The city of Sibiu is situated in the heart of the European cultural capital Romania. It was the capital when Romania joined the European Union. The most typical are roofs with windows that look like eyes, I loved them. It has a very interesting history, one I recommend you search for because it is worth it.
It is very nice, I was eating at a restaurant in June of the year 2007 and loved it. You could see some acting and darma as it was Europe's cultural capital at the time, and that surprised me, it seems more a German city that Romanian named Hammerstad German or something, and it seemed that at any alley you would see a chariot pulled by horses. I later went up to the evangelical church tower, what a climb.
Poiana Sibiului is a mountain village, and the road up to the top is gorgeous and you admire amazing views. You can go up to Poiana from Jina or from Rod, depending on which side you are coming from, or you'll have a dirt or asphalt road. When it rains it can be quite tricky to drive but apart from that the road is well maintained. We find many people on the road, who travel on foot or horseback to the next town, a man even took us along with him and his daughter. He gave us apples from his house, and summer fruits that he had bought in the great city of Sibiu, and apparently they were a real treat for this girl. You reach a point so high that dominate the valley, and it's amazing, you can see very far away if the visibility is good. There we didn´t see any public transport but I guess soon there will be.
The Evangelical Cathedral of St. Mary of Sibiu is behind the Piata Mica, Sibiu in the tiny square. You see from far away how high the bell tower is, over 74 meters, and it stands as a symbol of the city. The church was constructed in the year 1520 in the place of a former 12th century Romanesque basilica. What we see now is the 19th century renovation. The interior of the church is Gothic, with arches and a stone funeral that is interesting. The rest of the interior is contemporary, but the interesting thing is that you can climb to the bell tower to see the medieval city. The tower has 7 lower turrets, and is the highest in all of Transylvania. The city of Sibiu was fortified with the church in the middle, showing its economic power and strength in front of invaders.
The Turnul Sfatului, or Council Tower, is an emblem of the city of Sibiu, perhaps its most famous monument. The tower was built in the thirteenth century, and was first mentioned in a written document in 1370. Its name relates to the building next door, which was the first city council. The tower was built for defensive purposes, and was integrated into the second city wall. It fell in the late sixteenth century, but was rebuilt. The top level was added in 1829. Over the centuries, it was used to store grain, and also as a jail. Today you can climb a small ladder to admire beautiful views of the medieval city centre.
The Corso is the main shopping street of Sibiu. You go out of the west side of the city to get to the main square, Piata Mare. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, every good family had to have its main house on the Corso. Evenings and weekends are to walk, to see and be seen, in peoples best clothes and makeup. Now the streets are still lively and the old houses have been renovated and painted in cheerful colors, and the lower floors are for the most prestigious stores in the city. You will find few places to eat on the Corsican, although the are shops to buy pieces of pizza and beverages. Prices are lower than in Spain, apart from the luxury shops and cosmetics for example, that are not worth it. Interesting place to visit and enjoy the area and the shops.
The Jesuit church of Sibiu is situated in the main square, Piata Mare. It is a very large building with a bell tower that dominates the square. There are two bell towers, both painted yellow. The one tower was a public tower where grain was stored and meetings were held. The church dates from the time when the Jesuits came to Sibiu and was built on the north side of the square. In the Middle Ages it housed the entire Sibiu Jesuit community. Except for times of mass, the beautiful church can be visited any time during the day. Like the altar piece some of the paintings are of great value.
The Gallery is installed in the ground floor of the house Artelor. The house is named home of Arts, and in these four or five rooms you can see samples of all the crafts of the region. Each craftsman comes with their objects, and the prices are indicated in every little thing, depending on its size and complexity. The price can not be negotiated, the house regulates this to avoid abuse and the craftsman receives a fair wage for their work. There are works painted in clay, ranging from small to large dishes and ashtrays and fruit bowls. They are decorated with simple and cheerful colors. Then others use glass to make small animals and art vessels. There is a section of frame for photos of people and landmarks of the region. A place with a lot of variety of things.
In the main square of Sibiu, Piata Mare, you will find some holes in the ground covered by a small, metal stopper, with a window to look through them. These are ancient grain silos. In medieval times, Sibiu was a fortified Saxon town. They spoke German, and the population had come from Germany to farm this great prairie. After harvest, grain was kept under the city; if the city was invaded, the residents would still have these hidden stores to keep them alive.
The Natural History Museum of Sibiu is located at the height of the medieval city wall. It is part of a collection of museums, founded by the governor of Austria, a lover of art and culture, in the nineteenth century. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 to 6, closed on Monday and the first Tuesday of each month. In winter it is closed on all Tuesdays. It was opened to the public in the mid-nineteenth century, thanks to the Society of Natural Sciences of Transylvania. Now, you have over a million objects, which are organised by theme. It is great for children, though there is little translated into English. There are reptiles, mammals, plants, birds ...
