Located in the heart of Transylvania, Sibiu is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Romania. Steeped in history and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, Sibiu offers visitors a unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. Its well-preserved medieval architecture, rich cultural heritage and picturesque setting make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience.
The history of Sibiu
The history of Sibiu, a medieval city in Transylvania, Romania, dates back to the 12th century when it was founded by German settlers known as the Transylvanian Saxons. The city, originally called Hermannstadt, was built on the Cibin River and became an important transit point for trade due to its strategic location on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains. Sibiu’s geographical position in the center of Romania allowed it to flourish as an important trading center, attracting craftsmen and merchants from various regions.
Before the arrival of the Saxons, the area where Sibiu stands today was home to a city called Cedonia (later Cibinium), founded after the Roman invasion of Dacia by Emperor Trajan.
In the 12th century, the kings of Hungary invited Saxon German settlers to repopulate their lands in Transylvania, which led to the founding of Sibiu and other settlements. Sibiu became the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built by the Saxons, with its wealth amassed by powerful guilds that dominated regional trade. The city’s architecture and urban layout reflect its Saxon heritage, with narrow streets, steep-roofed buildings from the 17th century, and large squares such as the Great Square and the Small Square. Sibiu’s Old Town, which includes the Upper Town and the Lower Town, is home to most of the city’s historical sights and is characterized by its colorful houses and cobblestone streets.
Throughout its history, Sibiu has been influenced by various cultures, including the Saxons, Hungarians and Romanians. This rich tapestry of influences is evident in the city’s architecture, traditions and cuisine. In the 17th century, the Saxon class structure became increasingly rigid, but the Saxons continued to play a leading economic role in Transylvania due to their trade with the Romanian principalities. Sibiu’s importance as a cultural and historical center was recognized in 2007 when it was named European Capital of Culture. Since then, tourism in the city has grown rapidly, transforming it from a hidden gem to one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. Today, Sibiu is a thriving city that proudly displays its heritage while embracing modernity and progress.
Interesting facts about Sibiu
1. Sibiu was named European Capital of Culture in 2007 in recognition of its outstanding cultural contributions to the continent.
2. The city is home to Romania’s first hospital, built in 1292, which still stands as a testament to Sibiu’s historical significance in healthcare.
3. Sibiu boasts a vibrant festival scene, with events such as the International Theater Festival and the Jazz Festival attracting artists and enthusiasts from all over the world.
4. The city’s Lower Town, with its colorful houses and narrow streets, is an architectural gem and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Sibiu is known for its many squares, including the Great Square (Piața Mare), the city’s main square and a lively gathering place for locals and tourists alike.
6. Sibiu is known as the “City with Eyes” due to the unique design of its rooftop windows, which resemble eyes watching over the city.
7. Sibiu was the first city in Romania to have a zoo, which is now a popular attraction for both locals and tourists.
Places to visit in Sibiu
1. The ASTRA National Museum Complex showcases Romania’s rich cultural heritage with an open-air museum of traditional houses, windmills and watermills.
2. The Brukenthal National Museum houses an impressive art collection, including works by famous painters such as Bruegel, Van Dyck and Tintoretto.
3. Pasajul Scărilor is a charming narrow alleyway that connects the Upper and Lower Towns and offers a glimpse into the city’s architectural past.
4. The Council Tower offers a panoramic view of Sibiu’s rooftops and surrounding landscapes, making it a popular spot for photographers and history buffs.
5. The Bridge of Lies (Podul Minciunilor) is a picturesque pedestrian bridge with a fascinating legend that it will collapse if someone tells a lie while standing on it.
Things to do in Sibiu
1. Explore the cobbled streets of the Old Town and immerse yourself in the well-preserved medieval atmosphere.
2. Visit the Sibiu Christmas Market during the holiday season, where you can enjoy traditional food, mulled wine and browse handmade crafts.
3. Attend a performance at the stunning Radu Stanca National Theatre, which hosts a wide range of plays, operas and ballets.
4. Take a leisurely stroll along the medieval city walls, enjoying the scenic views and tranquil atmosphere.
5. Indulge in the local cuisine by tasting traditional dishes such as sărmăluțe (stuffed cabbage rolls) and mici (grilled meat rolls), accompanied by a glass of Romanian wine.
