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 town located in Mureș (German: Mieresch) county from eastern Transylvania, Romania. The well preserved town 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 and Central Europe.

Central Sighișoara/Schaßburg during wintertime. Image source:

The town 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 town consisting of Transylvanian Saxons (a German ethnic group that settled in Transylvania starting in the mid 12th century when they were given land by the kings of Hungary, the first such monarch being Géza II) left after the end of World War II as well as during communist times and continuously after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990.

The clock tower in Schäßburg (Romanian: Sighișoara), the tallest and best preserved medieval structure of the town which lies in the historic centre. Image source:

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).

The clock tower of the citadel. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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 (now King) Charles of Wales restored two houses in 2006 and also one of his most favourite touristic destinations in Romania, or Birthälm (Romanian: Biertan).

Sighișoara/Schaßburg, as it likely looked like back in the mid 19th century. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Schäßburg/Sighișoara is the only medieval citadel and citadel town still entirely inhabited in South-Eastern Europe. Furthermore, within the walls of the medieval stronghold lies the third largest Gothic-styled Evangelical Lutheran cathedral in the very same part of the European continent. During communist times, the economy of the town revolved much around textiles.

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.

Among the most significant touristic attractions, one must certainly visit the town centre, the Clock Tower (the tallest building in the town; known in German as ‘Der Stundturm’ and in Romanian as ‘Turnul cu ceas’), the Tailors’ Tower, the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral located on the town’s hilltop, the town hall (a former Hungarian castle) and, last but not least, the renowned Dracula house.

The town is also reputed for being the birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler, prince of Wallachia during the 15th century. Vlad the Impaler also has a bust which is situated in the proximity of the town hall.

Documentation sources and external links:

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4 Responses to Schäßburg – The Last Inhabited Medieval Citadel In South-Eastern Europe

  1. Looks to be worth a visit.

    • Victor Rouă says:

      Yes, indeed, it is. It is my most favourite Transylvanian town and I miss it so much. I’ve been there twice so far and I can’t wait to go there for a third time as soon as possible. If Sighișoara/Schäßburg would be a woman I would marry her, that’s what I told myself when I was younger. 😀

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