Saturday, 10 April 2010


As promised, the first of a few photo-heavy posts sharing more details of our Transylvanian trip! I thought I'd start with a closer look at Sighisoara (pronounced Sig-i-shwah-ra - hard 'g', soft 's'). As I already mentioned here, it was about a 3-hour drive from Cluj-Napoca, but the journey itself was really interesting; we saw lots of countryside and some lovely buildings, and some nesting storks!

We stopped to take a closer look - and a few photos, of course ;-) See that dirt track? That's the main road through the town... And yes, the storks nest on top of telegraph poles!

From this angle you can see how much the little birds love the storks' nests too!

We also saw this sign:

It was necessary, as we saw horses and carts often during our journey - just trotting happily along the major roads! (This was one of several things that made driving - well, being driven - in Romania interesting!!) And as we were walking back to the car, I saw more evidence of the traditional still being common here; this family was off to do some work in the fields:

We did see new tractors and up-to-date equipment, but we also saw a lot of ploughs being drawn by horses or even by hand. Much of what farming there is, is on the 'strip farming' basis - ie a landholder is allocated strips of land scattered over several fields, rather than one or more fields in their entirety. Partly as a result of this, farming isn't a big industry in the country. Much of the land is left fallow and families in the country will most likely grow what they need for themselves rather than develop their land and grow crops to sell.

So yes, the journey itself was interesting to start with! And then we got there, to find a beautiful medieval old town, still encircled by the town walls and UNESCO protected so well-preserved. There is a new town as well but those buildings also 'fit' and complemented the atmosphere. The old town is set on a hill, so the clock tower was visible from pretty much wherever you were!

Its rooftop was beautifully ornate:

And there were little figures that processed at midday each day (which we missed, sadly, what with the 3-hour journey and all that...)

There were a few hints of the Dracula connection - we saw the house where Vlad Dracul lived for a while:

He was the father of Vlad Tepes (pronounced Tsepesh), ie Vlad the Impaler...

Look closely at that last pic! You see the black shape in the sky? The Boy claims it was a bird but I'm not so sure.... ;-)

Round the corner from the clock tower we found the bottom of a covered stairway that led to the top of the hill:

You can also see the church at the top, but the reason the steps were covered over was to enable schoolchildren to reach the school on the hill whatever the weather (which could range from -20oC and heavy snow in the winter, to 40oC in the summer). There are 175 steps!

Here's the school:

And here's the church:

Sighisoara was one of the Siebenburgen, seven towns which were wealthy, fortified towns founded and run by Germans to defend eastern Transylvania. Its German name is Schassburg. This meant that the sign outside the church was in both Romanian and German, which pleased me as I could understand some of it!!

Back down in the old town we wandered around the walls a bit, admiring the towers (which were built by the different tradesman guilds), and found another covered walkway - this time it was the 'Old Women's Walkway', enabling the elderly and more infirm to make their way through the town whatever the aforementioned weather conditions:

We also spotted quite a few of those rooftop 'eyes'!

And if you've made it all the way through this post, here's your reward! A lovely view across part of Sighisoara - sorry that it's partly obscured by a certain The Doctor and his The Wife.... ;-)


Maria Ontiveros said...

OMG - it's an actual picture of you! And it's a great one! Thanks for the peek at Transylvania. I love the sign and the family of field workers. Also, love the covered stairway and the "eyes" on that house at the end.

Jane said...

That ornate church is beautiful! And the family off to work the land - I wish my older children looked as keen when it came to working in our garden!! Sadly only my 5 year old seems to enjoy it ;) What an interesting holiday you had!

Sian said...

Hey! Look at you two! I've just caught myself thinking about waving at the computer screen lol. Fascinating photos all round, really.

Jennifer Rose said...

gorgeous photos :D that clock is really cool looking

and a nice picture of the 2 of you too :)

Rhona said...

The photos are really interesting, and the bonus photo of The Doctor and The Wife was great to see! Those eyes on the house are quite weird ;o)

The Scrappy Tree said...

What beautiful architecture :) loved the sign with the horse and cart too LOL
and hello to you and the doctor!

Mise said...

The Doctor and his The Wife! You both look impossibly young. The amazement of the commentators! Sorry, I mean The Commentators.

helena said...

wow - what an amazing place and you have a great eye for the interesting bits. As Sian siad, hard not to wave at the last photo!

Amy said...

Mel what a fabulously interesting and intriguing place to visit - I bet The Doctor loved pointing out all of the historical tidbits! I feel so isolated here in Australia I would love to visit europe one day :-)
FANTASTIC photo of you both - you are such a brave girl now!
Oh .... I'm waving too :-)

Debbie H said...

Wow what a beautiful unspoilt part of the world - not caught up with the fast modern way which we suppose is 'better'. I think I'd prefer the unspoilt traditional!

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Wow, Mel, this is a fantastic post. The pictures and bit of history you shared make me want to go there and see it all myself. What a great family vacation.

And, a nice surprise to see The Doctor and The You at the end of the post. :o) xo

JO SOWERBY said...

wow pics of you and hubby...........very attractive couple u make too. i am concerned about the black object in the sky and the Boy wearing those shades!!!!! You know what happens to people when they've been bitten and cant stand the sunlight? hee hee
Jo xxx

Unknown said...

Great photos!

scrappyjacky said...

Great photos....and even better to finally see you!!

Cheri said...

Mel - these pictures are fantastic! It is so picturesque and I can only imagine what a great scrapbook this trip is going to make! Bonus with the pic of you & The Doctor. I think it is the first time I've seen him since I've been following your blog! Wordle should be really interesting after this!