Sighisoara fortress – The only inhabited medieval fortress in Europe

Somewhere in the middle of Romania, you will find a city unlike any other. German colonists were brought here in the 12th century in order to defend the empire’s Eastern borders. The city was first mentioned in a document much later, in 1280.

Currently, Sighisoara is the only inhabited medieval fortress in South-East Europe. It is also part of the UNESCO world heritage sites since 1999. Once the visitors step through the gates of the Sighisoara fortress, they are carried back in time as they wander through the narrow winding cobbled lanes. They can listen to the calls of the town crier, who to this day announces the town’s events, accompanied by his drum.

Sighisoara fortress

 

Throughout time, the Sighisoara fortress has seen many tragic moments: the Mongol invasion, rebellions, fires, witch trials, and executions. Tradition called for each corporation of craftsmen to erect a defense tower. Out of the 14 towers built originally, nine survived to this day. The most famous of them, the Clock Tower, was used in the past as a holding cell for prisoners sentenced to death. In modern times it was transformed into a museum, hosting a collection of weapons and military equipment, as well as a torture chamber. Each summer, the Mediaeval Festival brings back to life the city’s fairytale past. Its streets are then filled with troubadours and acrobats, kings and queens, knights and princesses, witches and inquisitors.

Sighisoara fortress sights:

Vlad Tepes House: The house believed to represent the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (surnamed Dracula) can be found in the Citadel Square. Today, it stands as a museum and restaurant. A gloomy iron sign in the shape of a dragon, the symbol of “Dracula”, marks the entrance of the house. A bust of Vlad Tepes can be found nearby.

Towers and other Fortifications: The Sighisoara fortress remains largely intact, with nine out of the original 14 towers still standing. Each tower was erected by one of the guilds of the city and it is from these guilds that the towers get their names. For example, the Blacksmith’s Tower, the Butcher’s Tower, and the Tanner’s Tower can be visited. But among all the emblematic Clock Tower is the most impressive and the most picturesque.

Covered Staircase and the Church on the Hill: A set of covered wooden stairs, numbering 175 steps, leads to the Church on the Hill, or the Church of St. Nicholas, a Gothic church which showcases fragments of frescos.

Museums: For sure the most popular museum in Sighisoara fortress is the Weapon’s Museum, which occupies a part of the Vlad the Impaler’s house. Also, the city hosts a history museum (a part of the Clock Tower) and a torture museum is hidden under the Clock Tower.

Churches: Besides the Church on the Hill, other churches of note include the Church St. Mary of the Dominican Monastery, the Lepers’ Church with its exterior pulpit, and two Orthodox halls of worship.