Located in Central Romania, Sibiu was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built in the 12th century by the German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons. Also known as “The City with Eyes” because of the iconic houses with eyes. Like Brasov, it has a distinctive Germanic feeling.
Sibiu is a pedestrian-friendly city with two levels: the Upper town, houses the most of the historic sites, and the Lower town, lined with colourful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defence towers overlooking the river Cibin.The historical center includes the Great Square, Huet Square, the Passage of Steps connecting the upper town to the lower town, the Bridge of Lies, Goldsmiths Square and Small Square. In 2007, Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture.
Sibiu and its surroundings are to most visited areas in Romania, with 12 institutions housing art collections, paintings and exhibits in decorative arts, archeology, anthropology, history, industrial archeology and history of technology and natural sciences.
The city is at close distance from the Fagaras Mountains - a popular trekking destination, Paltinis and Arena Platos ski resorts and is at the heart of the former Saxon communities in Transylvania renowned for its fortified churches.
Since 2007, a traditional Christmas market is being held in Sibiu. Inspired by Viennese Christmas markets, in 2013 was included in the “15 of the Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe “.
In 2019 Sibiu was named “European Region of Gastronomy” promoting local producers, peasant farms and traditional gourmet workshops.
Sibiu’s Towers - the original fortifications included 39 defensive towers, five bulwarks, four gates and five artillery batteries.Three 15th century towers have withstood the test of time: Harquebusier’s Tower, Carpenter’s Tower and Potter’s Tower.The 16th century Great Tower was the site of Sibiu’s first theatrical performance, staged in 1778.
The Upper Town - is organised around three city squares and a set of streets along the line of the hill.
The Great Square is the site of the Romano-Catholic Church and the Brukenthal Palace. Located in the heart of the walled city, the square was designated an architectural monument by UNESCO and features some of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu.
The Romano-Catholic Church is a beautiful Baroque structure with classical decorations built between 1726 and 1738.
Council Tower - built in the 13th century, was used as an entrance gate to the second row of fortified walls built around Sibiu.On the top floor, an observation deck allows a magnificent view of the historic town and the Fagaras Mountains.
Brukental Museum - built between 1778-1785 in a refined late- Baroque style, is the oldest and one of the finest art museums in Romania.
The Little Square - as the name implies, is a smaller square situated in the northern part in the Upper Town.The square is connected to the other two squares and to other streets by small passages.The main access from the Lower City is through Ocnei Street, which divides the street in two. The street passes under the Bridge of Lies - the first iron cast bridge in Romania, sustained by four arches decorated in Neo-Gothic style.
Huet Square - is home to a mix of Gothic buildings dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral built in 1520. Here you can find the city’s only full German school, the Samuel Von Brukenthal Gymnasium.
The Lower Town - comprises the area between the river and the hill, and is developed around the earliest fortifications.The streets are long and wide for the medieval city standards, with small squares at places. The architecture is rather rustic: typically two-storey buildings with tall roofs and gates opening passages to inner courts.
The Stairs Passage - the 13th century masterpiece, with twin staircases and archways, connects the Upper Town to the Lower Town.At one of the end of the passage stands the city’s oldest building which now hosts the oldest restaurant in Romania,The Golden Barrel.
The Goldsmiths Square - a peacemaker and intimate square, surrounded by charming old houses with medieval windows, doorways and turrets.
Haller Bastion - located in the north end of the Onofreiu Square, the bastion is named after Sibiu’s 16th century mayor, Petrus Haller, who had the red-brick tower built in 1551.
Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral - constructed between 1902-1906, the interior is dominated by a massive gold chandelier and features Neo-Byzantine decorations.
Ursuline Monastery - built in 1474, home to a Dominican Monastery until 1543 when Lutherans took over.It became Ursuline Monastery in 1755.The Ursulines changed the Gothic interior to Baroque style. Outside the building style still features many of its initial Gothic details.
Biserica din Groapa(Church on the Gorge) - built between 1788-1789
The Great Synagogue - built in 1899, boasts a Neo-Gothic facade.
