Sibiu is a city located in the heart of Transylvania, and it was founded by German settlers in the 12th century. It's one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Romania.
The first human settlements in the Sibiu area are dating from the Paleolithic period. The first mention of the town appears in a document issued in the twelfth century by Pope Celestine III. For Sibiu, the Medieval period meant economic development and the rise of merchant guilds.
Most of the city's fortifications were kept in excellent state. Therefore the process of becoming a UNESCO world heritage site began in 2004 for the Sibiu Old Town. In 2007 Sibiu was designated as a European Cultural Capital and in 2019 as a European Regions of Gastronomy.
One of the best landmarks in the city is the Brukenthal Palace (Brukenthal National Museum), home to a vast collection of rare pieces of art and books. The town was named the European Capital of Culture in 2007, and if you plan on visiting Romania, you should definitely be visiting Sibiu.
The old city of Sibiu consists of two distinct areas: The Upper Town and the Lower Town.
The Lower Town was built around the earliest fortifications. The streets are long and wide, with small squares at places. Most of the exterior fortifications were lost due to industrial development and modern urban planning, and only four towers still exist.
The Upper Town was built around three city squares and a set of streets along the line of the hill. The three city squares of the Upper Town of Sibiu are the Grand Square (Piața Mare - where the Christmas Market takes place every year), the Lesser Square (Piața Mică - where the Bridge of lies is found) and the Huet Square (where Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral is located).
If you've got the time to visit the surroundings, there are quite a few trips from Sibiu you could take.
ASTRA Museum: The visitors may explore the nearby villages, with well preserved medieval German fortresses. Also, the breathtaking landscape. You can explore the places where the mountains touch the skies, and the air is so fresh that nearly hurts those used with the everyday pollution of the modern cities. The ASTRA open-air museum is the largest open-air ethnography exhibit in Europe and is aiming to salvage, conserve, and showcase the traditional folk culture, making it the perfect destination for a day trip from Sibiu.
BIERTAN: The Lutheran Fortified Church is a UNESCO world heritage site, founded by the Transylvanian Saxons (it originally belonged to the Catholic Church before the Reformation);
CISNADIE (Heltau): a Saxon market town with an attractive elongated town square dominated by a massive fortress church;
CISNADIOARA (Michelsberg): one of the prettiest villages in Romania. This small Saxon settlement has a steeply sloping square and is clustered around a steep, wooded hill topped by a small, Romanesque church. Local tradition states that any man wishing to marry a girl from the village had to prove his strength by carrying a massive rock from the river bed to the top the hill. There is also a museum here dedicated to the Saxon Transylvanians.
RASINARI: a pretty, shepherds village in the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains, reached by a curious roadside tram running through the Dumbrava Forest.
CRISTIAN (Grossau): picturesque Saxon village to the west of Sibiu, with an impressive fortress church overlooking the river.
SIBIEL: traditional Romanian shepherds village in the Cindrel foothills, known for its beliefs in witchcraft and an excellent museum of icons painted on glass.
SALISTE and TILISCA: traditional agricultural settlements known for their costumes and folk songs.
OCNA SIBIULUI (SALZBURG): small spa town offering salt baths and treatments, set amidst old salt workings, There is a lovely fin de siecle spa building which has been carefully restored for Sibiu 2007, and Saxon fortified church.
AVRIG: former Bruckenthal Palace/ manor with an interesting secret landscape garden