Right in the heart of Romania, there’s one city that seems to have defied the rules of time.
A place inspiring both nostalgia and enthusiasm, Sighisoara has come to be perceived as a must-visit place when in Transylvania.
If you leaf through a Sighisoara city guide, you’ll most likely stumble upon the notorious name of Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Impaler.
Is this the reason Sighisoara is so hailed? Not quite.
The uphill settlement indeed carries a bit of Dracula-related history, but more than that, its fortified walls enclose a fascination tourists love to experience.
900-year old walls brimming with tourists and locals alike is no wonder to drive this kind of enthusiasm. That’s why we thought of getting into more details and comprising a comprehensive Sighisoara city guide.
Sighisoara is practically an open-air museum.
*insert panoramic photo*
It came to being in the 12th century, when the Transylvanian Saxons (of German origin) were sent by the Hungarian king to ensure the defense at the Eastern borders of the Magyar kingdom.
It grew to achieve urban status in the 14th century due to its increased strategic significance. This is also the time the citadel started its fortification. Out of the 14 towers being built back then, 9 are still standing to this day.
Sighisoara was also an economically sound Transylvanian site, with its trade being supported by the Saxon craftsmen and artisans. The fortified walls of the citadel were home to roughly 15 guilds supported by local smiths.
Vlad Dracul’s House
This edifice is the main reason why Sighisoara is sometimes dubbed ‘the home of Vlad the Impaler’.
Vlad II, also known as Vlad Dracul, was a Wallachian voivode who lived in Sighisoara during his exile years (between 1431 and 1435 – according to historian Radu Florescu).
During that time, he is said to have inhabited the oldest civilian building in the fortress.
Rumor has it, this is where his son – famous Count Dracula – was born.
The house is surrounded by mystery and historical inaccuracies, but it still drives interest. You can find it inside the main Citadel Square – and you can also eat there, since it has been turned into a fancy medieval-themed restaurant.
The Citadel Clock Tower
The imposing citadel clock tower catches your eye as soon as you get to Sighisoara. Its 64-meter high Baroque walls dominate the hill upon which the stronghold is situated.
In its early 14th century days, it served several purposes such as:
- protecting the main gate of the citadel
- storing the city archives and riches
- administrative building
In the 17th century, the clock was mounted onto the tower.
Several lime wood figurines were provided as decorative elements that change every midnight. The statuettes represent weekdays embodied by gods: Diana, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, the Sun.
Apart from admiring the clock from the outside, visitors can also peek into its internal mechanism.
While climbing the tight tower staircase, you’ll actually visit the City Museum spread across several floors.
The clock mechanism is located on the top floor.
Then, you’ll get access to the observation platform where you can admire the spectacular panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. A great spot for selfies, we’d say.
Sighisoara City Guide – Inside the Citadel
As you can imagine, Sighisoara is considered a ‘medieval jewel’ for good reason.
It encloses several historical treasures in the form of well-preserved 14th-to-18th buildings and sites.
Here are the ones you may want to ask for:
- the Students’ Stairway – presents 172 steps that provided a pathway to the school near the Fortress Church. Now it helps visitors get from the city center to the Church on the Hill.
- The Stag House – 17th-century building now serving the Romanian-German Cultural Center.
- The Blacksmiths’ Tower
- The Ropemakers’ Tower
- The Butchers’ Tower
- The Tailors’ Tower
- The Furriers’ Tower
- The Shoemakers’ Tower
- The Tinsmiths’ Tower
- The Tanners’ Tower
Sighisoara Medieval Festival – Not to Be Missed
By now, we’ve been mentioning the medieval flair Sighisoara conveys.
So, if you want to see it on full display, make sure you plan your trip at the end of July.
More exactly, between July, 28-30, when the 24th edition of the famous Sighisoara Medieval Festival is held this year.
If you plan your trip to Transylvania this time of the summer, you’ll be able to get a taste of what the old citadel life was like.
These are the elements helping you reconstitute this atmosphere:
- medieval dances
- knight fights
- folk and medieval music
- medieval masks and attires
- open-air medieval plays
- torch parades at night
Our suggestion: if you’re planning on a more off-season trip and you’re also a music lover, the Sighisoara Blues Festival taking place in late March each year could spark your interest.
