Sighișoara is a historic city situated in central Romania on the Tarnava Mare River which flows through Transylvania. The city’s population is circa 40.000 inhabitants. It is the alleged birthplace of Dracula.
Sighișoara resembles a medieval settlement and can be proud of having one of the best preserved old towns in Central and Eastern Europe. The fortified complex is located on a hill. It is worth walking along the city's narrow streets, ’to loose one’s way’ and ‘get lost’. The museum-town, as it is sometimes called, attracts tourists, architects, historians, students of Fine Arts. Undoubtedly it is a site full specific atmosphere worth seeing while visiting Transylvania. Since 1999 Sigiszoara has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Originally Sighișoara was known under the Latin name Castrum Sex. It was named so as early as in 1191. In the 12th century German craftspeople (Saxons) were invited here by the Hungarian king aiming at increasing the population and protecting the borders of the state. Craft and trade dramatically developed, a number of guilds were established.
In 1298, by the order of the Pope Boniface VIII, a Dominican Order Monastery was founded here. German colonists erected fortifications and a urban complex of buildings made of brick emerged.
In Hungarian records dating back to the 14th century the settlement is mentioned under different names: Segesvar, Castrum Schez, Castrum Scheks. Also the German name – Schassburg was used. Interestingly, the settlement was awarded the urban status as late as in 1367.
In 1431 Vlad Țepeș, who became later a Ruler of Wallachia was born in here (hospodar means in Russian – a duke, ruler). He was later known as Dracula. In the 16th century many buildings in Late-Gothic and Renaissance style were built in Sighișoara. The city survived the Turkish occupation, numerous fires, epidemics and plagues, by which it was haunted three times (in the years 1604, 1647 and 1709). As a result the city’s population was decimated.
During the period of the Hungarian revolution of 1848 a battle led by General Josef Bem was fought in here.
As a result of the collapse of Austria-Hungary which took place after the First World War Sighișoara was incorporated into the Kingdom of Romania. After the world conflict had been finished and the Communists had seized the power the city was proclaimed a historic site, did not have to be rebuilt and was not the subject of the Communist industrialization.
The Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas) is a symbol and, at the same time, a landmark of the city. It was built in 1556. Once it was a gathering place of the municipal council as well as viewing point. It was one of the elements of the entire fortification complex which was supposed to protect the inhabitants, i.e. from Turkish invasions. In 1648 a clock working till the present day was mounted on the tower. After a fire from 1677 it was reconstructed, a decorative roof made by two artists from Tyrol was added. The tower is 64 meters tall. At present there is an observation point here from which one has a view of the city and the neighbourhood. The tower additionally houses a small Museum of History in which one can admire documents of historic value, coins and old daily necessities.
Dominican Order Church (Biserica monastirii dominicane) is the oldest religious building in the city. In the Middle Ages there was a Dominican Monastery in here. Its patron was the Virgin Mary. After the Saxons had converted to Lutheranism in 1547, the building became a Lutheran church and the major church in the city. The most valuable monument can be admired inside the church – it is a Baptismal bowl from the 15th century. Inside the church the tourists can also see a collection of Eastern carpets. Merchants returning back from sales trips lay down them as thanksgiving for their happy journey and prayed, at the same time, for further protection, intercession and prosperity in business. At present, as a result of a reconstruction it is a hall church in Gothic style.
The House of Dracula (Casa Dracula) is located near the Clock Tower. It is easy to get there as its façade is painted in ocher colour. This is the oldest secular building in the city. Originally the building had only a ground floor and was built out of boulders; the other floors were added in the 17th century. As the legend says, Vlad Țepeș who was to become the prototype of the famous Dracula in the novel by ‘Bram’ Stoker was born and lived here between 1431–1436. He was also called Vlad Dracula after the name of a military Dragon Order to which he belonged (by a decree of the pope the order was supposed to protect Christian values as well as the believers themselves from the growing power of the Ottoman Empire). As a child he was kidnapped by Turkeys (he was held hostage since the Muslims wanted in this way to force his father to loyalty towards their empire). In Turkey he spent seven long years. In 1448, by the decision of Turkeys he mounted the Wallachian throne and was proclaimed the Ruler of Wallachia. Eventually, he was overthrown by Hungarians. However, after beating the Hungarian pretendent to the throne he became again the ruler of this land. (1456)
The Ruler of Wallachia (hospodar) was known for his cruelty (he ordered to impale his enemies and opponents). On the other hand he strongly supported the middle class and Wallachian merchants. During his lifetime the current name of the city began to be used. In the beginning he maintained peaceful relationships with Turkey and regularly paid the tribute. Over time he went, however, to war against the sultan. It was the idea of Vlad the Impaler to create the ill – famed "Forest of the Impaled” (the sultan with his army witnessed during his march through Wallachia a great number of Turkish prisoners being impaled. Acting like this Vlad frightened his enemies and forced them to retreat without any armed intervention).
