Welcome to the birthplace of the real Dracula, most commonly known as Vlad the Impaler. This atmospheric old city draws some travellers for it’s historic connections to the blood thirsty prince, but it has a lot more to offer than that. This well-preserved, Unesco listed hilltop city is a beguiling maze of winding, cobblestoned medieval streets and buildings inside it’s original fortifications. Old pastel coloured houses and towers abound around every corner, and there is even a church and graveyard that could be straight out of a horror film. History permeates the atmosphere here, and you can feel it as you wander the charming streets.
No trip to Transylvania would be complete without visiting this Gothic gem.
SIGHTS AND THINGS TO DO
The walls and towers of the Citadal
The original medieval walls and towers of Sighisoara Citadel remain, enclosing the old city within them. It’s impressive they have remained so well intact, and are what make this city so special. There are nine towers spread around the fortifications, with the most impressive of them being the clock tower. Each tower was maintained by a different guild, so they are all slightly different and have there own unique history. Exploring these ancient towers is a must on any trip here.
Walking beneath some sections of the walls is one of the best ways to get a feel for the city, especially in quieter areas where you can imagine what it was like here in mediaeval times. In some areas nature has almost reclaimed the fortifications too, giving it an interesting atmosphere.
Sighisoara Clock Tower
The impressive clock tower dominates the city, standing 34 metres tall and forming part of the main gateway into the citadel. It was originally built in the 14th century, though the higher parts of the tower were built in later centuries- with the top being completed in 1674.
The tower has a small museum showcasing the history of the city. You can also climb up the steep flights of stairs to enjoy the views from the top. The views from the top are superb, allowing you to see a 360 degree panorama of the charming old city. Just watch your head climbing up as this tower wasn’t designed for tall people!
The Church on the Hill
This Gothic masterpiece stands proud on the top of the hill at the centre of Sighisoara: the highest point in the city. The all white church was built from 1345 to 1525 (that is some construction period).
To reach the church you walk up steep steps inside a covered archway, or you can climb up the grassy slope of the hill. When I climbed up the steep slope there was sinister music playing inside the church, and the area was eerily quiet. When I reached the top and turned the corner I realised there was a large, very old graveyard. It really was like something from a horror film.
The inside of the church itself is beautiful and contains some splendid paintings. There is also a small crypt and dungeon. It’s a fascinating place that you have to explore while in the city.
Vlad Tepes House
The ancient house believed to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler is located in the square. While it’s debatable Vlad Dracul was actually born here, it’s a beautiful old house. Part of the building is now a restaurant, and unfortunately they have turned a couple of the rooms of the building into a cheap haunted house attraction, there is even a guy in a coffin dressed as Dracula! It’s tacky but still worth a look.
Underneath the clock tower inside the gatehouse is a small torture museum. Here you can see some of the diabolical contraptions used on unfortunate prisoners in the past. The rack looks particularly nasty. It makes me thankful we live in a more enlightened age. The museum is small but worth a look, especially for people who haven’t seen such devices before.
Walking in the woods
Sigshoara is surrounded by wonderful wooded hills, that really add to the relaxing ambiance of the place. There is a lot of wildlife in this region too, including wild boar, deer and wolves. I glimpsed a deer through the trees before it ran off.
I’d recommend spending at least a few hours exploring some of the ancient woodlands, just make sure you get back before nightfall…
I’ve always loved exploring medieval cities and buildings, so Sighosoara was high on my list of places to visit while in Romania. The city didn’t disappoint. I found the city to be a charming, tranquil place where history seems to seep from every stone. It was a relaxing place to stay, with lots of interesting attractions to discover. The city was quite quiet and didn’t have that many tourists when I was there, though this was in 2013 and the city is certainly more popular now.
Accommodation: There is a good selection of accommodation in Sighosara. Here are a few options to get you started.
Berg Hostel: This very central hostel is located in an atmospheric 17th century building, down a narrow cobblestoned street just off the main square. The dorm rooms are very clean with large beds, though there close together with no curtains. Probably the cheapest option in the old city.
Casa Lia: This guest house is located in the centre of the citadel, and has some of the best value private rooms. All rooms have TVs, so maybe you can put on a vampire film to add to the atmosphere (just don’t watch twilight please).
Casa Marcus: Another guest house in the old city. This place has large, rustic en-suite rooms with heating and TVs. Looks like a very charming place to stay.
Getting there and away
Train: The train station is a few hundred metres north of the river, just a five minute walk from the citadel. From here you can get trains to a handful of cities in Romania, including to Bucharest, Brasov and Cluj-Napoca. Trains are the best way to see the countryside, though the train from Cluj-Napoca was incredibly slow at times.
Bus: The bus station is close to the train station. Buses serve a lot more destinations than the trains, including smaller cities and towns in Transylvania.