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Top 10 Things to do in Sibiu

On our road trip through Romania, which was to end in Bucharest, Sibiu was perfectly located on the route to make it as our last stop before we would head to the capital. Transylvania is a vast space with incredibly many beautiful places, and Sibiu is one of them. This beautiful, well-preserved medieval town in Transylvania hosts so much history with its lovely, medieval squares, a historical fortress and just so much culture and history to dive into. Sibiu has everything an old European city has to offer, though without the massive number of tourists found elsewhere. Read on and get your top-10-things-to-do-in-Sibiu-list.

You can spend one day alone wandering around the medieval town exploring its history

1. Historic Centre

The town was founded in the 12th century by German settlers, the Saxons. Evidence of the German influence throughout history is still to be found everywhere in Sibiu – from signs written in the German language to the naming and even the language is still spoken and taught here. Only two centuries after its foundation, the city had risen as an important trading centre. At that time, Sibiu was the capital of the Saxon settlement in Transylvania and due to its strategic location had to be fortified against attacks from the outside. With its central location in Transylvania, the city has been part of several different kingdoms throughout the centuries; the Austrian, Hungarian, Austro-Hungarian and now Romanian. Sibiu will therefore take you through eight centuries of history, where you can spend one day alone wandering around the medieval town exploring its history.

This square is called “Piata Mare”, meaning “Grand Square”

2. Piata Mare (Grand Square)

Every city has this one important square where all kind of events took place throughout history and still remains until this day as the very centre where modern days activities take place. In Sibiu, this square is called “Piata Mare”, meaning “Grand Square”. This is the very heart of the city and is surrounded by beautiful, historical buildings which host both a museum, cafés, restaurants and a church. The existence of the square can be traced back to 1366 alongside the finalization of the third fortification belt around the city. The first mention of it though wasn’t before 1411 where it was referred to as a grain market. It would later on during the 16th century become the heart of the citadel. This is a great place to start your exploration of Sibiu.

The Lutheran Cathedral is striking as a landmark of the city

3. Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary

With its elevated location inside the old, fortified town and an imposing 73 metres high steeple, the Lutheran Cathedral is striking as a landmark of the city. The construction of the cathedral was initiated in the 14th century on the site of a former 12th century, Romanesque church. Initially built to host the Catholic parish, it was later converted to host the Lutheran parish when the Transylvanian Saxons were converted to Protestantism in the 16th century. With a renovation just as recent as 2021, the church stands splendidly with its gothic façade dominating the exterior while the ancient tombs, sweeping arches and Europe’s largest organ furnishes the interior. An additional highlight of the church is climbing the tower which is a necessity to me to admire the city from above.

Another symbol of Sibiu is the Council Tower

4. Council Tower

Yet another symbol of Sibiu, and probably the most iconic one, is the Council Tower, situated in the historical city centre linking the two main squares, the Big Square and the Small Square. The original tower was built in the 13th century, but has been rebuilt multiple times since, eventually resulting in a change of its original architecture. Its name relates to the building next to it, which was the first city council in Sibiu. The original purpose however was to defend the city and was at the time of its construction built in to the second city wall. The purpose of this tower changed in the course of history, and was used as both a grain storage, a prison and a watchtower in case of fire. These days, besides climbing to the top of the tower to inhale this stunning view of Sibiu, it otherwise hosts various exhibitions on the floors passing by on the way to the top.

Wandering around Sibiu you might come across the Bridge of Lies

5. Bridge of Lies

Often times, a city rich in history hosts all kinds of interesting legends and stories. If you find yourself wandering around the centre of Sibiu, you might come across the famous “Bridge of Lies”. Besides the legends surrounding the bridge, its history is rather interesting, too. In 1859 the old wooden pedestrian bridge, connecting the old town to the new, was rebuilt with the first cast iron bridge in whole Romania. It was also the first bridge being built without any pylons which possibly leads to its name; in the German language the bridge was initially called “Liegenbrücke”, translated to “the bidge that lies”, sounding familiar to “Lügenbrücke” - the Bridge of Lies. The legends surrounding it are various; it is said that the name derives from tricky merchants, who would try to fool their clients, or another one saying that the bridge used to be a meeting place for lovers swearing either their eternal love or virginity to each other. The most popular legend however has it that the bridge will collapse while standing on it and telling a lie. Dare to try?

