Situated in the south-west of Transylvania, Sibiu along with Brasov, from the most representative as far as the historical remains and the natural landscape are concerned. The city of Sibiu is rightly considered as one of the most beautiful and well preserved historical cities of Transylvania and in Europe, with a national architectural heritage spread over 80,000 square km. The Medieval Fortress of Sibiu was as large as the Fortress in Vienna at certain times, and is the greatest medieval monument in Transylvania It consists of walls, fortifications and towers which remain intact after the two World Wars, still preserving the spirit and the atmosphere of the old days.
Some of these were so well preserved that you can easily imagine what the Fortress looked like 600 years ago. The wall on the left side is the best preserved, being the most fortified, against the attacks which came from this direction. The Turks and the Tartars frequently attacked Transylvania from Wallachia and Moldavia while these later two were under the rule of some princes serving the Ottoman Empire.
On the east side there are also three of the best preserved defensive towers:
- the Arquebusiers’ Tower built in the 14th century in an octagonal building
- the Carpenters’ Tower stone - built in the 15th century
- the Potters’ Tower built in the same century as the Carpenters’ Tower; square and was bound to the later one through a stone wall
- the Thick Tower built in the 16th century; and in 1778 the Second Theatre, replacing the First from 1769
Just like in any other medieval city there were places which monopolised the social or the economic life of the community. Such locations usually were the markets and the old ’Cibinium’ was no exception: there were two such markets, ’The Small Market’ and ’The Big Market’.
In the ’Small Market’ there were the artisan houses and workshops. The Market is connected to the ’Big Market’ by narrow tunnels and stone-paved narrow streets. The medieval buildings are still preserved in their original form. On the south side of the Market are situated the Catholic Church and the City Hall Tower and many small shops. On the east side there is a complex of buildings built in the Gothic style (now historical monuments) and near them there is the Pharmaceutical Museum (in a building where the first chemist`s shop in Transylvania was founded in 1568).
The ’Big Market’ stands at the historical centre of the city and it was first mentioned in 1411 as a market for cereals. Almost a century passed until it became the centre of the Fortress where meetings and public executions took place. It was then called ’Grosser Platz’ (the Big Market), but during the centuries it also had other names such as ’King Ferdinand Market’ (between the two World Wars) - a tribute to the king under whose rule the great 1918 Union occurred -, or ’the Republicii Market’. In 1990 it got back its original name. This market is the largest in Transylvania: 142 m. long and 93 m. wide, its south side being a UNESCO - protected monument due to its unique architectural style.
There are many important buildings here which belonged to the notable city citizens such as:
- the Heller House built in the 15th-16th centuries which preserves some of the original elements (the Hellers’ coat of arms - the family lived here for about 345 years)
- Fileck’s House which is one of the oldest buildings in the city
- The former mayor Georg Hecht’s House in the 15th century which housed the German University (a sort of Parliament for the Transylvanian Saxons) beginning in 1821
- The first City Hall, near the Roman-Catholic Vicarage
- Weidner Reussner House which preserves the original portal in the Gothic style from 1652
- The Bank built in 1905 in the Art Nouveau style, the Blue House where theatrical plays were performed and the impressive Brukenthal Palace make a beautiful whole architectural complex