Sibiu

Information

Sibiu (, German: Hermannstadt, Hungarian: Nagyszeben) is a city in Transylvania, Romania with a population of about 170,000. It straddles the river Cibin, a tributary of the river Olt.

It is the capital of Sibiu County.

Geography and climate

Sibiu is situated near the geographical center of Romania. Set in the Cibin Depression, the city is near to Făgăraş Mountains (about 20 km away), the Cibin Mountains (12 km), and Lotrului Mountains (about 15 km), which border the depression in its southwestern section. The northern and eastern limits of Sibiu are formed by the Târnavelor Plateau, which descends to the Cibin Valley through Guşteriţei Hill.Cibin river and some roads of national and international interest run through Sibiu, which is also an important city for the railway transportation, as the meeting point of east-west and north-south routes.

Sibiu's climate is temperate-continental with average temperatures of 8 to 9° C. The multi-annual average of rainfall is 662 l/mp, and the number of days of hard frost is about 120/year.

History

The city was founded in 1190 by Saxon colonists settled in the area. It was probably built near a Roman settlement, one that would have come to be known during early medieval age as Caedonia, which might have been deserted at the time of the Saxons' arrival.

In the 14th century, it was already an important trade center. In 1376 the craftsmen were divided in 19 guilds. Sibiu became the most important ethnic German city among the seven cities that gave Transylvania its German language name of Siebenbürgen, and it was home to the Universitas Saxorum, the Assembly of Germans in Transylvania.Common opinion in the 17th century ascribed Sibiu the quality of being the easternmost city to be part of the European sphere; it was also the eastern terminus of postal routes.During the 18th and 19th centuries the city also became one of the most important centers for ethnic Romanians in the region. The first Romanian-owned bank had its headquarters here (The Albina Bank), as did the ASTRA (Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and Romanian's People Culture). After the Romanian Orthodox Church was granted status in the Habsburg Empire from the 1860s onwards, Sibiu became the Metropolitan seat, and the city preserved its title as the third most important center for the Church in modern Romania. Between the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and 1867 (the year of the Ausgleich), Sibiu was the meeting-place of the Transylvanian Diet, which had taken its most representative form after the Empire agreed to extend voting rights in the region.

After World War I, when Austria-Hungary was dissolved, Sibiu became part of Romania; the majority of its population was still ethnic German and Hungarian. After 1990 most of the city's ethnic Germans emigrated to Germany. Among the roughly 2,000 who have remained is Klaus Johannis, who is currently mayor of Sibiu.

Milestones in Sibiu's history

  • 1292 - The first hospital in what is now Romania was opened.
  • 1380 - The first attested school in what is now Romania.
  • 1494 - The first pharmacy in what is now Romania.
  • 1534 - The first paper mill in what is now Romania.
  • 1544 - The first book in Romanian language was printed in Sibiu.
  • 1551 - Conrad Haas' experiment with rockets, the world's first.
  • 1671 - Methane gas was discovered near Sibiu.
  • 1782 - Franz Joseph Müller discovered tellurium.
  • 1795 - The first lightning rod in Southeastern Europe was installed in Cisnădie.
  • 1797 - Samuel von Hahnemann opened the world's first homeopathic laboratory.
  • 1817 - The Brukenthal Museum, the first museum in what is now Romania, was opened.
  • 1896 - The first ose of electricity in Romania, and the first power line in Southeastern Europe.
  • 1904 - The second city in Europe to use an electric-powered trolly.
  • 1928 - The first zoo in Romania.
  • 1989 - The second city in to take part in the Romanian Revolution.

Population

As of approximately 2002, Sibiu has a population of about 170,000. The ethnic breakdown is as follows:

  • Romanians 95%
  • Hungarians 2%
  • Germans 1,6%
  • other 1,4%
Most of the population is of the Romanian Orthodox religion. Protestants and Roman Catholics represent 4% of the population.

  • 25% of the population are over 50 years old
  • 18% of the population are college or university graduates

Economy

Sibiu is one of the most prosperous cities of Romania, and also receives one of the highest rates of foreign investment in the country. It is an important manufacturer of automotive components (Bilstein-Compa, Takata, Continental, and SNR Roulments). Other local industries are machine components, textiles, agro-industry, and electrical components (Siemens).

