Sibiu, Hermannstadt in German, is one of the seven fortified towns of Transylvania. It’s considered to be one of the best preserved medieval towns in Romania, one of the reasons why it was chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2007. Today it is a nice and quiet middle size town, population about 160,000.
It lays on Cibin River, in south – western part of Transylvania, surrounded by Fagaras and Cindrel Mountains to the south and by the Transylvanian hills to the north and east.avaru on the west, Bucegi, Piatra Mare and Ciucas on the south) and open to the Transylvanian hills to the north and east.
Sibiu developed on the site of a very old settlement, traces from the Stone and the Bronze Age being found in its surroundings, During the Roman period the place was named Cibinum. Later, in the second part of the 12 century, the first Saxon colonists arrived, from today’s Luxemburg and Germany. Partially destroyed by the Mongols, in 1241, the town recovered fast due to its position and later became the most powerful and well developed from all Transylvanian German towns. The first fortifications, built after the Mongols attack were enlarged, Sibiu being the only fortified town that successfully resisted against three Otoman sieges, in mid 15th century. In 18th and mid 19th century the Austrian governors of Transylvania had the residence here, the town being consider the capital of the province. A good example of the advantages the town had was the Art Museum, founded by Samuel von Brukenthal, one of the governors, open to public in 1817, after his death.
After the unification with Romania, in 1918, a lot of things changed in the German towns, including Sibiu, the Romanian becoming the ruling class, from a tolerated one. Things got worst after WWII, when the political regime made a lot of native Germans to emigrate. The process continued even after 1989, now only about 5,500 Germans still living in this town.
- the fortifications, starting with the first ring, built around the first Catholic Church of the small Saxon community, in 12th – 13th century. Enlarged in time, in 17th century the wall protected the upper and also the lower town, being reinforced with 39 towers and 4 bastions
- the Lutheran Church, built between mid 14th and beginning of 16th century, in Gothic style. Initially Catholic, it suffered during the 16th century religious Reformation, the interior being changed, the only parts that survived being the fresco of the Crucifixion from 1445 and parts from the old altar.
- the Small Square, with its 14th century Council Tower and the famous 1859 Liar’s Bridge, the first iron bridge in Transylvania.
- the Large Square, surrounded by 15th to 19th century buildings, including the early 18th century Catholic Church and the late 18th century Brukenthal Palace, housing the Art Museum. Not far it’s the 15th century former town hall, now the History Museum.
- outside the town, in Dumbrava forest, is Astra Village Museum, the largest and most interesting in the country.