Although the term “eyes of Sibiu” might be associated with something quite different at first, it is actually an architectural solution, the distinctive eyebrow-shaped cornice on the roofs of many houses in the city. In our virtual globetrotting series, this time we visit this year’s European Wandering Capital, courtesy of our colleague Mircea.
What should we know about the place where you live?
Sibiu was a European Capital of Culture in 2007 and, ever since, culture and tourism are development engines for the city, along with a solid and functional economic environment. After 2007 the city continued to develop its cultural calendar which attracted more and more tourists ready to enjoy hundreds of events taking place here every year. Sibiu became thus an acknowledged destination for cultural tourism. This is confirmed by the fact that Sibiu is the only city in Romania that was awarded 3 Michelin stars. The restrictions necessary to fight the pandemics took a toll on the city’s cultural life too, but we are all working towards returning to the dynamic and colorful calendar of events.
In 2021, Sibiu will be the European Capital of Hiking. Safely and responsibly, tourists can walk on the trails which will be set up this year inside the city, but also in the city surroundings, including mountain trails and cultural routes.
Why do you love to live there?
People – polite, warm, full of life
A smaller city means that the distances are smaller and the streets are less crowded, which makes people in Sibiu calmer and polite. People are in no rush and they take the time to enjoy their life.
Beautiful green spaces
If you love nature, you will definitely love Sibiu’s green spaces. Sub Arini Park is one of the oldest parks in Romania, having been founded in 1856. Here you can enjoy a peaceful walk among 68 tree species. Also, the ASTRA Museum of Folk Civilization, the second biggest open-air museum in the world, will seduce you with plenty of activities you can enjoy: from a walk in the forest to watching the old houses and buildings from all around Romania and getting to know their history.
Sibiu goes hand in hand with cultural diversity. Throughout the centuries, the Saxons and Hungarians left their traces here, that are kept alive in different events: the Winter Customs from Sibiu Surroundings (Marginimea Sibiului), the Bathing of the Johns from Talmacel, Meteleaua from Avrig, and The Escape of the Lole from Agnita and the list can continue.
Also, the traditional cuisine was also influenced by the Saxon and Hungarian population, which is why you will enjoy a special culinary experience in Sibiu.
The slogan “A city of culture. A city of cultures.” best fits Sibiu. Sibiu has the third most important Theater Festival in Europe, jazz festivals, rock festivals, film festivals, and so on. Not to mention that summers in Sibiu are full of events and you can find something to do every weekend, from music festivals, outdoor cinemas to sports competitions, etc.
The Saxon Architecture and the Old Town
The historic center displays an extensive stock of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. The evolution of the city from its initial strategic stronghold protecting a rural settlement to a mercantile and artisan center and the powerful regional capital city is expressed in the important collection of vernacular buildings, to be seen at every corner in the historic center.
The ethnographic villages close to Sibiu have a lot to offer. You can visit the fortified churches around Sibiu: Cisnadie, Cisnadioara, Valea Viilor, or Bazna and Biertan or taste the local gastronomy and experience the local traditions in the nearby villages.
Things to see
Tourist attractions, hiking trails
Although a medium-sized city, Sibiu is home to many tourist attractions. Take, for example, the Great Square (Piata Mare), where visitors can find the Brukenthal Palace – home to one of Romania’s most important art collections, and the Roman-Catholic Church. But there are two other beautiful squares in Sibiu, namely the Small Square (Piata Mica), which is linked to the Great Square by a passage beneath the Council Tower – the best spot for taking pictures in Sibiu, and the Huet Square, which has the Evangelical Cathedral right in the center.
And, of course, there is the Bridge of Lies – the first bridge in Romania to have been cast in iron and a symbol of the city of Sibiu. This bridge surrounded by beautiful, old buildings has become quite popular among tourists mainly due to the legends surrounding it. According to one of the legends (and the most well-known), if a person tells a lie while on it, the bridge is supposed to creak.
But there are plenty of other places to see in Sibiu, such as churches, museums, and the city’s towers.
Art – The European Art Gallery, Brukenthal National Museum
The European Art Gallery is the central part of the Brukenthal National Museum, extending on the four levels of the Palace that hosts its 12 permanent exhibitions. Its collections vary from gothic art, cartography, and prints to the domain of Transylvanian medieval art or the special section featuring the 23 masterpieces ‘recovered from the 1948 confiscation and the 1968 theft’. The gallery has dedicated spaces for the German and Austrian painting schools, displaying some 500 creations dated from the 15th to the 18th century, but it also displays the works of Flemish, Dutch and Italian painters.
Food & Drink:
I have to start with my favorite so far, and this is Benjamin Steakhouse which is at 2 minutes away from Piata Mare on a peaceful street of the Old Town. Although their specialty is beef, you can find a great variety in their menu from chicken, pork, and lamb to great salads. If you’re here for lunch you can try a burger with delicious fries and if you want to take dinner here, you’ll have enough time to wait for a full steak. Also, be sure to book your table before coming to this restaurant.
If you want to try some traditional Romanian food, Crama Sibiul Vechi can be a great place to get used to their kind of food. You might want to try some traditional soup with hot pepper and continue with some grilled meat or sarmale. The place is also in the center of the city and can be found very easily even if it’s established in a place similar to a wine cellar. Well, that’s what “crama” actually means.
In the lower city, very close to the biggest fresh market and the river of Cibin, you can find an excellent Portuguese restaurant. The name Old Lisbon speaks for itself, but not everybody knows that you can try all sorts of dishes from the Portuguese cuisine right in the historic center of Sibiu.”
What country would you like to visit the most?
What are the three words that come to your mind about Hungary?
Kürtőskalács, gulyás, paprikás.