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Monday, September 22, 2014

Sighisoara, Romania: Anatolian Carpets, Towers & Blue Skies

Sighisoara has the only medieval citadel in Europe that is fully inhabited. Known as the ‘Pearl of Transylvania’ since the last century, documents mention the town for the first time in 1280 under the name of Castrum Sex; Vlad Dracul used the Romanian name, ‘Saghisore,’ for the 1st time in a letter written in 1431. It’s well known on the tourist circuit as being the birthplace of Vlad Terpes, commonly known as Dracula! If you ever want anything Dracula themed, this is the town to visit.

The town of 36,000 people was the European Cultural Capital in 2012.
We met Stella while waiting for the bus in Targu Mures for Sighisoara and ended up sitting beside her and chatting with her the whole bus ride. She's in med school in TM, her parents are Hungarian and she used to compete in dance competitions all over Romania and a number of other European countries; she speaks at least 4 languages now, is learning Turkish since her goal is to learn a new language every 5 years. To relax in her 'free time' she plays the piano. What a renaissance woman! I hope our paths will cross again if she ever makes it to the States as our doors are open to her.
Atop the stairs at Pension Citadela. Thank goodness we don't have steps like this at home; the wonderful owner, Simina, and her staff are all thin, due, in part, to walking up and down these steps countless times a day.

Nice having our own room with a bathroom too - what luxury. We had booked the room overlooking the Clock Tower but didn't end up getting it unfortunately. I peeked in it later and it had breathtaking views and a large balcony that would have been great to sit and read OR post on the blog of course!

Lovely breakfasts were included in the price at Pension Citadela.

Went through this lovely passageway many times while in town as it was only 3 minutes from our pension. The Clock Tower, below, is a symbol of the town and was built in several steps starting in the 14th C. It served as the Town Hall until 1575.


Steven's walking to the house where Vlad Dracula was born on the square variously named Fortress or Citadel Square. The Clock Tower is one of the entrances to the square.
Hope you didn't really want a picture of Dracula's room because neither of us wanted to go in!
This narrow street leads to the main square.

The very simple exterior of the square's Monastery Church, erected in 1289, belies the stunning  interior with its Turkish rugs. The church is currently used by the evangelical community of Saxons.

The Anatolian carpets date from the 16th and 17th centuries and were donations made by the Saxon guilds and weaver traders in thanks to God for safe travel.

Just a little strange seeing the bust of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula, outside the church. The name 'Dracul' is linked to his membership in the order of  the Dragon Order, a military order created in
 Luxembourg for defending Christianity.

Below, another city, another wedding, also in the square!

I popped into the lovely shop where this young woman was working; I ended up chatting with her as I bought some souvenirs, asking about her engagement ring. She said she and boyfriend of 4 years (whom I hadn't seen in the shop til then) were getting amrried when she graduates from university. I wished them a long and happy life together.

Away from the square, wandering through the historic center: Loved the stairway in the Roman Catholic Church which was built in 1894 on top of the ruins of the former Franciscan Monastery.
Just a pretty street!
City Hallbuilt in 1887, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The Baroque hall on the main floor hosts a music festival and many other concerts.

Sighisoara has a total of 9 towers including the Clock or Gate Tower seen earlier. Steven is pictured in the Tinsmiths' Tower.

On the Wooden or Pupils' Staircase which was built in 1642 in order to ease students' access to the school above. Originally it had 300 steps but, as of 1849, that was reduced to only 175 steps. We saw high schoolers virtually running down the steps; not something we wanted to do because the stone landings were uneven to walk on for us older folks.

As we neared the top of the steps, we heard a man playing his guitar. Then saw the groom, we'd seen earlier in the square, borrow the guitar so he could serenade (actually fake playing but who cares) his bride for the waiting photographer. Cute or what!

The School on the Hill, built in 1607, is now a high school.
The Church on the Hill, built ontop of a chapel's walls in the 1200's, is considered to be the most valuable historical monument in town. The photot of the fresco below was the only one I dared take; as in many museums and churches, no pictures were allowed.

Guess what this is called - it's the Cemetery on the Hill!

Some street scenes on our way back to the pension.

Many of the homes were brightly colored like these. 

Steven is so often many steps in front of me as I stop and take pictures so, rather than have him wait for me, I just tell him to go on ahead and I'll catch up to him. That's why you see so many pictures of his back in case you've wondered.

We decided to call it a day here as we'd gotten up pretty early to tour around Targu Mures, then took the bus here, checked in at the pension and walked around the historic center for a few hours - enough for one day, I'm thinking. More photos of the town in my next post. Til then, take care and love from Annie