We took another day trip from our comfortable base in Braşov up north to the town of Sighişoara. It was a three hour train ride through more of the rolling hills of the Romanian countryside. We often saw horse-drawn wagons, old-fashioned domed mounds of grass (kept in fields or near barns) and many small farms as we passed by in the train. Sighişoara is another historical Saxon village similar to Braşov in that the original medieval core of the city is surrounded by walls and bastion towers associated with the various trade guilds, but this village is perched up on a hillside with great views of the surrounding river valley and forested hillsides.
When we arrived there was some kind of local festival going on, similar a county fair in the United States. They had carnival rides such as bumpers cars, a swinging thing, a merry-go-round, cotton candy, trinkets, all complete with cheesy 80’s music blaring from the carnival rides. It was a stark contrast to have the carnival below this awesome hilltop medieval fortified village, but we got some more of the round, roasted sugar pastry rolls and kept going up the hill. The main historical center includes a prominent tower (the Clock Tower) and the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (aka Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula). We visited the local museum, and they are quite proud of their education system, which helped produce Hermann Oberth, a pioneering researcher in rocketry and space travel.
The communist government of Nicolae Ceausescu hired the Romanian architect (and now member of parliament) Anca Petrescu to “systemitize” portions of the historical city for new communist apartment buildings, under the pretext that flooding in the 1970s justified this demolition, even though the new buildings were built in the same floodplain location. Fresh out of school, Anca Petrescu designed the imposing (some call it an inhuman and unfortunate monstrosity) Palace of the Parliament/Ceausescu Palace in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, a bulky administrative building that ranks second in the world in size after the Pentagon. According to our guide book, Petrescu designed an ugly complex for Sighişoara, but was never completed below the hilltop citadel. A BBC reporter has a telling story about interviewing her that helps to explain her arrogant and horrible approach to urban design. Additional plans for a Dracula Theme park were also recently scuttled, thanks to the Mihai Eminescu Trust with the support of Prince Charles of Britain.
***click to enlarge photos***