Schäßburg – The Last Inhabited Medieval Citadel In South-Eastern Europe
Schäßburg (Romanian: Sighișoara; also known in the Transylvanian Saxon dialect as Schäsbrich or Šesburχ, in Old Hungarian as Segusvar, in Hungarian as Segesvár and in Latin as Saxoburgum or Castrum Sex) is a medieval citadel located in Mureș (Mieresch) county from eastern Transylvania, Romania. The well preserved city centre of Schäßurg has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and its picturesque architecture might very likely remind you of some of the most illustrious medieval fortifications in Western Europe.
The city of Schäßburg numbers now less than 30,000 permanent residents, out of which the vast majority are Romanians. The once predominant German speaking community of the city consisting of the Transylvanian Saxons (a German ethnic group that settled in Transylvania in the 12th century when they were given land by the kings of Hungary) left after the end of World War II as well as during Communist times and after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990.
One of the best preserved medieval landmarks in Transylvania and also in Europe, Schäßburg is part of the Transylvanian Saxon heritage in Romania together with 6 other major Transylvanian Saxon fortified cities, namely Kronstadt (Romanian: Brașov), Klausenburg (Romanian: Cluj-Napoca), Hermannstadt (Romanian: Sibiu), Bistritz (Romanian: Bistrița), Mediasch (Romanian: Mediaș) and Mühlbach (Romanian: Sebeș).
There are as well additional Saxon villages and fortified churches that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since the early 1990s, the most well known being Weißkirch (Romanian: Viscri), the place where Prince Charles of Wales restored two houses in 2006 and also one of his most favourite touristic destinations in Romania, or Birthälm (Romanian: Biertan).
Schäßburg is the only medieval citadel still entirely inhabited in South-Eastern Europe. Furthermore, within the walls of the medieval stronghold lies the third largest Gothic-styled Lutheran cathedral in the very same part of the European continent.
Being established by the Transylvanian Saxons during the late part of the 13th century, the citadel features authentic medieval German structures with a very colourful architecture and some sights that will doubtlessly captivate you.