Sighișoara Sighisoara Reviews
Wonderful Sighisoara Nov 21, 2013
Far away in a fairy-tale land, the fortress city of Sighisoara rises above the mist of the Tarnava River and presents itself as the best preserved Saxon municipality in Transylvania. Although most of the surviving Saxons who had once lived here have emigrated to Germany, the city’s cobblestone streets, thick fortress’s walls, massive Clock Tower, and century-old stone houses still remain, defying the forces of wind and rain and testifying to the enduring strength of the Siebenburger Saxon culture. During my vacation there I spoke with a 92 year-old German woman across the street from Burg Hostel Sighisoara, where I had stayed. She reminded me that Transylvania was a heaven on earth before the communists after World War II had confiscated the lands of its farmers. Hearing a teacher instruct his pupils about basic mathematics in high German in the nearby elementary school, I realized that the German culture was still heavily imbued in the education of the city’s children.
As the birthplace of Prince Vlad Tepes, more popularly known as Count Dracula, Sighisoara is a special place for admirers of the Count who had terrified Transylvania’s Turkish invaders by having his soldiers drive stakes through their hearts. Tourists are reminded of him in the souvenir shops by little dolls having streaks of red paint on the sides of their mouths.
Wandering along Oberth Street, I stopped in convenience stores where one can buy canned foods, bottled water, fruit juices, milk, and other beverages. The street also had a couple of money exchange services, a fast-food kiosk, and a bakery. There were also a few dimly lit restaurants/taverns that were relatively empty during the day, providing tourists quickly available meals and beverages. Under a sun umbrella outside of the Perla Restaurant on Piata Hermann Oberth (Square) I enjoyed a Mediterranean salad for lunch while observing other customers eating goulash, soups, stuffed cabbages, roasted chicken, and other delicious Romanian meals. There were several other restaurants on or near the Piata, including Jo Pizzerie, Cafe Martini Habermann, and the Concordia, all of which seemed to be fairly busy around lunchtime.
From Oberth’s Square I climbed the steep cobblestone street of Strada Turnului and passed through a small tunnel. On my left I peered through a locked iron-grill door at what appeared to be an empty prison cell. Turning my head to the right, I gazed upward at the city’s massive Clock Tower. I ambled through the tunnel under the Clock Tower, passed the Torture Room Museum, and entered the square enclosed by the Clock Tower, Church of the Dominican Monastery, Tourist Information Center, and Medieval Arms Museum. Then I entered the History Museum in the Clock Tower. It cost 12 Lei to tour the museum and to climb the stairs to the top of the tower where you can enjoy a beautiful, panoramic view of Sighisoara. For 30 Lei you are even permitted to take a picture of it! Leaving the tower, I continued my walk up the hill past Casa Dracula, the birthplace of the world’s most famous Count. At the top of the street I turned right and ambled down the street to the Roman Catholic Church and Tailor’s Tower.
I retraced my steps until I reached Strada Turnului and then I proceeded down Strada Scolii for a couple of hundred meters until I reached the dark, covered wooden stairway leading up to the city’s high school. The stairway was built more than 300 years ago to protect the school’s students and teachers from the cold wind, ice, and snow of Transylvania’s winter. As I walked up its 172 steps I thought I was alone until the stairway was flooded by students taking a break from their morning classes. One teenage boy greeted me with a “Hello” to which I responded in a loud voice, “What’s up!” From the stairway below me, my chant was reverberated several times not as echoes but as expressions from young boys yelling “What’s up!” accompanied by giggles of appreciation for my humor.
Having made it to the top of the stairway, I walked past the German high school at the top of the mountain and arrived at the cemetery behind the Lutheran “Church on the Hill.” From this sacred ground of tranquility I had a spectacular view of the lower town and the surrounding countryside. I then descended the mountain just as I had ascended it, but I visited the Tourist Information Center near the Clock Tower on the way down and arranged to have a taxi tour of the fortified churches of Biertan, Mosna, Valea Viilor, Richis, and Malankrav the next day. This was my second visit to Sighisoara and it was even better than the first one. More information about my trip is at http://www.rocherichard.com/category/blog/about-romania .
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