Sibiu was the most important town for Transylvanian Saxons who settled in the area. Settled in the 1191 at the site of the ancient Roman town of Cibinium, it served as their capital and cultural center. It was known as Hermannstadt in German and Nagyszeben in Hungarian. It isn’t as beautiful as Brașov or Sighișoara but it’s still attractive, important, and well worth a visit. This entry covers sights in Sibiu outside of the main square, Piaţa Mare.
Strada Nicolae Bălcescu, the most important pedestrian street in Sibiu, is connected to Piaţa Mare. It was paved with stone in 1762 and is lined with shops and outdoor cafés.
Piaţa Mică, the smaller square, has a few important buildings of its own. The Butcher’s Hall (1370) is now the Emil Sigerus Museum of Saxon Ethnography & Folk Art. The Hermes House (1867) serves as the Franz Binder Museum of Universal Ethnography.
The Liar’s Bridge passes over a street leading to the Lower Town. It was the first bridge in Romania made of iron and was erected in 1859. The Luxemburg House sits next to the bridge.
The Altemberger House is just northwest of Piaţa Mare. It was built by Thomas Altenberger, Sibiu’s mayor from 1470 to 1491. It was transformed into city hall in 1545 and served as such until 1948. A tower in the house was once used as a residence. The home now serves as the History Museum. During my visit, a very enthusiastic man guided me through the museum and answered many of my questions.
On the small Piața Albert Huet sits the old Brukenthal High School, the oldest German high school in Romania, and the Evangelical Cathedral of St. Mary. The church was built between 1322 and 1525. The tomb of Mihnea Vodă cel Rău, son of Vlad Țepeș (the inspiration for Dracula), is in the church. He was murdered in front of the church in 1510. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation during my visit.
The Apprentice House is also on Piața Huet. Once part of the defensive walls the city, it now serves to protect the crafts of the 19 guilds that have been established in Sibiu since Medieval times. The Apprentices’ Pillar sits outside. Traditionally, apprentices would attach a tool from their trade to the post.
A stairway from a small tower near the church leads to the Lower Town, but it’s much more interesting to take the picturesque 14th century Passage of the Stairs. It heads down along the fortifications and under support arches from the Upper Town to the Lower Town.
The Lower Town is an interesting place to walk with simple colorful buildings and lots of outdoor restaurants and cafés.
Some other religious buildings of note are located in the historic city center. A few blocks west of Piaţa Mare is the Holy Trinity Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. It was built in 1906 and modeled after Hagia Sophia. It’s the second largest Orthodox cathedral in Romania.
East of Piaţa Mare are the Ursuline Church, built between 1474 and 1733 as part of a Dominican monastery, and a defunct synagogue built in 1899. You can easily see both of them walking into town from the bus or train stations.
I visited Sibiu on a day trip from Brașov. To get there, I took a slow train ride that lasted about 3 ½ hours there and the normal train back, which took 2 ½ hours. The train station is a short walk from the historic city of Sibiu. The bus terminal is near the train station. The major points of interest in Sibiu are all within a compact area and easy to walk.