Old Sibiu, built in the Middle Ages by the Saxons ve came from Germany, is probably the city's biggest attraction. It is very beautiful and harmonious. The majority of the old downtown buildings were built by German businessmen ve were very rich and enjoyed many privileges granted to them by the king. As they were accepted to be installed in Sibiu and defend this territory, the king basically did not charge them any taxes, something which lasted for centuries! Sibiu Old houses reflected such wealth. Among the important buildings is the Council Tower, a triangular house built in the 14th century, the Dominican monastery built in 1474 which became the monastery of the Ursulines in 1728. What I liked in the old Sibiu was that since the city was European Capital of Culture 2007, they have put up explanations about the monuments everywhere, their importance in the history of the city, maps to orientate yourself better and arrows so you don't get lost at all.
La Strada Avram Iancu street is a part of society that lived in the upper part of Sibiu: There were the houses of Saxon businessmen who put their goods in the courtyards, which is charming to see. They push the heavy wooden door of the houses that seem at first glance austere, and take you to another world, poetic and calm, made with old cars that are rusty, tiny gardens, balconies, clothes drying .. In general, people let you in without any problem, these homes are no longer those of a family for a long time, separated into small apartments, but residents are still living in a semi community around the central courtyard from the Piata mara. At the bottom of the garden isa brick wall that is a remnant of the old defensive wall of the city. At number 16 is the triangular facade called Bobel house, which is from the 15th century.
Biertan's church was built between 1486 and 1524, on the site of the ruins of an old church. It has three naves of equal height, and was the last building of its kind to be built in Transylvania. The church is listed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO, along with other Saxon churches in Transylvania. It was built for the growing community in Biertan, after it was declared a city. German is still spoken in the village and the church is an evangelical church. It has late Gothic Revival elements. However, the expansion of the church was limited by the defensive walls around it. It is still one of the largest and most famous in the region. Admission is free but donations are appreciated from visitors, and it is closed during the hours of church services on Sunday mornings. The inside of the church has beautiful sculptures, paintings and furniture, which shows any visitor the town's wealth and that of its inhabitants.
When you go up the hill Cindel you will arrive in a strange place called Poiana Soarelui. It is a large open field, a pasture at the top of the hill where you can see lots of wooden statues. Soarelui Poiana name means sunny meadow, and everywhere you see the statues, which have different shapes, and look very old. It is a country road which you have to climb either on foot or by car. With a normal car it can be a little tricky especially if it is raining. Some of the sculptures depict characters, the others are not anything in particular, but they are still works of art. I think that they were made by the monks of the monastery of Foltea, located downstairs. It looks a bit like Easter Island, with statues coming out of nowhere!
Sibiel is next to Orlat, not far from the road leading from Sibiu to Sebes. The Orthodox Church is the largest in the village, and is dedicated to St. Treime. Even though it's small in size, it's a true gem. When the town was being developed in the 18th Century the chirch was built. The German Saxons had been in the region since the Middle Ages, but Sibiu and Sibiel began to grow later. Around the church is the village cemetery. Inside the garden of the old church house that you can see from here is the Sibiel museum of religious icons. In 1924, the site was declared a historic monument, and since then the frescoes on the walls have been restored, particularly in the 1960s.
The town of Orlat is about an hour away from Sibiu by car. It's on the main road from Sibiu to Sebes. Orlat is an ancient Saxon village which was created in the Middle Ages by a population which had come from Germany to defend the region, which was then in the Austrian Empire. Orlat has big houses which are very typical of those found in Saxon villages, where straw is stored during the winter. It is a tourist place where you can experience Saxon culture. You can visit its churches and monasteries and share the daily life of the Romanian Peasant. For example Orlat is beside the village with Foltea monastery, a world heritage site. Orlat has several self contained accommodations where you can stay and make dinner.
Saliste is a town located half an hour away from Sibiu. It is on the main road that goes to Sebes, but the most attractive part of the town is a little further on. It is a quiet agricultural town. The people of this region are descendants of German Saxons who settled in Sibiu around the middle ages. Until the last century, incredible tax priveleges were enjoyed which have helped the inhabitants to become the country's richest people. Saliste has a few nice churches, particularly Foltea monastery. It's a little hard to find, just outside of the city towards Sibiel. The monastery is a treasure of the UNESCO world heritage and is notable for its frescoes and beautiful images of saints.
Jina is a quiet village in the region of Sebes. It is singular because it is the highest village in Romania. It has a nice Romanian Catholic Church which has its exterior painted in frescos. There is also an Orthodox church which in fact is the most important one in the town, that was built on a hill overlooking the city. The people are very friendly in Jina, and this place does not see many tourists pass by, let alone foreigners, so they gave us their most beautiful smiles and every now and again people would try to talk to us. In fact we understood a lot as it is a Latin-based language. You can get a bus to Jina but it takes hours, since you go out. It is best to rent a car, possibly in good condition as most of the roads are not paved.