The Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary, typically known as the Evangelical Cathedral, is the most famous church built in a gothic style. It is located in the Huet Square, the center of Sibiu, Transylvania.

Around the 13th century, there used to be a Romanesque basilica on the same spot. The community of Sibiu went into a significant expansion, from a small village to an important borough. Therefore, they felt the need for a bigger place of worship, under the promise of a sky-reaching tower.

The works for the much wanted cathedral started in 1380, but the people abandoned the construction for a while, fortifying it instead, due to frequent threats of attacks. With the erection of the steeple in 1520, the church was considered finished.

The immensity of the Evangelical Cathedral is the main charm of this gothic shrine, its tower measuring 74 meters. The seven level tower, considered the tallest in Transylvania, is surrounded by 4 other medium sized towers. There are two altars, one of which is probably from the old church. The church also used to have a cemetery, which lasted for three centuries. Here laid at rest important figures of Sibiu and not only, such as mayors and earls. This practice was forbidden in 1796, although a single time exception was made in 1803 with the passing of the renowned Samuel von Brukenthal. After fifty years, the gravestones, 67 in number, were moved from their place and were incorporated in the church’s walls, in a room called ferula. These same walls are ornamented with paintings of Johannes de Rosenow Georgamvon, which date from the middle 1600s.

The old organ of the Lutheran Cathedral, built in 1585, was substituted with a newer one, a Baroque style organ built by a Slovakian craftsman in 1671. It is now considered the largest organ from southeastern Europe. Two sculptors, namely Elias Nicolai and Sigismund Moss, contributed in the 16th century with carving marble stones of blood-red and grey color.

Although a series of artifacts are not shown to the public, such as a gilded silver cult pot made by Sebastian Hann, there are other treasured pieces left for the admiration of the public eye. Perhaps the most precious item in the Evangelical Cathedral is a calyx decorated with the most beautiful existent bronze gothic fonts in Romania. The font is a work of master Leonhardus and dates back from the 1400s.

The courtyard in front of the church is a bronze statue of the famous historian and bishop of Transylvania, George Daniel Teutsch. Besides its massive tower, probably the most striking exterior aspect is the colorful roof, which reminds of Vienna’s Stephansdom.

The main altar, the secondary altars, the paintings, the emblems, the bronze font, the organ and the architectural details fairly make the Evangelical Church of Sibiu it one of the most striking churches in Transylvania.

Besides these, during the summer, there are concerts every night. It also facilitates access for disabled persons, tourist information and it has its personal souvenir shop.

Astra Museum Complex is located in Sibiu, which is a strong exemplar of Transylvanian spirit.

The Astra Complex clusters under its name not only four ethnology and civilization museums, but also a documentation center, a conservation and restoration department and many more, which are to be mentioned.

The complex bases its existence on Romania’s need to harbor a deeply rooted history of its ethno-cultural identity and multiculturalism. The Transylvanian Association of Romanian Literature and Culture (ASTRA) set up the first exhibition in 1905.

The ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization (also known as “Muzeul civilizatiei populare Astra Sibiu”), often called the Open Air Museum, is the most significant unit. It is situated 8 kilometers away from the city center, within the confines of the natural reservation Dumbrava Sibiului. The Open Air Museum stretches over 96 hectares, out of which 40 hectares are covered by the permanent exhibition, which forms the largest ethnographic display in Europe. Architecture, technique and heritage are embodied by collections of mills, wooden churches, traditional homesteads and objects, which add up to more than 400 folkloric monuments.

The exhibits are grouped based on six thematic sectors, each with their own subgroups: food production, animal husbandry, production of raw materials, transportation, manufactured household objects, public buildings and an exposition of monumental sculptures.

Being an open air museum, it can easily host a series of events, such as: festivals, fairs, workshops and performances throughout all seasons, given the picturesque scenery. Also, it is very much suitable for walks, drives by carriage or sleigh and sightseeing.

The “Franz Binder” Museum of Universal Ethnography is located in the Small Square of Sibiu. It was inaugurated in 1993 and it holds the title of the first and only museum in Romania with the thematic of worlds’ civilization, culture and art, based on unique collections and collaborations. Its purpose is to introduce the perspective of everything non-European as a comparison and the term “difference” as an element of cultural identity.

Franz Binder is the founder of these extra-European collections. He was a merchant and a passionate explorer and also the Consul of Austria in the Turkish-Egyptian Sudan. The first move towards creating this museum is his donation of over 500 African objects to the Transylvanian Association of Natural Sciences from Sibiu. After this, a series of other donors added Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, Ecuadorian, Argentinian, Indonesian, Indian, African (and many more) heritage to the collection.

The “ASTRA” Museum of Transylvanian Civilization was founded in 1993 and follows the same concept of traditional museum as the Open Air Museum founded in 1905. This museum is a curator of patrimonial assets. Its main goal is to highlight Transylvanian values, pluri-ethnic community and coexistence. It stocks collections of embroidery, costumes, religious objects, wood-bone-iron and ceramics items and dolls which all together sum an outstanding number of 9000 objects. This impressive number troubles the possibility of permanent display due to the lack of space. Various exhibitions were organized in the country and throughout the world. Otherwise, the treasure is withdrawn in storages. The museum organizes fairs, contests and festivals under the name of Living Human Treasures.

