Google “Places to visit in Transylvania” and Sighisoara will definitely pop up in the search results. Deservedly so, because as birthplace of the infamous Dracula (read more about him here (coming soon)), it has a significant spot in the overall history of the area. I went to Sighisoara with little to no background knowledge (shame on me), no expectations and an urge to seek out what the fuss about this place is all about.
Meteorologically speaking, it was a dreadful day. Temperatures weren’t high nor were they very low, but a constant drizzle and icy wind made the general atmosphere all but very pleasant. Combine that with five overly hungry travellers who just can’t find a parking spot anywhere (seriously, what is this) and you’re all set for a day where you wished you had just stayed in bed. Too bad the hostel kicked us out 😛 We found a nice little restaurant where we devoured a pizza (It deserves to be mentioned that there are a REMARKABLE amount of Italians in Romania) and dried ourselves up before we started walking on the slippery cobblestone road to reach the city center, on the slope of the hill.
Once there, the surroundings were fundamentally different from just five minutes prior. Concrete made for bricks, grey made for blue, yellow, orange and red and the busy streets turned empty and deserted. What made for this aesthetically perfect city to be so dead?
It struck us pretty fast. It was Monday. Shit.
Mondays in Romania pretty much stand for everything being closed, museums and restaurants alike. It was a shame, but we saw no other option to visit the city in our short 8-day trip. So we walked, walked and walked around the city in search for some life.
Instead, we found a big, roofed wooden staircase leading to the top of the hill. What could we find there? No idea. So we went.
More than 100 stairs later, we found a large, walled church with a big cemetery. This church was built on the site of a former Roman fort, which explains its semi-fortifications. Unfortunately, also this church was closed to the general public. The church itself was in a Gothic style and contained the only crypt in all of Transylvania. Next to it lay a massive Lutheran graveyard, where mostly Germans (who made up the majority of the city’s population until the Second World War) were buried.
After a little walk around the church, a few nice pictures of the view (city centers from above never fail to amaze me), we climbed back down and decided to just roam about the city for the next two hours before heading to Cluj-Napoca, where we would stay for two nights. Despite its emptiness, it was clear this town hosted many secrets and hidden beauties. Almost every house is a historic monument, birthplace to some composer, politician or artist. As the center was entirely renovated just a few years ago, the colours shone brightly even in the grim light of the bad weather. You could say what you wanted about the emptiness and how the town doesn’t live up to its potential even in off-season, but few towns give such a peaceful, clean yet historic feel.
Today I still dread how we couldn’t visit Sighisoara properly. The experience may not have been great (although we finished the visit with an outright MARVELLOUS hot chocolate), but it left a mark and I cannot wait to visit this town again, properly and with more background knowledge, in summer and not on a Monday 😉
Next up will be: Bran Castle, home of Dracula. Or is it?
Make sure to keep reading, new content will be posted once or twice a week 😉