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Sighisoara citadel – attractions, history & things to do

Visit Sighisoara citadel

When you visit Sighisoara citadel, you feel like you stepped back in time. Located right in the centre of the country, halfway between Brasov and Sibiu, Sighisoara seems to form together with the two medieval cities a triangle of the most beautiful settlements in Romania.

If you plan to visit Sighisoara, find out below what are the top attractions in the city. The fortress with narrow and cobbled streets is a jewel worth discovering. It has colourful houses, defence towers and witness walls to important fragments of the country’s history.

Today’s Sighisoara is an explosion of colour. At the same time, it is a well-preserved sheet of history. It is considered an open-air museum. Its mixture of different cultures that have intertwined here, enhance the charm you now find on every alley, in every building and on every street corner.

A short history of Sighisoara citadel

Many years have passed since 1280, from the first documentary attestation of the Sighișoara fortress, under the name of “Castrum Sex”. In 1999 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today it is the only medieval fortress in Europe that was and still is constantly inhabited.

In ancient times the Szeklers lived in the present area of the fortress. In the medieval period they were moved to the borders. The fortress was colonized by Saxons, craftsmen, organized in guilds, with well-established rules of operation and perfect order in the management of the city.

The Medieval Fortress of Sighisoara was built by the Saxons. It dates back to the 13th century, during the glorious era of the fortification. At that time it had 15 defence towers, 5 artillery bastions and 2 barbicans guarding the main gates.

However, the fortress was not protected from conflicts or unfortunate events. In addition to the periodic invasions of other peoples, Sighisoara also had to face epidemics of plague, earthquakes and fires. Of all, the one that survived the most in the history of the city was the fire at the end of April 1676. It is said to have started in the house of a widowed woman who forgot a burning fire while washing clothes. The fire spread to the attic of the house and from there to other houses. So, 70% of the city of Sighisoara burned then. Later, the houses were rebuilt in brick and stone to withstand other such calamities.

To visit the Sighisoara fortress, you can either stay in the city at one of the medieval-looking guesthouses, or you can come on a day trip from Sibiu or Brasov.Discover other medieval towns in Transylvania.

One day in Sighisoara is enough to discover its charm and win your heart. You will have enough time to walk on its cobbled streets and discover the main places to visit in the city.

So here are the main tourist attractions in Sighisoara:

The clock tower

Clock tower Sighisoara landmarks

The Clock Tower is the most emblematic tourist attraction in Sighisoara. It is 64 m high, the lower part of the tower dates from the 14th century, and the upper levels are added later.

Considered also the symbol of the city of Sighișoara, the Clock Tower is one of the strategic towers. From it, the fortress was defended in case of possible sieges. It is the tallest of the towers, and for this reason, is the most visible of all.

Thus, it protects the main entrance of the fortress which is now accessible through the passage that passes under the tower. In its construction, it combines a variety of architectural styles, as it was built in steps. And the trends of each period have left their mark on it – from the Gothic style to specific influences of the Renaissance, then Romantic and Baroque.

The roof, destroyed by the city fire of 1676, was rebuilt by Austrian craftsmen the following year. Its bulb shape is the oldest surviving evidence of the penetration of the Austrian Baroque into Transylvania.

In 1894 the roof was replaced with the current one, with glazed tiles, and in 1900 the annexe building was rebuilt. The clock existed in 1648 when the master Johann Kirtschel added the quarters of an hour and the figurines that represent the days of the week, also rebuilt by him after the fire of 1676.

From the top of the tower, the view over the city is spectacular. And if you are there at a fixed time you will be able to admire the spectacle offered by the 300-year-old clock. The giant clock includes two dials on both sides of the tower – the entrance and the fortress – each measuring almost 2 and a half meters in diameter and accompanied by carved wooden figurines, representing important symbols for people’s lives in the past.

Over time, the tower has played different roles, from prison to the city hall, and currently houses the History Museum in Sighisoara.

If you choose to pass the walls of the Sighisoara fortress right at the main entrance, where the Sighisoara Clock Tower is, you will first see the torture chamber. It is a very small room, but full of various torture techniques for evil-doers.

