A street in the lower townSibiu old buildings

A street in the lower town

Sibiu old buildings and houses

Medieval street in Sibiu

Liars Bridge

Passage of the Stairs

Evanghelical Church in background

Arts house

Potters Tower

Orthodox Cathedral

Sibiu City Hall.

Sibiu Fortifications

Much of the city’s aspect is due to its position, easily defensible, but allowing horizontal development. The old city of Sibiu lies on the right bank of the Cibin River, on a hill situated at about 200 m from the river. It consists of two distinct entities: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Traditionally, the Upper Town was the wealthier part and commercial outlet, while the Lower Town served as the manufacturing area.

[edit] The Lower Town

The Lower Town (German: Unterstadt, Romanian: Oraşul de jos) comprises the area between the river and the hill, and it developed around the earliest fortifications. The streets are long and quite wide for medieval city standards, with small city squares at places. The architecture is rather rustic: typically two-storey houses with tall roofs and gates opening passages to inner courts.

Most of the exterior fortifications were lost to industrial development and modern urban planning in the mid-late 19th century; only four towers still exist. A building associated with newer urbanism of the period is the Independenţa Highschool.

This area has the oldest church in the city, dating back to 1292.

[edit] The Upper Town

The Upper Town (German: Oberstadt, Romanian: Oraşul de sus) is organised around three city squares and a set of streets along the line of the hill. As the main area for burgher activities, the area contains most points of interest in the city.

[edit] Grand Square

Grand Square (German: Großer Ring, Romanian: Piaţa Mare ) is, as its name suggests, the largest square of the city, and has been the center of the city since the 15th century. 142 m long and 93 m wide, it is one of the largest ones in Transylvania.

Brukenthal Palace, one of the most important Baroque monuments in Romania, lies on the north-western corner of the square. It was erected between 1777 and 1787 as the main residence for the Governor of Transylvania Samuel von Brukenthal. It houses the main part of the National Brukenthal Museum, opened in 1817, making it one of the oldest museums in the world. Next to the palace is the Blue House or Moringer House, an 18th-century Baroque house bearing the old coat of arms of Sibiu on its façade.

On the north side is the Jesuit Church, along with its dependencies, the former residence of the Jesuits in Sibiu. Also on the north side, at the beginning of the 20th century an Art Nouveau building was constructed on the west part, now it houses the mayor’s office.

Next to the Jesuit Church on the north side is the Council Tower, one of the city’s symbols. This former fortification tower from the 13th century has been successively rebuilt over the years. The building nearby used to be the City Council’s meetingplace; beneath it lies an access way between the Grand Square and the Lesser Square.

On the south and east sides are two- or three-storey houses, having tall attics with small windows known as the city’s eyes. Most of these houses are dated 15th to 19th centuries, and most of them are Renaissance or Baroque in style.

[edit] Lesser Square

As its name says, the Piaţă Mică (Small Square, German: Kleiner Ring) is smaller in size, being rather longer than wide. Its north-west side has a curved shape, unlike the Grand Square, which has an approximately rectangular shape. Accordingly, Piaţă Mică plays a smaller part in the city’s present-day life.

The square is connected to the other two squares and to other streets by small, narrow passages. The main access from the Lower City is through Ocnei Street, which divides the square in two. The street passes under the Liar’s Bridge – the first bridge in Romania to have been cast in iron (1859).

To the right of the bridge is another symbol of the city, The House of the Arts, an 14th century arched building formerly belonging to the Butchers’ Guild. On the left side of the bridge is the Luxemburg House, a Baroque four-storey building.

[edit] Huet Square

Huet Square is the third of the three main squares of Sibiu. Its most notable feature is the Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral in its center. It is the place where the earliest fortifications have been built in the late 12th century or early 13th century. The buildings around this square are mainly Gothic. On the west side lies the Brukenthal Highschool, in place of a former 14th-century school.

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