When initially planning our time in Romania, Sighisoara was high on our list of cities to visit. We were even planning on spending a couple nights there. Unfortunately, as luck would have it the railway and bus connections just wouldn’t line up as planned and we made a last minute decision to stay in Sibiu instead (a 6 hour direct train from Timisoara). Although we were disappointed to not be staying in Sighisoara, we quickly realized that Sibiu was a more ideal base with it’s cosmopolitan feel and easy access to things like groceries and restaurants.
Although this meant our time in Sighisoara was limited to only one day, in the end we were able to cram our visit into an exhausting eleven-hour day trip – not ideal but definitely worthwhile.
Sighisoara is probably best known as the birthplace of the infamous Vlad Tepes – you probably know him as Vlad the Impaler or Count Dracula. In reality, he was the fearsome Prince of Wallachia (now the lower part of Romania) known for his excessive cruelty in both war and rule, and a man estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people during his reign. Nowadays, you see his face everywhere you go in both Romania and Transylvania, and everyone claims any bit of his life they can (“Vlad lived here for 3 years” or “Vlad once stopped and tied his shoe in this spot”). His face is everywhere, but Sighisoara itself is much more than just Vlad.
After spending two days exploring the perfectly maintained squares and wide tree-lined streets of Sibiu, we were starting to second guess our preconceived thoughts on Transylvania. But Sighisoara was about to change that. As the only city in Romania to have UNESCO status all to itself, we knew it was going to be spectacular. And we were not disappointed. From the moment the fortified citadel comes into view you feel like you are right in the heart of “classic” Transylvania.
Crooked buildings, towering spires, and graveyards fill the streets of the old citadel and we felt like we had been transported hundreds of years back in time. Sighisoara feels exactly how a Transylvanian town should, a bit twisted and different, with an ambiance of mystery in the air. If only the surroundings had been drained of colour, instead of dressed in cheery pastel hues, the setting could have hosted a Vincent Price film (or satire courtesy of Bill Hader and Saturday Night Live)
Alas, we escaped free of vampire bites, with only pleasant memories of Sighisoara’s charming citadel and old town. Although doing it as a daytrip from Sibiu was long and exhausting, it was most definitely worth it, and we will not soon forget our time there.