In the Pied Piper legend the children of Hamelin are lured out of the town and to a cave or mountain (depending on what version you are reading). One interpretation of the story is that these were citizens of the area that left to settle in what is now Romania. Whether or not that is ture, Germans did come to Transylvania at the invitation of King Geza II of Hungary in the 1100s. They settled in a variety of towns and villages and built walls around their cities and churches in response to raids by the Tatars and Turks. As the 2007 Capital of Culture Sibiu is a gorgeous example of a Saxon town in Transylvania.
The Saxons may have made it to Sibiu, but I despaired of ever getting there. It is very difficult to get to Sibiu from Cluj by train. My Lonely Planet Romania guidebook describes it as lying at “an awkward rail junction.” Since trains are my main mode of transportation out of Cluj, I had little hope of going.
When my parents came to Romania for a visit they rented a car and I had my chance to get to Sibiu. What a lovely town! Well worth changing trains or taking a 4 hour bus ride without a bathroom or renting a car or following a Pied Piper out of your hometown. I took this trip a while ago and am just now finding the time to share it with you.
There are 3 main squares in the Old Town area of Sibiu, Piata Mica, Piata Mare, and Piata Huet.
The council house (the one with the clock on the right side of the picture) separates Piata Mica from Piata Mare.
Piata Huet is next to Piata Mica and is dominated by a church built between 1300 and 1520. The inside was undergoing restoration while we were there. But there is an amazing old crypt.
The church has a tower you can climb to look over the town.
The funny part of this tower climbing adventure was paying for it. The guidebook said it was a 4 lei fee but there was no place to pay at the bottom of the tower. It turns out you pay the 4 lei once you get to the top. A lovely multi-lingual young woman inhabiting a little room in tower asks you for the money before you are allowed to look out the tower windows. Considering that you had just climbed 2 sets of slightly scary stairs (see https://romanianreflections.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/stairs/) turning around and going back down because you don’t want to pay seems silly.
Piata Mare was hosting a Christmas Market while we were in Sibiu.
Down a street off Piata Huet is the Orthodox Cathedral from 1906.
A wander around town brings you down picturesque streets and to peices of some of the old walls and towers of Sibiu.