One of the main concerns for the city is attracting new investors to locate their businesses in Sibiu, and an industrial park has been recently completed. The city also contains Romania's largest stock exchange outside of Bucharest, the Sibiu Stock Exchange.

Employment breakdown by economic sector

  • Industry - 49%
  • Commerce - 15%
  • Construction - 7.5%
  • Health - 7.5%
  • Education - 7%
  • Transport - 6.5%

Transportation

It has an international airport with daily connections to Germany, Italy and Austria, most of them via Timişoara.

Tursib is the city's transport system who operates one tramway line to Răşinari, 5 trolleybus lines and about 20 bus lines. It is also an important hub for the international bus links with the biggest passenger transporter in Romania, Atlassib, based here.

The city is also a hub for the Romanian railway network, CFR, with links to Braşov, Râmnicu Vâlcea, Alba Iulia and Mediaş. It has an important diesel powered locomotives depot and a freight terminal.

Tourism

In 2007 Sibiu will be the European Capital of Culture (together with Luxembourg). It will be the most important cultural event that has ever happened in the city and a great number of tourists are expected, both domestic and foreign. [1].

The city of Sibiu and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas in Romania. It holds one of the best preserved historical sites in the country, many of its medieval fortifications having been kept in excellent state. Its old center has begun the process for becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Sibiu and surrounding area have an important museal offer of 12 institutions which are housing art collections, paintings, decorative arts, archaeology, anthropology, history, industrial archeology and history of technology and natural sciences. Also, the city lies close to the Făgăraş Mountains - a very popular trekking destination, close to the Păltiniş resort - a popular winter holiday destination, and it is at the heart of the former Saxon communities in Transylvania renowned for its fortified churches.

There are over 35 hotels in Sibiu, with different classifications. The most exquisite hotel is the Împăratul Romanilor hotel, located in the center of the old part of the city. Continental Hotels Romania owns two important hotels in the city and in 2006 it will upgrade one of them and rebadge it under the Ibis name with an Accor franchise. Also at least two brand new hotels are scheduled to open by 2007.

Places of interest

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 City and the Lower City. Traditionally, the Upper City was the wealthier part and commercial outlet, while the Lower City served as the manufacturing area.

The Lower City

The Lower City (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 late 19th century; only one or two 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 1386.

The Upper City

The Upper City (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 Sibiu.

The Large Square

The Large Square (Romanian: Piaţa Mare, German: Großer Ring) is, as its name suggests, the largest square of the city, and has been the center of the city since the 16th 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 Trasylvania Samuel von Brukenthal. It houses the main part of the National Brukenthal Museum, opened in 1817. Next to the palace is the Blue 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 14th 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 Large Square and the Small 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 17th to 19th centuries, and most of them are Baroque in style.

The Small Square

As its name says, the Piaţă Mică is smaller in size, being rather longer than wide. Its north-west side has a curved shape, unlike the Large 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 arched building formerly belonging to the Butchers' Guild. On the left side of the bridge is the Luxemburg House, a Baroque four-storey building, former seat of the Goldsmiths' Guild.

The 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. The buildings around this square are mainly Gothic. On the west side lies the Brukenthal Highschool, in place of a former 15th century school.

The Fortifications

The city of Sibiu was one of the most important fortified cities in Southeastern Europe. Multiple rings were built around the city, most of them out of clay bricks. The south-eastern fortifications are the best kept, and all three parallel lines are still visible. The first is an exterior earth mound, the second is a 10-meter-tall red brick wall, and the third line comprises towers linked by another 10-meter-tall wall. All structures are connected via a labyrinth of tunnels and passageways, designed to ensure transport between the city and lines of defense.

In the 16th century more modern elements were added to the fortifications, mainly leaf-shaped bastions. One of these survived to this day, as the Haller Bastion (all the way down Coposu Boulevard).

Passage of the Stairs

The steep Passage of the Stairs leads down to the lower section of Sibiu. It descends along some fortifications under the support arches. It is the most picturesque of the several passages linking the two sides of the city.

