The old central sections of Romanian cities deliver fine eye candy as well as the typical European pleasures of outdoor tables in busy plazas or narrow streets. In that regard, we found these four Transylvanian cities in the middle of the country – Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca – so appealing. Each of these towns was settled by Saxons (actually, people from western Germany and Luxembourg) who dominated the area for hundreds of years until Hungarian control. Enjoy them with us!
– Cathedral Square, Cluj-Napoca, home of a brooding, but not particularly interesting, Gothic church, as well as a modern tribute to the area’s renowned King Matthias.
– The square’s architecture is its most picturesque, historically interesting feature…as is the rest of its old town.
– The fortified city of Sighisoara from below…
The panorama is dominated by the Clock Tower, whose medieval clock still tells time with various figures representing days of the week, etc.
– Sighisoara as seen from our apartment deck, gleaming during the day and lit up at night. From left to right, the main church perches on the highest hill. Then, one of dozens of towers built and staffed by the guilds (weavers, leather workers, metal workers, etc.) peeks out. To the right, rises the striking clock tower and finally the town hall.
– The central square of Brasov. The town hall dates from the 15th century, though spruced up in the 18th. All day and night this square buzzes with Brasov residents – families, couples, old friends – and a host of tourists. For them, it is a valued meeting place as well as a spot to sit around the fountain, walk the old town, enjoy a drink or meal together, gobble up ice cream and pastries – or marvel at the foreigners in town.
– Here, we literally hang out over the colorful old town of Brasov, atop Mt. Tampa. The fortified city was the imperial center of Transylvania; its old boundaries are very obvious from up here. Above Barry’s head, you can notice the large open space of the main square, which we show up close in the next photo. A few steps away from the spot on which we stand, the city has placed a massive set of letters (Hollywood style) announcing its name.
– Sibiu, an endlessly charming medieval and baroque old town, from atop the Santa Maria Protestant cathedral.
– In Sibiu, you cross a natural cleft dividing the large plaza from a smaller one over the Bridge of Lies. In 1859, this elegant wrought iron bridge replaced the old wooden bridge which connected the squares. And is that a winking eye on the building behind?
Pick your medieval legend on the name. In one the wooden bridge would sway and creek, perhaps even collapse, if you told a lie while standing on it. In another, cheating merchants from the nearby market would be tossed over the side. In a third legend, the bridge hosted young couples planning their marriage, in part for the woman – unfairly, not the man – to affirm her virginity. If she lied, she could be tossed over the side. Today’s pledges are sealed by padlocks of love affixed to the metal, though in the past many such pledges proved to be unfulfilled as well.
Or would you prefer a linguistic option? Flat across on its support pillars, the structure was considered to be “lying,” a linguistic confusion in the original German similar to that in English.
(Also, for more pictures from Romania, CLICK HERE to view the slideshow at the end of the itinerary page.)