During the 12th century, German craftsmen and merchants known as the Transylvanian Saxons were invited to Transylvania by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the frontier of his realm. The chronicler Krauss lists a Saxon settlement in present-day Sighisoara by 1191.
By 1337 Sighisoara had become a royal center for the kings, who awarded the settlement urban status in 1367 as the Civitas de Segusvar. The city played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighisoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it.
It is estimated that during the 16th and the 17th centuries Sighisoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches. The Baroque sculptor Elias Nicolai lived in the city. The Wallachian prince Vlad Dracul (father of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), who lived in exile in the town, let coins to be minted in the city (otherwise coinage was the monopoly of the Hungarian kings in the Kingdom of Hungary) and issued the first document listing the city’s Romanian name, Sighisoara.The Romanian name is first attested in 1435.
Central Sighisoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city, it has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year, a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July.
Tourist attractions Sighisoara
Sighisoara is a popular tourist destination, due to its well-preserved walled old town. The landmark of the city is the Clock Tower, a 64m high tower initally built in the 13th century as a Gate Tower. The Gate Tower was named the Clock Tower after 1604, when a clock with a wood mechanism was installed in it. In 1648 the blacksmiths of Sighisoara rebuilt that mechanism using metal components and improved it so that its hands also indicated the minutes.
Other interesting sights are:
– Sighisoara Citadel – a 12th Century Saxon edifice, is the historic
center of the city. Still inhabited, the citadel is listed as an UNESCO
World Heritage Site.
– Weapon Museum – next to Vlad’s birthplace. Small, but it contains an interesting selection of medieval weapons (swords, arrows, etc.).
– Covered Staircase – a very old stone staircase with a wooden roof along the whole span. This leads up to the Church on the Hill and the cemetery.
– Church on the Hill – contains many frescoes and a crypt. Built on the location of a Roman fort. Located on the side of the hill next to it is one of the Lutheran cemeteries in the city, which contains many tombstones of Germans.
– Catholic Church – was built in 1894 instead of the Locksmith\’s Tower and the Franciscan Monastery that were demolished to build it.
– The Tin Coaters Tower – a robust and at the same time strange building, combining a pentagonal drum over a rectangular platform, above which there are the ramparts forming an octagonal floor.