How to Get There
Now it’s time we disclose the transportation options to Sighisoara.
Sighisoara is practically the heart of Romania – here you have an important train node from where you can get to all corners of the country in a few hours.
Let’s break it down like this:
- by plane: depending on the rest of your itinerary across Romania, you can search for flights to these airports: Cluj-Napoca (CLJ), Bucuresti Otopeni (OTP) or Sibiu (SBZ). Cluj-Napoca and Sibiu are both situated within less than 100 miles reach, but from Bucharest, you can get more road connections.
- by train: If you take the train from Romania, it’s best to take it from Bucharest Gara de Nord, which has a direct link to Sighisoara. For more details on international routes (Vienna and Budapest would be recommended), check this website.
- by car: from Bucharest, you can take the E60 road taking you through the following stops: Bucharest – Ploiesti – Sinaia – Brasov – Rupea – Sighisoara. You can also take E60 from Budapest to Szolnok – Bors – Oradea – Cluj Napoca – Turda – Targu Mures – Sighisoara.
Make Yourself Comfortable
After you experience the citadel views, it’s time to lie down and take it all in.
A few options on where to do that in Sighisoara are:
- Korona Hotel – convenient location, open-air pool, overall professional services for ≈€52 a twin room
- Hotel Central Park – 4-star services in the city center, cozy and full of character, praised for its atmosphere and restaurant – ≈€62
- Lelila Inn – quiet location in the old town, this restored boarding house keeps a medieval and charming appearance. Everything for ≈€31.
Where to Grab Some Food from
In Sighisoara, it’s not necessarily about what you eat, but rather about what medieval-themed restaurant or bistro you like best.
In Sighisoara, even interior design breathes history, but you’ll also find a good range of diversity and convenient prices. Just a few recommendations:
- La Perla – great atmosphere and location – and substantial meals to match it.
- Georgius Krauss House – impeccable service inside the citadel, a great place to try out some Romanian cuisine at convenient prices.
- Casa Cositorarului – renowned for its authentic vibe, cozy setting and tasteful coffee/sweets. Ideal for an afternoon break and a tea.
- Casa Vlad Dracul Restaurant – impossible to omit from this list. This is a house which has seen history being made. The restaurant located inside is understandably pricier than average.
Apart from the eating points on the list, you’ll discover plenty of other places inside the citadel – we’ll leave this to you. In Sighisoara, you can also taste some fast food or homemade ice cream. Make sure you pay attention to street vendors providing the local kürtóskalács – the cylindrical sweet dough of Hungarian origin. It’s simpler yet tastier than doughnuts.
Sighisoara and More – A Look into Its Transylvanian Surroundings
Sighisoara is the most touristically-appealing site in Transylvania, but it is not the only one where you can find hidden treasures or have a surprising experience.
A place full of character and harmony, Transylvania is also land to several UNESCO sites in Romania.
Out of these, you can start with Sighisoara and then visit:
- the villages with fortified churches – Viscri, Biertan, Sadschiz or Prejmer – are all in the vicinity of Sighisoara.
- the Dacian fortresses of the Orastie Mountains
- the wooden churches of Maramures
You can round up the cultural experience by taking the time to visit Brasov and Sibiu as well.
Transylvania doesn’t lack natural wonders to peer at, since it has been a resourceful land for the inhabitants for centuries. We’re mainly talking about the salt mines in the region.
Out of these, Salina Praid (resembling an underground city) and Salina Turda are both spectacular and close to Sighisoara.
The latter has been featured by CNN and praised for its ‘extraterrestrial’ views.
Here’s a sneak peek:
All things considered, we hope this Sighisoara city guide has given you a better idea on the specific of this place: enclosed within a medieval atmosphere, yet full of resources to delight modern wanderer spirits.
That said, you can always count on us to offer advantageous tours to get to Sighisoara. Our pick is this Medieval City of Sighisoara 2-day tour.
You could opt to go only for this one, or you can choose to use it as a starting point to exploring more of Transylvania.
In this case, make sure you drop us a call or visit our site to get a personalized offer.
You can also use the comments section to ask for details or offer an account of your Sighisoara experience.
We’d very much like to hear your part of the story.