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A bucket list of Transylvania’s cities has those three on it: Sibiu-Sighișoara-Sovata. We love out “S”es! Sibiu is the eyes of Transylvania, with its panoramic views, its squares and city center, big on culture, yet small enough not to feel clustered or crowded. With Sibiu the eyes, Sighișoara is the heart: the medieval still beating and inhabited heart, with its aorta, the clock tower, proving time and again that what’s build with love, care, skills and an appreciation for order, things well done and well thought, will never disappear, go wrong, out of fashion or history. Sovata is the place to come and let it all sink in and relax. The water will do most of the work for you.
In the morning
Stop at: Slimnic citadel
A military and defensive fortress build to protect and survey the road connecting two of Transylvania medieval flourished citadels: Sibiu and Medias. First time mentioned in 13th century during the great Mongol invasion, the 12-18 m high and 3.4-4 m thick walls couldn’t be conquered by the Turks in 15th century and had their share of assault, invasions, fire, plague epidemics, while managing to protect and shelter its villages and still survive to tell the story.
Stop at: Saroș pe Târnave fortified church
The history of this village, its inhabitants and the church is the history if Never Giving Up: their Gothic 14th century church was attacked and destroyed by the Turks; a century later it was rebuild and fortified with walls and five watchtowers; only for it to be attacked, burned to the ground in 17th century, with only five families left to live; renovated in 18th century, burned again due to a fire, then a lighting strike and renovated each time again and again. No wonder the remaining local Saxon community take such pride and care of their cultural landmark.
Stop at: The Armenian Church of Dumbrăveni
Colonized by Michael Apafi I in 17th century in Dumbrăveni and Gherla town, the Armenians were diligent householders and skilled merchants. After receiving several privileges, in the 18th century they received the town of Dumbrăveni in administration, building schools, a court house, a prison and impressive Armenian cathedral. Build in 17 years, the 18th century Baroque style church with granite and brick has an unusual aspect: a dome on one of its towers is missing, destroyed by a storm in 1927.
Stop at: Praid salt mine
The largest underground salt mine in Romania and one of the largest in Europe, the Praid salt mine is visited by over 200 000 tourists every year for its curative respiratory healing salty air. From two months old to 85 grandpas they want and need the salty air in their lungs for a minimum of 4 hours.
The Romans may have discovered it first, but by mid XVIII century salt was being dig up in Praid at big scale with a few perks for the Hungarian local population, packed in buffalo skins and pulled to the surface by a “extraction machinery” operated by horse power.
Stop at: Sovata resort
Give Sovata and its lakes a try if you find your disease on this list: gynecological (ovarian failure, chronic cervicitis, chronic metralpingitis, sterility); degenerative, inflammatory and rheumatic diseases (cervical, dorsal and lumbar spondylosis, arthrosis, polyarthrosis, joint pain, tendonitis); post-traumatic conditions (broken bones, dislocations and sprains); diseases of the peripheral nervous system (mild paresis, sequelae of polio, polyneuritis); endocrine disorders (hypothyroidism, following endocrinological treatment), cardiovascular disease (ulcers, acrocyanosis).
We will spend the night in Sovata.
Stop at: Corund village
Forget Ikea. This is the place to buy dishware. Ceramic hand painted pottery, cheap, beautiful and unique, you can hang them on the wall, impress your dinner guests and cook the tastiest meals. Owning a Corund pot is the trademark to a good cook.
Stop at: Sighișoara medieval city
The best preserved inhabited medieval Saxon city, held an important strategic and commercial role in central Europe for many centuries. Also the presumed birthplace of Vlad Dracul made famous by Bram Stoker’s book and cinema. A city much loved by tourist with its main attractions: the 13th century, 64m high clock tower, the weapon museum, the covered all stone staircase, the church on the hill and the old gothic cemetery.
Stop at: Biertan fortified church
Vying for the town status, competing with Moșna and Mediaș, the people of Biertan expanded their 14th century basilica into an impressive hall church. They didn’t win town status, but did leave behind one of the most beautiful existing fortified churches, surrounded by three circular walls and eight towers. In their memory and to celebrate its history and traditions, every third Saturday of September Biertan becomes ’Sachsentreffen’, the meeting place of Saxons everywhere; something that shouldn’t be missed.