Dracula died after an assassination organized by his enemies (according to another version he shall have been incidentally injured by his soldier in a battle). As the legend says, the head of Vlad was preserved in honey and sent to the Turkish court as a war trophy. The body of the count himself is said to be buried somewhere near Bucharest. At present his house is one of the most important tourist attractions in the city. Inside, there is an exclusive restaurant and a Weapon Museum. Above the entrance there is a dragon emblem (from the Dragon Order to which Vlad’s father belonged). The emblem was made in a workshop of art black-smithery.
School Stars (Scara şcolarilor) – are wooden steps leading from the city up to the hill. It is a covered place and was probably built in 1662. In the beginning the stairs had 300 steps, at present their number is 172. On the hill there was the oldest school in the city; the students as well as their teachers used the stairs in bad weather. In the winter it was one of the safest ways to get to the building. At present the stairs are one of tourist attractions of Sighișoara. Walking up the stairs one can get to the building of an old school from 1619, the Joseph Haltrich Middle School built in 1792-1817. On the hill there is also a church.
The Church on the Hill (Biserica din Deal) – is a religious building situated on the School Hill. It was built between 1345–1525. Located on the highest point of the Old Town, the church was rebuilt for several times. Originally it served as a Catholic church. However, after the city’s inhabitants had converted to Lutheranism in 1547, it became a parish church and the major church in the city. Inside 14 tombstones were placed. Along the aisles we can admire heraldries of king Matthias Corvinus, king Władysław of Varna and the duke Stephen Báthory. The construction of the church was mainly funded by merchants who used to travel from West to East. They lay down their valuable gifts as a thanksgiving for their happy journey. Interestingly, the major altar was made by John Stoss (the son of the famous Veit Stoss who had made the altar in the Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven in Cracow).
The Protestant cemetery (Vechi cimitir evanghelic) is situated within the city boundaries, near to the Church on the Hill. It is still used by German speaking inhabitants living in Sighișoara. Monumental Saxon tombstones and a picturesque park make this place worth visiting. A major part of the tombstones date back to the late 19Th and early 20th century.
The Tailor’s Tower (Turnul Croitorilor) is one of defense towers of the city. It was probably built in the 14th century. A massive construction and simplicity are characteristic of the tower erected on a rectangular plan. The tower was damaged by fire from 1676; the gunpowder stored inside was burnt up and the weapon and wheat stored in the same place were destroyed. The building was partially reconstructed in 1679. However, it gained its original appearance not earlier than in 1935.
The Holy Trinity Church, Sighişoara (Biserica „Sfânta Treime” din Sighișoara) is an Orthodox Cathedral which was built between 1934–1937. It is situated on the river, beneath the Old Town. It represents the Byzantine style whereas its interior is simple representing the Renaissance style. The construction cost was 12 millions lei.
The House with Deer (Casa cu Cerb) it is one of the most beautiful and oldest tenement houses in the city. Its specific name derives from an overhanging antlers and a picture of a deer which was mounted on the house’s façade. In the 13th century it was a wooden house but four centuries later, in the 17th century it became a brick one. The tenement house was the seat of rich merchants and important personalities. The house is located not far away from of the Clock Tower. In the years 1997–2001 the house was renovated thanks to the funds of a German foundation with the seat in Munich.
Rope Makers Guild Tower (Turnul Franghierilor) – it is one of 9 defensive towers which is situated on the School Hill. In 1241 the tower was destroyed by Tatars. It was rebuilt in 1350. It is one of a few towers which survived the fire from 1676 in an unspoiled condition.
A hotel worth recommendation is the hotel Transylwania located on the outskirts of the city. The rooms are spacious and tidy; from the hotel one can reach the historic Old Town within 30 minutes. In the hotel there is also a restaurant in which the Romanian as well as the international cuisine is served. The staff speaks English well.
An example price: 270 lei for a two-person room with two-day-stay.
Hotel Transilvania str N Filipescu nr. 1A Mures Romania 545400 Sighisoara Tel: 0040 265 770500 Fax: 0040 265 770501 e-mail: email@example.com http://www.hoteltransilvaniasighisoara.com/ro/
Cena z września 2013 roku.
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