With its rich history, Sibiu offers a glimpse into the past through its well-preserved medieval architecture and landmarks. The city’s intricate Gothic buildings, charming squares and imposing fortifications transport visitors to a bygone era. Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Town, one can’t help but feel a sense of awe and admiration for the city’s architectural treasures.
Beyond its architectural splendor, Sibiu is a cultural center that has fostered creativity and artistic expression throughout the years. The city hosts numerous festivals, including the International Theater Festival and the Jazz Festival, which attract talented artists from all over the world. The vibrant cultural scene is complemented by museums such as the Brukenthal National Museum, which houses an impressive collection of art from different eras.
Sibiu’s natural surroundings are equally captivating. Nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, the city is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and offers ample opportunities for outdoor exploration. From hiking in the nearby Făgăraș Mountains to strolling along the banks of the Cibin River, nature lovers will find solace in Sibiu’s scenic beauty.
In addition, Sibiu’s warm and welcoming atmosphere invites visitors to immerse themselves in the local way of life. The city’s vibrant markets, where locals sell fresh produce and handmade crafts, offer a glimpse into the daily lives of Sibiu’s residents. Traditional Romanian cuisine can be enjoyed in cozy local restaurants, allowing visitors to indulge in flavors that reflect the region’s culinary heritage.
Whether exploring the city’s historical landmarks, attending cultural events, or simply enjoying the local ambiance, there is no shortage of things to do in Sibiu. The city’s charm and allure have earned it a well-deserved reputation as a must-visit destination in Romania.
Where to stay in Sibiu
When planning a visit to the beautiful city of Sibiu, one of the most important aspects to consider is accommodation. Fortunately, Sibiu offers a wide range of options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. From luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses, the city offers a variety of accommodations to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
Luxury Hotels in Sibiu: For those seeking indulgence and upscale amenities, Sibiu boasts several luxury hotels that offer a premium experience. These hotels offer elegant rooms, impeccable service and a range of facilities to enhance your stay. Many of these establishments are housed in historic buildings, adding to the charm of the city. With on-site spas, gourmet restaurants, and breathtaking views, luxury hotels in Sibiu offer a truly opulent experience for discerning travelers.
Boutique Hotels in Sibiu: Sibiu is also home to numerous boutique hotels that offer a more intimate and personalized experience. These smaller establishments often boast unique designs, attention to detail and a warm atmosphere. From stylish rooms with contemporary furnishings to charming courtyard gardens, boutique hotels in Sibiu combine comfort with character, ensuring a memorable stay.
Guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts in Sibiu: For a more authentic and home-like experience, many visitors choose to stay in guesthouses or bed & breakfasts. Sibiu’s guesthouses offer cozy rooms and warm hospitality, often run by friendly local hosts who offer insider tips and personal recommendations. These accommodations offer a glimpse into the local way of life and allow travelers to immerse themselves in the city’s culture and traditions.
Apartments and vacation rentals in Sibiu: If you prefer a self-catering option or are traveling with a larger group, Sibiu offers a variety of apartments and vacation rentals. These fully furnished accommodations offer the freedom and flexibility to create your own schedule while enjoying the comforts of a home away from home. Apartments and vacation rentals range from modern downtown apartments to charming cottages on the outskirts of town, catering to a variety of preferences and budgets.
Budget-friendly options in Sibiu: Travelers on a tighter budget will find several affordable accommodation options in Sibiu. Hostels and budget hotels offer comfortable rooms at reasonable prices, making it possible to explore the city without breaking the bank. These accommodations often offer shared facilities and common areas, creating opportunities to meet fellow travelers and share experiences.
Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, Sibiu’s central location ensures easy access to the city’s main attractions. Many accommodations are within walking distance of the historic center, allowing visitors to easily explore the city’s architectural wonders, vibrant squares and cultural landmarks.
When planning your stay in Sibiu, it is advisable to book well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons and popular events. This will ensure that you secure the accommodation that best suits your needs and preferences. Whichever option you choose, you won’t be disappointed.