections. The square is linked to the Little Square by a passage beneath the Council Tower, which is worth visiting for the excellent views over the town. The third square, Huet Square, is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral.

The Great Square

(Piata Mare)

First mentioned in 1411 as a grain market, the Great Square – the largest square in the city, has been throughout the centuries a quiet witness to the town's lively merchant activity, assemblies and even public executions. Located in the heart of the old walled city, the square was designated an architectural monument by UNESCO and features some of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu.

Roman-Catholic Church

(Biserica Romano-Catolica)
Address: Piata Mare

The north side of the Great Square is dominated by the Roman-Catholic Church (Biserica Romano-Catolica). This beautiful baroque structure with classical decorations was built between 1726 and 1738. The tower was attached to the nave in 1738 and one year later, a cross was seated on the top. The completely renovated interior is magnificent with gold-laced walls and colorful ceiling frescoes.

Intricate stone carvings cover much of the nave while the side altars and colonnades glisten with pink marble. The fresco behind the altar was painted in 1777 by Anton Steinwald. Inside the church is the stone grave of Otto Ferdinand de Abensberg, commander of Transylvania between 1744-1747. Organ recitals are usually held once a week.

 

Council Tower

At the corner with Avram Iancu Street stand the old mayor's residence and the imposing Council Tower (Turnul Sfatului). Built in the 13-th century, this tower was used as 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 bird's-eye view of the historic town and the Fagaras Mountains beyond.

Brukenthal Palace

(Palatul Brukental)
Address: Piata Mare

Even though the museum officially opened in 1817, its art galleries welcomed visitors 27 years earlier (1790), three years prior to the opening of the Louvre

Facing west of the square is the stunning Brukenthal Palace (Palatul Brukental), built between 1778-1785 by a Viennese architect in a refined late-baroque style. It is now the home of the Brukenthal Museum (Muzeul Brukenthal), the oldest and one of the finest art museums in the country. The palace was built by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal to serve as his official residence and house his collections of Romanian and Western art, 16th – 18th century religious sculptures and icons, stamps and coins, as well as an impressive library. Over the years, the collections have been enriched through acquisitions and donations. (See museum details)

Completing the picture is the fairy-tale Blue House, an 18-th century baroque house bearing the old coat of arms of Sibiu on its facade.

The Little Square

(Piata Mica)

From the Great Square, walk through one of two tunnels under the arches of the Council Tower to arrive at the Little Square. This second fortified square was home to the town's most prestigious master craftsmen, who lived in rows of arcaded houses along the north and east sides. Today, small shops, cafes and businesses line the square.

Huet Square

(Piata Huet)

Huet Square is home to a mix of gothic buildings dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral (Biserica Evangelica). This impressive structure, featuring five pointed towers, was built in 1520 on the site of an old Roman basilica. The simple, stark interior is in total contrast to that of the Catholic Church. A gigantic fresco, painted by Johannes of Rosenau in 1445, covers much of the chancel's north wall. The mural shows the Crucifixion and marks a transition in painting from late-gothic style to renaissance style. On the south side, the choir loft boasts a beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling, home to a baroque organ designed by a German master in 1671. Six thousand pipes were installed in 1914, making it the largest organ in Romania.

Here, you can also find the city's only fully German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which exemplifies the city's proud German heritage.

 

 

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