The monastery church

Right next to the Clock Tower, on its left side, the Monastery Church was attested in 1298. It belonged to the Dominican monks until their expulsion and the conversion of the Saxons to Lutheranism.

Sighisoara Citadel Square

Sighisoara Citadel square

After passing beyond the walls of old Sighișoara, coming slowly from the Clock Tower, you immediately reach the central square of the fortress. This is the place where the performances took place, the punishments with the public and the markets of the craftsmen.

It is certain that the market was the main attraction of the city then and continues to be today, even if it no longer has the same role in the lives of today’s inhabitants.

Now you can find here terraces with tables spread out in the sun, waiting for their guests, next to buildings glittering in bright colours.

See what other cities you can visit in Romania.

Special houses in the Sighișoara fortress

There are a few houses inside the fortress that have their own special stories. Walking down the streets you can’t help but notice them. Some are even centrally located, near the Clock Tower and the Citadel Square, others you can find on the adjacent streets, but are just as charming.

The house of Vlad Dracul

The first one you see once you enter the fortress is, perhaps, the most promoted among tourists – Vlad Dracul’s House – the place where the former ruler of Wallachia withdrew to prepare for his return to the throne. It is also said that his son, Vlad the Impaler, was born, which makes it an attraction, especially for fans of Dracula’s legends.

The Venetian house

Even opposite it, the Venetian House stands out through its atypical architecture compared to the rest of the houses in the fortress. Legend has it that Mayor Stephanus Mann had a passion for a beautiful Venetian woman and built this Venetian-style house in the middle of the city, with stairs leading down to the gondola and neo-Gothic windows.

The blacksmith’s tower

The Blacksmith’s Tower was built in 1631 on the site of the old Barber’s Tower. It burned in the fire of 1676 and then was repaired. It is located next to the Clock Tower, behind the monastery church and it can be visited.

Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph

Roman Catholic church Sighisoara citadel

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Sighisoara is one of the famous old churches in the medieval city. This construction is characterized by an eclectic style, dominated by neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architectural elements. The church has a 30 m long nave with a semicircular apse, a transept and a very tall bell tower.

The construction of the church began in 1895, during the time of the parish priest Josef Weiss. It was built on the site of an old church from the Middle Ages, belonging, before the Reformation, to the Dominican Sisters, and after the Reformation in 1723, the Franciscan brothers. It was consecrated on October 4, 1896.

Read also: Visit Cluj Napoca – attractions & things to do

Shoemaker’s Tower

Shoemaker's Tower Sighișoara places to see

The Shoemaker’s Tower had a defensive role, and although it dates back to ancient times, being mentioned as early as 1521, it took its shape today in 1681. This objective cannot be visited. Today here is the headquarters of a radio.

Tailors’ Tower Sighisoara

The Tailors’ Tower was built in the 15th century, its purpose being to store, but in case of danger, the two gangways could be closed with metal gates. In 1676, during the fire, the gunpowder stored here exploded, destroying the upper part of the tower. The Tailors’ Tower guards the second most important entrance to the fortress and is on the other side of the Clock Tower.

Covered staircase or school staircase

Covered staircase Sighisoara things to do

The covered staircase was built in 1642, on the initiative of Mayor Johann Both, to make it easier for students, during severe winters or rains, to access the school next to the church on the hill.
Initially, the School Staircase, built of wood and covered, had 300 steps. After a change in 1849, it retained 175 steps, interrupted by several wide platforms.

This beautiful, tunnel-like staircase, through whose wooden slats the sun’s rays penetrate, leads to the top of the hill, where there is an old Gothic church and an evangelical school.

One of the legends of the ladder says that a boy must kiss the girl he loves on every step of the ladder and say his name without making a mistake. If he succeeds, it means he is the right boy for the girl.

The school on the hill

In 1619 the mayor Martin Eisenburger ordered a building to be built next to the existing one, this new building bearing the inscription Schola Seminarium Reipublicae-1619. The new building is based on a defence tower from an older fortification.

