The European Capital of Culture in 2007, Sibiu is the first city Romanians would recommend to foreign travelers. It is an average sized but impressive city placed close to the Transylvanian Alps and was founded 8 centuries ago by German settlers and was for centuries the capital of the Saxon lands; at the beginning of the century, the German community in Transylvania numbered hundreds of thousands, and Sibiu functioned as a hub for their community. Starting from the 1950s, most of the city's ethnic Germans emigrated to Germany; among the roughly 2,000 who have remained is Klaus Johannis, who is currently mayor of Sibiu City.
The entire old city center is about to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The citadel used to be the strongest in this part of Europe; you can still see some of its walls and towers. Visit the "Big Square", city's heart for centuries, the "Little Square" and "Huet Square". The city of Sibiu was one of the most important fortified cities in Southeastern Europe. All structures are connected via a labyrinth of tunnels and passageways, designed to ensure transport between the city and lines of defense.
Sibiu is a city of first times: 1292 - The first hospital in the Kingdom of Hungary, present-day Romania was opened. 1544 - The first book in the Romanian language was printed in Sibiu. 1788 - First theatre in Transylvania, present-day Romania. 1797 - Samuel Hahnemann opened the world's first homeopathic laboratory. 1817 - The Brukenthal Museum, the first museum in Transylvania, present-day Romania, was opened. 1896 - The first use of electricity in the Austria-Hungary, present-day Romania, and the first power line in Southeastern Europe. 1904 - The second city in Europe to use an electric-powered trolley. 1928 - The first zoo in Romania.
2007 - The first Romanian city to become European Capital of Culture. Sibiu airport has several low-cost routes connecting to London, Brussels, Madrid, Roma, Milan, Stuttgart & Cologne; you can fly directly here instead of Bucharest and explore Romania from a different angle.
Places to visit in Sibiu, Romania
PARKS AND GARDENS Cisnadioara
...it is not quite a park but a village that became a neighborhood of Sibiu, probably the most picturesque one. Cisnadioara is a good place to stay for a few days and explore the forests surrounding the village. It is a charming Saxon village at the foot of a wooded hill, with a 12th century fortified church built on top of it. Some of the city' festivals also use Cisnadioara as a second scene; if it happens while you're around, don't miss it. Also, every Sunday from June to August, there are classical music concerts in the Evangelical church, using the oldest functional pipe organ in Romania.LANDMARKS The Old Town
...is perhaps Sibiu's main attraction, and it is indeed very beautiful. Most of the buildings in the old town were built by German settlers and merchants who came to Sibiu in the late Middle Ages. Today, the buildings remain in very good conditions, and the streets are peppered with small, secluded lanes, corner cafes and wonderful churches. The old town is divided into two parts: the Upper Town, which contains most of the city's historic sights, and the Lower Town, which is home to many charming buildings and cobbled squares.The Citadel of Sibiu
...in the Middle Ages, it was one of the best fortified in Europe and remained very well preserved. The towers and bastions of the area are well worth a visit, but most of all, make sure you visit the wonderfully charming Stairs Passage, which connects the lower part of the citadel with the upper part. If you want to splurge, dine at the Golden Barrel (Butoiul de Aur), the oldest restaurant in Romania, which sits at the end of the Stairs Passage.Grand Square
...Romanian "Piata Mare" is, as its name suggests, the largest square of the city, and has been the center of the city since the 16th century. 142 m long and 93 m wide, it is one of the largest ones in Transylvania.Huet Square
...is home to a jumble of Gothic buildings and is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Sibiu. Here, you can also find the city's only fully-German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which shows the city's proud German heritage.The Lutheran Cathedral
...is the most famous landmark of Sibiu. Finalized in 1520, it is 73 m tall and hosts the largest pipe organ in South-Eastern Europe. The Orthodox Cathedral
...finalized in 1906, was built in Byzantine style, inspired by Hagia Sophia. The exterior has red and yellow brick finishing, that gives it a unique look. It is 53m long 25m wide and 43m high.MUSEUMS Brukenthal
If Van Eyck, Veronese or Bruegel sound familiar, visit Brukenthal. There's an unexpectedly valuable collection - second only to the National Art Museum in Bucharest - here. Art is only one out of the six subjects covered by this institution; if you're interested in the alternative medicine, you'll be surprized to find out that Homeopathic Medicine was invented in Sibiu by a German scientist who lived in one of Brukenthal buildings, now The Museum of Pharmacology.Astra Museum
...Visit Europe's largest open-air museum (1 sq km, over 300 buildings), the Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, that brings together hundreds of traditional houses and buildings from all around the country; drop by for a preview of Romanian rural life. Not only does it have interesting and very picturesque exhibits but it also lies in a very beautiful area with a nice view of the mountains. The museum is located about 3 kilometers south of Sibiu, reachable by bus or tram. In August Astra organizes a festival where you can enjoy folk dances, crafts and traditional dishes. Part of Astra Museum is also hosting Sibiu Universal Ethnography Museum, the Museum of Transylvanian Civilisation and the Museum of Saxon Ethnography and Folk Art.ARCHITECTURE
Start from the Grand Square and start exploring. You don't need a plan and don't need a map. Just let yourself led by colors and sounds, hidden streets and colorful houses and enjoy the most beautiful piece of architectural visual delight in Romania.EDUCATION
Sibiu is an important center of higher education, with over 34,000 undergraduate students in 2007. Lucian Blaga University is the most important one.
Sibiu has 3 theaters and a Philharmonic orchestra.
...every week in the Evangelical Cathedral built 1520, listen how the biggest organ in SE Europe (over 6.000 pipes) sounds like.
The International Theater Festival
...happens in May and brings together theater companies from Europe, as well as workshops and conferences.
Sibiu Jazz Festival
...happens in May; a part of the festival is the competition. Some of the concerts are outdoor.
Transylvania International Film Festival
...the most famous Film Festival in Romania comes from Cluj, its home city. Since 2007 it is also organized in Sibiu.
Artmania Rock Festival
...happens in July and it is dedicated to the dark side of rock. Last year's line-up included Nightwish.
The Folk Traditions Festival
...in August it is time to get in touch with the Romanian world of traditional dances, crafts and music.
The Medieval Transylvanian Festival
...go back in time and enjoy Sibiu as it once was. Every year in August.
International Opera Festival
...be here in September for amazing performances: opera, ballet, concerts.
The Pottery Fair
...craftsmen from all the traditional Romanian regions will be here. If you want to buy local crafts at excellent prices, this is the place and September is the time.
Astra Documentary Film Festival
...in October come to Sibiu to enjoy one of the most important film festivals focused on documentaries in Eastern Europe.
Jazz & More International Festival
...in October you can enjoy the 2nd Jazz festival that happens in Sibiu. It take place at Gong Theatre in Sibiu.