The “Emil Sigerus” Museum of Ethnography and Saxon Folk Art also located in the Small Square of Sibiu, was founded in 1997. It was established under the task of presenting the role of the ethnic group named Transylvanian Saxons in Romanian culture. The main attraction of this museum is the impressive collection of Terracotta Tiles, after which come other 4000 objects in the form of costumes and other textiles, wooden, metal and bone objects, as well as beautifully painted furniture. The Emil Sigerus Museum has been in a continuous enrichment throughout the years, by means of donations and acquisitions.

The ASTRA Museum Complex nests a series of other extensions, such as: the “ASTRA” Film Studio that specializes in documentary film production, the Cornel Irimie Memorial Department, a personal collection of Sibiu’s most influential personality in the field of ethnology, the Conservation and Restoration Department that cares for the longevity of over 60000 objects.

Whether it’s for the urban located exhibitions or the perfectly preserved rural lifestyle of Transylvanians, the ASTRA Museum Complex is definitely something to see. The surroundings that interconnect these two treasuries shouldn’t as well be overlooked.

Sibiu, commonly called by its German correspondent, Hermannstadt, is one of the most important cities in Transylvania. It was twice the capital of the Principality of Transylvania in the 18th and 19th century. Even before, Sibiu always managed to bring Transylvania and Romania into prominence, representing one of the most important cultural scenes. It even became the European Capital of Culture in 2007, a year later to be ranked as one of “Europe’s most idyllic places to live”. In other respects, Sibiu, as a city with a history of over 900, was the pioneer that provided Eastern Europe with many premieres in virtually all domains.

Sibiu records its first identity in 1191 under the name of Cibinium, confirmed by Pope Celestine II, who also mentioned the existence of German settlers. By the 14th century, it had already become a relevant trade center and the biggest German city in Siebenbürgen, the seven citadels that form Transylvania. With World War I’s effect upon the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sibiu became part of Romania and withheld a majority of ethnic German population, Romanians being only a community. Between the years of communism, this phenomenon reversed, leaving Sibiu with a heartbreaking percentage of 1.1 Germans.

Nevertheless, Sibiu constantly put itself on the map through acts of pioneering. It was the place where the first hospital, the first library, the first school, the first pharmacy, the first paper mill, the first book store, the first theatre, the first museum, the first cast iron bridge, the first beer factory, the first Zoo garden, the first open-air cinema in Romania opened. And those are just a few of the firsts that took place in Sibiu.

Sibiu, along with its surroundings, sums a vast collection of museums and parks. The Museums are divided in two main categories. The ASTRA National Museum Complex (muzeul Astra) displays a large collection of ethnographic richness, while the Brukenthal Museum (muzeul Brukenthal) focuses on art, history and pharmacy and other sciences. Some of the biggest and best maintained parks are the Dumbrava Sibiului Natural Park, the Citadel Park and the Sub Arini Park. But these are just a quarter of green space that Sibiu lays out.
The city extends its touristic aspect with the Paltinis and Arena Platos ski resorts, two of Romania’s favorite winter holiday destinations.

The main attractions of Sibiu are distributed in two main areas, the Upper Town and the Lower Town. The Upper Town seems to have been the wealthier part; it is organized in three squares and it contains the main sights of the city. The Lower Town might have served as the manufacturing area and its architecture is quite rustic. This lower part of town takes in the oldest church in Sibiu, dating back to 1292.

The Grand Square has been the center of the city since the 15th century. There lays the Brukenthal Palace, a Baroque monument erected in the 18th century, former residence of governor Samuel von Brukenthal, now a museum carrying his name. Also on this northern side are the Moringer House, which bears the old coat of arms of Sibiu, the Jesuit Church, and an Art Nouveau building which now houses the city hall. Another city symbol here is the 8 centuries old Council Tower. On the southern side of the square there are some two-to-three-story houses that bear small windows on the roof, the “city’s eyes” as tourists like to call them.

Narrow passages connect the Grand Square to the Lesser Square, where the infamous Liars Bridge lies since 1859, as Romania’s first cast iron bridge. To the right of the bridge of lies Sibiu there’s the House of the Arts, on the left the Luxemburg House and under, Ocnei Street, which gives access to the Lower City.

The third square is Huet Square, which distinguishes itself from the other two by its Gothic buildings, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral in its center, and the Brukenthal Highschool.

Sibiu is one of the most fortified cities in Europe, having multiple rings built around it. All of the walls are connected through tunnels, passageways and bastions.

Another thing that keeps Sibiu on the map is the events held here yearly. The most reputable are the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, the Artmania and Rockin’ Transilvania festivals, the oldest Jazz Festival, and of course the Sibiu Medieval Festival.

The city of Sibiu is conveniently placed in the middle of Romania. This makes it the ideal starting point to all other major attractions of the country either by car, or via its international airport that has over 9 routes.

With excellent accommodation conditions, a great deal of green spaces, dozens of events spread throughout the entire year and, naturally, its everlasting architecture, Sibiu leaves little or no reason not to be visited.