The historic walled town of Sighișoara is a popular tourist destination in Transylvania. It was founded by German settlers in the late 12th century as Schäßburg and built over an ancient Roman fort. This UNESCO World Heritage site is also known as the birthplace of Vlad Ţepeș (Vlad the Impaler), otherwise known as Dracula. It’s one of the last inhabited Medieval fortified citadels in Europe and also the best-preserved, with nine remaining towers. The town has a significant Hungarian population who know it as Segesvár.
The Medieval Weapons Collection is housed in the most disappointing attraction in town, the Casa Dracul. This house, which has been renovated several times, was where Vlad Țepeș, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was born in 1431. The family only lived there until 1435. It now serves as a touristy restaurant. I popped in to find a bust of Dracula and an interesting mural.
Across the square from Casa Dracul is the Biserica Mănăstirii Dominicane (Monastery Church). It was originally built in the 13th century by Dominican monks as part of a huge monastery complex, of which only the church now remains.
The church was taken over by the Evangelical residents when the Dominicans were forced to leave and became the main Lutheran church of the town’s Transylvanian Saxons in 1556. It has a very beautiful interior with some impressive works of art.
On the grounds of the former monastery sit the Sighișoara Town Hall, which was built in 1888.
Between the church and City Hall is a bust of Vlad Ţepeș. The real Dracula wasn’t a blood-sucking vampire. Rather, he was a prince of Wallachia who lived from 1431-1476. A hero in Romanian history, he treated his enemies brutally. He was known for impaling captured Ottoman soldiers and leaving their corpses rotting as psychological warfare to deter future invaders. He was said to have impaled between 40,000-100,000 people, gaining him the nickname Vlad the Impaler.
Piața Cetății (Citadel Square) is the charming main square of Sighișoara. It’s now surrounded by colorful shops and outdoor cafés and restaurants, but it was once the place where markets and public executions were held.
One interesting building on the square is Casa cu Cerb (Stag House), which has a stag’s head protruding from the upper floor. Repairs on the building revealed a mural of the stag’s body that was painted on the side. I had a decent lunch at Casa cu Cerb, sitting outside on Piața Cetății. It was a little expensive since it’s geared towards tourists, but I enjoyed the atmosphere and watching all the people walk by.
Downhill to the north of the square is a small Roman Catholic church, St. Joseph’s, built in 1895.
The lower town isn’t nearly as pretty as the walled citadel, but the setting on the Târnava Mare River is nice. Next to the river across the bridge is the beautiful Orthodox cathedral, the Holy Trinity Church. It was built in 1934. You’ll most likely walk past it on the way to the bus or train station.
Sighișoara is roughly two hours by train to Brașov. I did it on a very easy and relaxed day trip. It was about a 10 minute walk to the citadel where all the sights are within walking distance. There is almost no need for transportation to get around town.