The Small Square is surrounded by beautiful, historical buildings

6. Piata Mica (Small Square)

After admiring the Grand Square, you might want to check out its counterpart – the Small Square. Only a short walk through the archway underneath the Council Tower and you will find yourself at the Small Square, surrounded by beautiful, historical buildings. Even though the name implies otherwise, the square isn’t small at all. Traffic wise the square is more alive with cars driving to and from the parking lot, the atmosphere however seems to be more peaceful than its busy neighbour. The buildings surrounding the square host a great variety of different functions, from cafés and restaurants to museums and hotels.

What once was a great palace has been turned into a public museum

7. Brukenthal National Museum

Amongst the beautiful, historical buildings surrounding the Grand Square, there is one building which is particularly interesting to explore more thoroughly – the Brukenthal Museum. What once was a great palace and home belonging to the Baron Brukenthal and his wife, has since 1817 been turned into a public museum, the very first of its kind in Romania. Samuel von Brukenthal was a great collector of art and with no heir on his own to inherit his legacy, his collections were due to testamentary dispositions to be open to the public after the last male descendant of the family dying out. The opening of his home and art collection happened in 1817 and has since been extended into a whole complex comprising of a whole bunch of different museums, separated into different historical buildings in different locations of the city. With a due interest in history, we chose to explore the complex with the history museum, which is located in the Altemberger House, an impressive architectural unit of Gothic architecture.

The main pedestrian street is lovely for taking a stroll

8. Strada Nicolae Balcescu

In a cosy city like Sibiu, the main pedestrian street is equally lovely for taking a stroll from the Grand Square in the heart of the centre to the Union Square in the opposite end. The first line of this street goes back to 1492 and was originally linking the marketplace with the city gate giving entrance to the city from the southern part. Along the stroll through the street, you’ll be met by a line of houses in Baroque and Neoclassical style from the 17th and 18th century since the original houses were mostly destroyed by a fire raiding in the 17th century. The street has a vibrant atmosphere with its cafés, restaurants and shops lined up one after the other.

The Citadel Street is the best-preserved part of Sibiu’s medieval fortress

9. Strada Cetatii (Citadel Street)

The best part of wandering around the historical city happens around the Citadel Street (Strada Cetatii). This is equally the best-preserved part of Sibiu’s medieval fortress with four towers still intact, distributed along the street together with a stretch of the original defence wall which protected the Upper Town. Originally, the number of defence towers in Sibiu were a total of 39 towers, of which only four remain. The four remaining towers are named for the guilds whose task it was to defend them: the Archer’s Tower, the Potter’s Tower, the Carpenter’s Tower and the Harquebusier’s Tower. The Carpenter’s and Potter’s Tower, which you both can visit and learn about their history, are linked through an outer corridor along the fortified wall, giving you a lovely view of the street from above. It’s pure magic walking along this street where the real medieval spirit which Sibiu is so popular for comes alive.

The Holy Trinity Church happens to be the second largest Orthodox church in Romania

10. Holy Trinity Cathedral

Romania is known for its stunning Orthodox churches, and after having visited one church after the other I felt that my astonishment of the beauty of these churches would never fade. We coincidentally walked by the Holy Trinity Church on our way home one evening and stood still for a second to admire this enormous construction from the outside. Instinctively, we had to explore what was inside this gigantic holy place which happens to be the second largest Orthodox church in Romania. The richness of the interior is incomparable and something you will have to explore for yourself as no words can describe this astonishing place. The church was inspired by Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia, though influenced by Transylvanian church architecture and Baroque elements. After many struggles from the Romanians to establish a big cathedral representing the Orthodox faith, their wish was finally granted in 1902 and came to life with the completion of the church in 1906.


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