May 21, 2023 Sibiu RO

Sibiu is another one of the 7 Saxon cities in Romania. It is a nice valley city with the Carpathian Mountains in the background. As we drove into the city it had a very prosperous feel to it. Ton told me that it is considered the most livable city in Romania and that the former mayor who gets credit for the livability of Sibiu was later elected president.

The main square of Sibiu known as the Piata Mare.

We had the normal tourist stops on our itinerary, but really mostly just enjoyed walking around the city. It was a beautiful day and most of the people were locals enjoying their Sunday, I am sure later in the year there will be more tourists, but today it was nice seeing local people out enjoying the town.

People watching on the square.

We found an interesting display that looked quite old but is actually from 2004. During the rebuilding of one of the buildings in town some of the craft guilds restarted an old tradition of setting up a log were each craft attached something representing their work. It was a cool display though we almost missed it, because we were focused on reading the sign describing the process they used, we initially didn’t see the log. Ton tasked me with finding it so I typed it into Google maps and it told me I was one meter from it. I turned around the other way and there it was.

The poll with the tools of various craft guilds on it.

Ton became fascinated with the eyes of Sibiu. Most buildings built in the 1700 and 1800’s have ventilation dormers in the roofs. They are very common and you see them thru out Europe. In the 1800’s builders in Sibiu began putting a unique ventilation dormer in the roofs in the city that resemble eyes. There is no practical purpose to them they just look cool.

These are Tons favorite eyes. You can see a conventional ventilation dormer in the building to the left.

The eyes never really caught on outside of the immediate area of Sibiu so they are unique to the city. In 2017 the eyes were featured in an anti-corruption campaign with the saying “Sibiu” is watching you.

A different variation on the eyes of Sibiu.

Our next stop was the Turnul Sfatului or Council Tower in English. It is a seven story tower built in the middle ages that overlooks the Piata Mare. Ton usually is not a climber (heights are not her thing), but she really wanted to visit this tower. When we first arrived there was a sign on the door in Romanian that I interpreted to mean that entry was only during the first 10 minutes of each hour. We had a little bit of time to kill so we went off to do some window shopping.

The Turnal Sfatului from the ground.

We arrived back about 10 minutes before the top of the hour, and after a few minutes were joined by a few small groups of Romanians who read the sign and joined us waiting for the top of the hour. When one o’clock came round we all expected the imposing door to open up and we would be granted access. One o’clock came and went and nothing happened, so we all waited a few more minutes, finally one lady gave the door a tug, it opened so she went up the stairs. Everyone else followed her and found the ticket seller sitting one floor up the tower waiting patiently for us to arrive.

This is Tons favorite picture from a composition point of view, because it shows some eyes, the Carpathian Mountains, and the new town in the distance. She is not happy with the clarity due to the window in the tower being dirty.

After visiting the tower we went over to the Bridge of Lies. It is a cast iron pedestrian bridge over a sunken road. There are several stories about liars associated with the bridge, the legend I like the most is that if a merchant lies to or cheats a customer he was taken to the bridge and thrown off. The truth appears to be that the name is caused by German being a complicated language. The original name meant Lying Bridge (as in Lying down) which had something to do with the construction. The German for that apparently is close to Bridge of lies which is where all of the tales came from.

The Bridge of Lies with a couple of nice eyes in the background.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral was our next stop. The churches in the historic area are Lutheran because the population was originally dominated by Germans. Holy Trinity Cathedral is Orthodox which is the religion of most Romanians. We are glad we went out of our way to see it.

The altar and the dome of the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The artwork inside was magnificent.

On our last two trips we have visited many Orthodox churches in Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria. In Romania we noticed that the artwork was quite different than in those countries. The themes of the art seem to be the same, but the paintings themselves seem to be less stylistically rigid. It is almost like they are a meshing of the very stylistically rigid art in the Greek and Bulgarian churches with the very natural style of the Catholic churches we have visited. We really enjoyed the art and the iconography in Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Mary and Baby Jesus Icon from Holy Trinity.

We ended the day with a nice meal in what is supposed to be the oldest restaurant in the city. We both tried traditional meals and enjoyed them. I am really enjoying the polenta which is a staple in Romanian food.

An arched buttress from one of the churches on the square framing a road in the lower town.


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