In 1620 the rector Simon Hartmann organized the middle classes according to the model of the three most important schools in Transylvania at that time (Brașov, Sibiu and Bistrița), the graduates having the right to attend any university.

Read also: Visit Sibiu – attractions and things to do

The church on the hill

Attractions Sighisoara Church on the hill

The hilltop church in Sighișoara is an evangelical church that was built in several stages between 1345-1525. Dedicated to St. Nicholas, it is located at the top of the so-called “School Hill” (in German Schulberg).

Considered the most valuable architectural monument in the city, it is the fourth largest Gothic church in Transylvania and includes a Romanesque chapel and a quadrangular keep. It has a 42 m high bell tower that makes a foreign body like the rest of the building, and which goes a little to the south.

It has the only known crypt in Transylvania below the choir and contains tombs from the 16th-18th centuries.

Sighisoara Citadel has a special charm. If you visit Sighisoara, you will also love the crowded streets, the cobblestones of yesteryear, the chic but elegantly decorated houses with flowers, the buildings reminiscent of old guilds and the buildings full of spirituality. A walk through the fortress will win your heart and make you want to come back to feel its medieval scent.

The Sighisoara citadel is included in several tours:

2 weeks in Romania Unesco tour

Price on request
The UNESCO itinerary in Romania was created to offer you a 14-day holiday in which you will enjoy a mix of culture, adventure and relaxing moments. During this 2 weeks in Romania you will discover the UNESCO heritage sites and other famous places. The Horezu monastery, the fortified churches in Transylvania, the old, wooden churches of Maramures, the ancient fortresses in Orastie mountains, the painted monasteries of Bucovina, with their unique colours and Sighisoara, the only medieval citadel in Europe will show you why they deserve to be on the UNESCO world heritage list. This Romania guided tour will take you to see also other beautiful attractions in Romania so you can have a full image of what this Eastern-European country has to offer to its visitors. Or you can try another long tour in Romania.

3 days in Transylvania medieval tour

Price on request
Transylvania is a land full of legends, fortresses, and shadows of the knights that once lived here. Are you ready to discover them? Medieval Transylvania tour will show you the beautiful cities of Sibiu and Brasov, both dated from ancient times, the Sighisoara citadel, the only citadel in Europe still inhabited, some amazing fortresses and the remains of medieval history – the fortified churches. This itinerary in Transylvania will be enough to make you want to come back again. And if you want more, choose a longer tour from our Transylvania experiences.

7 days in Transylvania road trip

Price on request
Are you ready to enjoy a 7-day Transylvania tour and discover the best of it? This region in Romania is a perfect choice for a road trip: beautiful cities, charming villages and windy roads are ready to welcome you. This 7-day itinerary in Transylvania was designed to offer you a relaxing holiday. During this tour, you will discover mysterious legends and exciting stories. Medieval cities and fairy tale castles will unveil themselves in front of you. Your taste buds will be charmed by the local cuisine. Beautiful landscapes will amaze you and the most important places in Transylvania will be discovered one by one! Or you can try another tour in Transylvania.

Dracula tour in Romania – 8 days

Price on request
Spend 8 days in Romania and explore the mysterious land of Transylvania. Transylvania is known to be the land of Dracula, but do you know how the legend of the famous vampire came alive and who really was he (because he was a real person that inspired the story)? Did you feel chills and goosebumps when reading Bram Stocker’s novel? Are you curious to visit the places mentioned in the book and the castles that hosted the major life events of Vlad the Impaler, the cruel ruler known to be Dracula? Then this is the perfect tour for you! Enjoy this 8-day itinerary in Romania for an adventure that will offer you mysterious places, breath-taking landscapes and a little bit of history. This 8-day Dracula tour in Romania includes the places mentioned in the book connected with Dracula or with the journey of Johnathan Harker in Romania. But this is also an amazing opportunity to find out everything you want about Vlad the Impaler. On the way you will also explore the places where the major events in his life took place. (his birthplace, his castles etc) The legends about vampires in Transylvania, ghost stories and creepy rituals interwine with the real history. And at the end you will have a full picture of this mysterious region called Transylvania. Check here other long trips in Transylvania.

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