Romania - Mountains, Monasteries and Medieval Cities
The best preserved inhabited medieval citadel in Europe
Biertan we returned to the main road for the short drive to Sighisoara.
This is still a major hop growing area, a relic of the large communal
farms from Communist times. A few years ago there had been plans to turn
this into a massive Dracula Theme Park but this was eventually
cancelled after huge public outcry.
Sighisoara is a World heritage Site and the best preserved and still inhabited citadel in Romania. After lunch in the house where Dracula is alleged to have been born (it is impossible to avoid Dracula), we had a short guided walk around Sighisoara.
The old town built on the top of hill is surrounded by defensive walls and towers. it is surrounded by the modern lower town which is the main shopping area with public parks.
The town founded in the C12th when the King of Hungary invited German craftsmen and merchants to settle in Transylvania and to protect it from attack by Turks and Tatars. It was surrounded by a defensive wall with fourteen towers. Now only 9 remain. Each of the guilds was responsible for the financing and upkeep of a tower as well as defending it if attacked
Dating from the C16th, the Bootmakers' Tower was a key point of defence from the northern end. Just south, the Tailors' Tower was built to guard over the back entrance to the citadel. As with many of the buildings here, the tower was engulfed in a massive fire in 1676 and rebuilt afterward. On the eastern edge of the citadel is the Blacksmiths' Tower, a pointy-roofed watchtower dating to 1631. The southerly Tinsmiths' Tower is one of the most easily recognisable in the citadel, with its octagonal upper level. A siege in 1704 left scars in the building that are visible to this day.
The main entrance to the citadel is through the C14th Clock Tower. This was the Council headquarters of the city council and used to protect the munitions and the city treasury. Its upkeep was the responsibility of the council. The top two floors and the balcony were added in the C17th after the tower was damaged by a fire. The four small turrets at the corner of the tower signified the autonomy of the council and its right to sentence criminals to death. The colourful roof tiles were added in the C19th.
The clock dates from the C17th and has two faces; one facing the citadel and the other overlooking the lower town. On the citadel side is Peace holding an olive branch and a drummer who sounds the quarter hours by beating his drum. Above them are Justice, with a set of scales, and Law, wielding a sword. They are accompanied by an angels representing day and night. The face overlooking the Lower Town has seven figures, representing the seven pagan gods giving their names to the days of the week.
The clock tower now houses the Museum of History. This is a very old fashioned style of museum and there is no information in English. Photography permits are expensive. The first floor has a model of Sighisoara (possibly the most interesting exhibit in the museum) and artefacts from prehistory, roman and Iron Ages. The second floor has example of painted cupboards and chests and a pharmacy display. The top floor has a display about the different guilds. Stairs go up past the clock mechanism with close up views of the days of the week. There are excellent views from the balcony and these make the climb worthwhile.
The citadel is based around a small square which is always busy.
The birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the real Dracula is on the square and is now a restaurant. You can pay a small fee to see the room where Dracula was allegedly born, although the house is thought to be later than that. The C15th Church of the Dominican Monastery is also on the square.
The upper town is a network of cobbled streets and narrow alleyways.
At the top of the citadel is the Church on the Hill with its cemetery next to it. The other large building by it is a school built at the end of the C18th.
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