Another day trip that we did from Brasov, was to the Unesco World Heritage site of Sighisoara (Sig-he-swore-a). It is an ancient, medieval village that was founded as far back as the 12th century when the King of Hungary, who ruled the Transylvania region, invited German craftsmen and merchants to settle and defend the region. A document from 1280 tells of a town with a six-sided wall built on a former Roman fort.
This village was the center for kings by 1337 and artisans, from throughout the Roman Empire, visited it. The German merchants and artisans dominated the economy and in the 16th and 17th century, there were estimated to be 15 craftsman’s guilds.
Today, with its beautifully preserved buildings, Sighisoara is considered one of the best examples of a medieval fortified village. In Eastern Europe, it is one of a few existing fortified villages that are inhabited today.
Upon our arrival in Romania, a young lady suggested that we try to visit this charming town and I am so grateful that we did!
It was a 2 1/2 hour train trip from Brasov. There were some interesting sites along the way that gave us a “peek” into Romanian life.
Evidently, in the small villages, the communication system between the train and the station isn’t modernized. When we passed through a village, a railroad employee would come and hold a paddle that had a round green dot on one side and a red dot and the other side of the paddle. I assume that if he held up the red side of the paddle, the engineer needed to stop the train for a passenger or packages. If he held up the green side, it meant to continue on. This man had just held up the green side of the paddle, and we didn’t stop.
We passed through some villages. Some parts of them didn’t appear to have electricity to the houses or running water. I saw some young girls getting water at a public water faucet. The houses near the tracks were very small and they had outhouses in the far corner of the yard.
Some of the things I saw, I wasn’t able to get a picture of. There were a couple of fields that were being plowed by men with teams of horses. Several times, we passed herds of cows and sheep being tended by a shepherd. I saw several horses and wagons being used in the field and on our return trip to Brasov, I finally got a picture!
Slowly, Romania is getting modernized. I did see a few tractors plowing fields. From what I heard during our travels, the northern region of Romania still does farming in the traditional way. I think that it would be great to go and visit that area to get a feel of Romania from years gone by.
Once arriving at the train station, we started walking. The streets are lined with beautiful rose bushes that were in full bloom and smelled lovely. At the end of this street, we made a left and walked past this majestic Romanian Orthodox Church….The Holy Trinity, built in the Neo-Byzantine style from 1934 to 1937. After walking past the church, we crossed the Tarvava Mare River on the footbridge and got our first view of the medieval village on the hill!
My first impression was a little bit of disappointment because I was expecting turrets silhouetted against the blue sky. Everything I had read about Sighisoara was it was an enchanting, fairy-tale place! That view didn’t look very “fairy tale” to me!
There is a wide path that winds gradually up the hill to get to the old town. This was the view looking back from where we had just come from.
My impression changed as I walked through an opening in the old city wall and there was one of the 14 original towers. It is the Cobbler’s Tower.
These towers add to the charm of the village but in the 14th and 16th century they were used to defend against Turkish attacks. Back then, various guilds were responsible for keeping the towers stocked with weapons and emergency supplies. Today, there are nine of the 14 towers still standing.
The Clock Tower, also known as the Council Tower, is the main focal point of Sighisoara. It was built in the mid-1300s and later expanded in the 1500s. After the fire of 1667, Austrian artisans rebuilt the roof of the tower to the baroque style you see today. The colorful, tiled roof was added in 1894.
Walking away from the Clock Tower, you will pass “Casa Vlad Dracul”. The house, now converted into a restaurant, is said to be where Vlad Tepes (aka Dracula) was born in 1431.
Continuing up the street, you come to Citadel Square that used to be used for market and craft fairs. It is the center of Sighisoara and was also used for executions, impalings and witch trials.
Continuing past the Stag House and up the hill, you will come to the Scholars’ Stair.
We hiked up the stairs to see the Church on the Hill. This building houses a school. It is not certain exactly when the school was established but records found, at the University of Vienna in Austria, suggested that approximately 100 students studied at university level from 1402 to 1520 at the School on the Hill in Sighisoara. Official records record a School on the Hill from 1522. Personally, I tend to lean towards the findings at the University of Vienna because of the history of the Scholars’ or Schoolboys’ Stairs that I mentioned above.
Parting shots from around the town….
Return trip to Brasov on the train
Until the next time, may you be blessed, filled with joy and sparkles! ✨✨✨