©Hermannstadt | Sibiu, Transylvania (copyright: creative commons)
Sibiu, one of the Siebenburgen, as the Saxons called the Seven Citadels of Transylvania, is located in the southern part of Transylvania, on the Cibin River. The city is the seat of Sibiu County, which is bordered by the Fagaras Mountains, the Cibin Mountains, the Lotrului Mountains, and the Tarnavelor Plateau to the north.
With a current population of 147,245 inhabitants, Sibiu was the capital of Transylvania between 1849 and 1865.
History of the settlement
Sibiu was founded in the 12th century by German colonizers (Saxons, or Sasi in Romanian), on the site of the old Roman settlement Cibinium.
Names of the settlement
Sibiu is also known by two other names given to it by the settlers of the area – Hermannstadt by the Saxons and Nagyszeben by the Hungarians.
The old Citadel of Sibiu is one of the most inspiring and impressive parts of the city, with long portions of its defensive walls being preserved to this day. However, the main attraction of Sibiu is the Old Town. Here, tourists can observe the separation that occurred between the social classes of Sibiu, by visiting the Upper Town and the Lower Town, the area between the Cibin River and the hill.
In contrast with the Lower Town, which was the home of merchants and craftsmen and has fewer touristic attractions, the Upper Town houses numerous landmarks, due to the fact that this quarter of Sibiu was inhabited by nobility and other wealthy citizens.
The Lower Town and the Upper Town are connected by the Passage of the Stairs, the most striking of the seven passages that connect the two parts of historic Sibiu.
Among the most interesting places and edifices to visit in Sibiu are the three main squares of the city, the Grand Square, the Lesser Square, with the Liars’ Bridge, and the Huet Square, lined by beautiful Gothic buildings.
Rent a bike and enjoy the beauty of the area, with a stop at the nearby charming village of Rasinari, which dates from the 13th century.
Those who are interested in the outdoors, can hike the Fagaras and Cindrel Mountains.
The ‘ASTRA’ Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization is the biggest open air museum in Europe. Located only 3 kilometers away from Sibiu, it can be reached by bus or car.
In the Grand Square, tourists can admire the Brukhental Palace, one of the oldest museums in the world, the Jesuit Church, and the Council tower.
For more insight into the culture of the area, it’s a good idea to take a daytrip to Marginimea Sibiului (literally, the outskirts of Sibiu), an area surrounding the city comprising of 18 villages where you can witness the authentic culture and traditions of Romanians, Hungarians, and Germans.
Another major attraction nearby Sibiu is the Transfagarasan Highway, a high altitude alpine road that cuts its way through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Romania.
How to get there:
Sibiu is easily accessible by bus, car, train, or airport. The closest cities are Brasov to the east, Deva to the east and Cluj-Napoca to the north.