Founded by German craftsmen and merchants known as the Saxons of Transylvania, Sighisoara is a fine example of a small, fortified medieval town that played an important strategic and commercial role on the fringes of central Europe for several centuries. The city, which lies in the heart of Transylvania, developed on a plateau and is dominated by a hill overlooking a bend in the river Tirnava.
In the 13th century, German craftsmen and merchants, known as Saxons, were ordered by the Hungarian sovereigns to colonize Transylvania and protect the border of the Carpathians against the steppe peoples. They settled on a hill, called the City Hill, which has revealed traces of occupation going back to the Palaeolithic period. Following incursions by the Tatars in 1241, the fortified settlement was reinforced with walls, guarded by towers, later extended to surround the entire plateau. The town, known in 1280 as Castrum Sex, developed commercial activities thanks to the powerful guilds of craftsmen. Each guild was responsible for the construction of a tower and the defence of that tower.
More about Sighisoara
The importance of the town was recognized in 1367 when it obtained the title 'Civitas' and became the second national political entity of Transylvania. Under pressure from the Turks between 1421 and 1526, the city heightened its walls. The historic centre of Sighisoara is composed of a fortified site spread over a steeply sloping plateau and dominated by City Hill, and the Lower Town with its woody slopes lying below. These two sectors form an indissociable group corresponding to the historic boundaries of the medieval town. Apart from 19th century settlements, the historic centre of Sighisoara has kept its original medieval urban fabric with its detailed allotment of building plots, as well as its network of narrow streets lined with closely-aligned rows of houses.