The first human settlements in Sibiu date from the Paleolithic area, and the first documents of the city appear in an archive issued in the late twelfth century by Pope Celestine III.
In the Roman epoch there was a settlement called Cedonia (in the Guşteriţa neighborhood of today). A short journey into the fascinating history of this city will give you the image of this town, its role and importance in the development of the region and even in other parts of the country.
According to historical evidence, in 1241 Sibiu was conquered and partially destroyed by Mongol hordes. But it raised like a Phoenix from its ashes and the 14th century represents the beginning of an unprecedented development period for Sibiu, which, under most favorable auspices, had become the most important city in Transylvania, due to commercial interest.
Sibiu had more than 13 gateways in the city (some scholars say even 14) and some of them are still standing and represent the most important monuments of Sibiu even today.
Poarta Scararilor / The Stair makers Gate is the oldest building in Sibiu, still standing today. Some say it’s the first form of fortification, as it is known to have existed ever since the twelfth century. The fact is that the stone gate had been standing there as a major fortifications, probably before the Mongol invasion period. In the sixteenth century the gate undergoes changes and reinforcements, with the reconfiguration of the city by including the Lower Town in the fortified enclosure. It functioned as a gateway for about three centuries; afterwards it received a secondary role by strengthening the Lower Town. It remains one of the most important gates of the medieval period, as all roads, coming from all three Romanian Principalities were connected to this entrance in the city of Sibiu. Is has kept the same purpose until today; it was restored in 2005 and it remains one of the most important monuments of Sibiu.
The Tower Hall is the most important monument of the city, a symbol in itself and few know that is one of the oldest gates that are still standing. Its history overlaps with the one of the city. The name comes from the neighborhood in which it had been erected: during those times, that was the place where the city hall was located.
The Tower Hall served as fire lookout, arrest, warehouse, and in the last two centuries it hosts the Museum of Sibiu. It was rebuilt in 1588, restored again at the end of the 19th century, then in early and mid-twentieth century.
Sibiu medieval period was characterized by economic growth and continuous development.
The society was very well organized and locals formed connections with shoemakers and craftsmen from Moldova and Romanian Country, as well as Hungary and Germany, therefore, this area, just like Targu Mures, Targu Secuiesc, or Brasov was a very prosperous economic center.
Craft and merchant associations in Sibiu have obtained a number of rights and privileges which led to an unparalleled flowering of city life; and rulers of Moldavia and the Romanian Country have granted Sibians with certain facilities, like, for instance, in the 14th century, the inhabitants of Sibiu had monopoly and priority over the trade with Romanian Country. Following the continuous economic development, in 1366 Sibiu was declared “city”.
And not just economic, but cultural, as well: the first book written in Romanian language was published in Sibiu in 1544. In 1692, Sibiu became the capital of Transylvania and the connections and influences with the Austrian Empire flourished.
Brukenthal Palace is the most important proof and a living witness, so to speak, of this flourishing period. Sibiu is becoming a promoter of progress in the country: the first railroad was built in 1872, electric current is introduced in 1897, the headquarter is set at Astra Sibiu etc. Throughout the centuries, many Saxon families had settled in the region, strengthening the social, political, cultural and economic connections with their homelands.
Unfortunately, the historical events that followed (World War II and the communist regime) have led to a substantial reduction in the Saxon population in the city, whether as a result of deportations to Siberia initially or subsequently as a result of massive emigration to Germany.
In recent years, with the efforts coordinated by the former mayor of Sibiu, turned Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis the prestige of Sibiu war reestablished and, in 2007, Sibiu become the European capital of culture, together with Luxembourg.
It is one of the most vivid, aristocratic and authentic cities of Europe, where several important artistic festivals take place annually, hosting a great number of visitors from Romania and worldwide.
If you visit Sibiu, you will be introduced to the peak of Romanian and European culture, architecture, cuisine and a great bonus of amazingly beautiful natural environment which surround the city.