Sibiu is home to Transylvania's finest art museum, the Bruckenthal Museum. Founded in 1790 by Samuel Brukenthal, the governor of the province, the museum opened to the public in 1817. It is the oldest museum in Romania and one of the first museums in Europe. The art collection includes paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Teniers, as well as works of German, Austrian and Romanian masters. Additionally, it features a 16th century silverware collection, painted glass icons and 350 rare books, many dating to the days of the first printing press.
ASTRA Open Air Museum
ASTRA is the second largest open-air museum in the world (250 acres)
Located in the middle of a dense forest and surrounded by a beautiful lake, ASTRA features more than 300 buildings as well as
watermills and windmills, gigantic presses for wine, fruit and oil, hydraulic forges and structures representing village architectural styles from many parts of Romania.
The museum illustrates the technological legacy of the Romanian people.
There is a wonderful collection of wooden farmhouses, a cherhana (a traditional collecting and storage point for fish) and sheepfolds, as well as a wooden church and two traditional inns. Guided tours are available. Another option is a visit by horse-drawn carriages (ladies, the driver will kiss your hand in greeting, an old Romanian custom).
The History Museum
This museum is housed in the Old City Hall (Primaria Veche), which dates to 1470 and boasts typical Transylvanian gothic civil architecture. Here, you can learn the history of the city and the region from Neolithic and Roman times to the present. In addition to rich collections from the Middle Ages and the baroque era, there is a fine silverware exhibit.
The Natural History Museum
One of the oldest and richest of its kind in Romania, this museum was founded by the Transylvanian Association of Natural Science (Siebenburgischer Verein für Naturwiessenschaften in German) in 1849. An astronomic observation centre also is located here.
Emil Sigerus Saxon Ethnographic Museum
Collections of painted furniture, costumes-textiles-embroideries and pottery, initiated by Emil Sigerus, the most important collector of Transylvanian Saxon Folk Art at the end of the 19th century.
The museum also includes the original collections of the Carpathians Transylvanian Museum or MSVKopened in 1895 by the Siebenbugishen Karpathenverein Association.
Museum of Hunting Weapons and Trophies
Founded in 1966, the museum features a collection of weapons, medals and stuffed animals. Some of the exhibits are over 100 years old, such as the hunting trophies brought after a long safari in Africa by Colonel Spiess, who was a Master of Hunting of the Royal House of Romania.
Franz Binder World Ethnographic Museum
The Franz Binder collections, housed in the "Hermes House" (initially called "The House of the Small Handicraftsmen's Association") built between 1865 and 1867, were established in the 19th century through donations and acquisitions from travelers and collectors. The permanent exhibition, "From the art and culture of the world – the people of the world," displays objects from various parts of the world, including northern Africa and the springs of the Nile, China, Japan, Oceania, Asia Minor, Brazil, Lapland and Australia.
Housed in a 16-th century building where the oldest pharmacy in Romania, La Ursul Negru (The Black Bear), operated for over 150 years, this museum showcases some 6,000 pieces of medical equipment from the 16th to the 19th centuries, coming from chemist's shops, medical institutions and individuals. It should be noted that Sibiu had more chemists than any other town in Transylvania. The collections of the museum cover the whole range of medical instruments, from surgical pouches, microscopes, different bowls made of wood, china, glass, bronze mortars, stands with balances and weights in the Viennese style to the oldest piece of the collection, a 1597 bronze mortar used for preparing medicines.
At the front, a reconstructed shop is decked out with wooden Viennese counters and stacks of glass jars creating the atmosphere of an 18-th century "apoteka" (German for "pharmacy").
The Steam Engine Museum
Opened in 1994, this museum displays 23 standard gauge steam engines, 10 narrow gauge steam engines, three snowplows and two steam cranes. The steam engines were built between 1885 and 1959 in Romania (the Resita Factory and the Malaxa Factory in Bucharest), Germany (Henschel, Borsig, Schwartzkopff) and USA (Baldwin). The museum is located opposite the main railway station.