Culture

Sibiu is one of Romania's most culturally lively cities. It has two theatres and a philharmonic orchestra. The Radu Stanca National Theatre [2] is one of the leading Romanian theatres. With origins dating back to 1787, it attracts some of the best-known Romanian directors, such as Tompa Gábor and Silviu Purcărete. It has both a Romanian-language and a German-language section, and presents an average of five shows a week. The Gong Theatre is specialised in puppetry, mime and non-conventional shows for children and teenagers; it also presents shows in both Romanian and German. The State Philharmonic of Sibiu [3] presents weekly classical music concerts and also lesson concerts for teenagers. The concerts take place in the newly renovated Thalia Hall, a concert hall and theatre dating from 1787, situated along the old city fortifications. Sporadic organ concerts are organised in the Evangelical Cathedral and thematic concerts are presented by the Faculty of Theology choir at the Orthodox Cathedral.

Museums

Sibiu's museums are organised around two entities: the Brukenthal National Museum and the ASTRA National Museum Complex. The Brukenthal Museum consists of an Art Gallery and an Old Books Library located inside the Brukenthal Palace, a History Museum located in the old town hall building, a Pharmacy Museum located in one of the first apothecary shops in Europe, dating from the 16th century, a Natural History Museum and a Museum of Arms and Hunting Trophies.

The ASTRA National Museum Complex focuses on ethnography, and consists of a Traditional Folk Civilisation Museum—a 96-hectare open-air museum located on a forest south of Sibiu—a Universal Ethnography Museum, a Museum of Transylvanian Civilisation and a Museum of Saxon Ethnography and Folk Art. It also has a project of opening a Museum of the Culture and Civilisation of the Romany People. There is a Steam Locomotives Museum close to the railway station, sheltering around 40 locomotives, two of which are functional.

Events

A great number of festivals are organised yearly in Sibiu, the most prestigious being the Theatre Festival organised each spring at the end of May. The one in the summer of 2005, gathered over 2,500 participants from 68 countries; over 300 shows were presented. Also, the oldest Jazz Festival in Romania is organised here, as well as a festival for young classical music artists, a documentary film festival, a medieval arts festival and many more smaller cultural events. [4]

Education

Sibiu is an important centre of higher education, with over 26,000 undergraduate students in 2004.

The Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu was founded in 1990, with five faculties: Engineering and Sciences; Letters; History and Law; Medicine; Food and Textile Processing Technology. Nowadays, it has many departments.

  • Andrei Şaguna Faculty of Theology
  • Faculty of Letters and Arts
  • Nicolae Lupu Faculty of History and Patrimony
  • Simion Bărnuţiu Faculty of Law
  • Hermann Oberth Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Sciences
  • Victor Papilian Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Journalism
  • Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Food Industry and Environmental Protection
  • The University College
  • Department for Distance and E-Learning
Sibiu also houses the Nicolae Bălcescu Land Forces Military Academy, the most important military academy in Romania, as well as some private universities.

In Sibiu there are 20 educational institutions on the secondary level, the most prestigious of which are:

  • Colegiul Naţional Gheorghe Lazăr - mainly sciences and informatics
  • Colegiul Naţional Samuel von Brukenthal - German language highschool
  • Colegiul Naţional Octavian Goga - mainly social sciences
  • Liceul Teoretic Onisifor Ghibu - informatics, social sciences and sports
  • Colegiul Pedagogic Andrei Şaguna - training for schoolteachers
  • Liceul Teoretic Constantin Noica - social sciences and sciences

Famous natives

  • Andrei Codrescu, writer
  • Sabina Cojocar, gymnast
  • Iancu Sasul, Moldavian Prince
  • Nicolae Manolescu, Romanian literary critic and politician
  • Hermann Oberth, space flight technology pioneer
  • Nicolaus Olahus, archbishop of Hungary
  • Radu Vasile, former Prime Minister of Romania
  • Alina Ciorogariu, Miss Tourism World 2003

Twinned towns

Marburg (Germany) since 2005.Landshut (Germany) since 2002.Rennes (France) since 1999.Klagenfurt (Austria) since 1990.Columbia, Missouri (USA) since 1994.Valencia, Carabobo (Venezuela) since 1993.Wirral (UK) since 1994.Bauru (Brazil) since 1995.Malines (Belgium) since 1996.

References

  • Sibiu on RomaniaTourism.com. Reference regarding surface area, population, etc. Retrieved 22 Nov 2005.
  • Sibiu Online - Official Site with information on tourism and history, Sibiu pictures, and more. In Romanian, English and German.

External links

1190 establishmentsMunicipalities of RomaniaSibiu CountySibiu

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