Chambers at Large in Sighisoara: UNESCO heritage site and home place of Vlad the Impaler, Romania
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
One hundred miles away from Bran Castle is the town of Sighisoara (pronounced Siggy-sure-ah) the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, Voivode of Wallachia (Romania), who is believed to have killed over 80,000 people in his bloodthirsty lifetime. Was it Vlad’s vicious love of impalement the reason why Dracula impales his victims with his fangs and has a terrible thirst for blood?
Whatever the source of Bram Stoker’s inspiration, Vlad and Dracula have put this town on the map, but I’d return in a heartbeat as the old town is extremely pretty; the multitudinous colours of the buildings being far more vibrant than those in Brasov. It is a UNESCO heritage site and the cobbled streets and town square are a real delight.
I was so taken by this town I did very little in it other than bumble around. I probably should have climbed the 172 steps to a church or gone up the clocktower to gaze over the rooftops, but the weather was an unbelievable 25 degrees centigrade (in late October) and all I wanted to do was enjoy an ice cream sundae in one of the eateries around the square and watch the world go by.
This is a town that has been visited on several occasions by the UK’s King Charles III and he owns property nearby. I’m not surprised he has invested here as I’m sure he and Queen Consort Camilla would hardly be recognised ambling around the cobbled streets and would be pretty much left to their own devices, just like my good self.
A bust of Vlad is just off the main square and the house in which he was born is now a restaurant. It is a mustard yellow, which was a little disappointing as I was hoping it would be blood red, or at least a striking crimson.
Sighisoara also celebrates two notable figures: the chronicler, Georgius Krauss, who wrote a history of Transylvania, and the Hungarian poet, Petofi Sandor.
Neither meant anything to me; East European literature not featuring at any juncture of my education, but I’ve learned Sandor was a revolutionary and is highly revered in many countries in Eastern Europe. (Google him at your leisure.)
Arched gateways are a reminder that this was once a walled town and the towers are the responsibility of local guilds. On seeing the tower maintained by the shoemaker’s guild a fellow traveller remarked. ‘Oh, what a darling little tower,’ and I couldn’t help but laugh at her choice of adjective however apt it might be.
In fact, the old town of Sighisoara could be described as “darling”, whereas the new is a throwback to communist rule with its plain, square apartment blocks above commercial outlets. Driving through the latter to reach the former is a reminder of Romania’s diverse past, but the surrounding countryside is glorious, with verdant green fields, rose lined village streets, hidden villages with church spires and houses of different hues. Transylvania has rich, lush land where maize, wheat and sunflowers grow in abundance, although the harvest was well and truly gathered when I was there.
The gardens of individual houses are walled off from the streets and I noticed many had grape vines growing on trellises which encouraged me to try Romanian Chardonnay. It is delicious! Truly delicious, and fortunately my local off-licence sells it. I can only say give it a go, and let’s put Romanian wines on the epicurean map.
Sighisoara may be the birthplace of one of the most murderous men in history, but to me it will be where I discovered the delights of Romanian wine, cobbled laneways, warm autumnal afternoons and if there is ever a reason to return, one of those is as good as any!
Please read my other blogs on Romania to discover more about Dracula, Vlad and gastronomic delights.