25 Aug

Sibiu’s main square with the Catholic Cathedral, Romania

15 years ago I descended from a cold train in a crisp morning in Sibiu, known also by its Saxon name as Hermanstadt, and I was welcomed by a town that was barely awaken from the Communist amnesia. A dusty square with beautiful but peeling buildings surrounded by stores that sold brooms and knitted pullovers, trinkets, chemicals and pails with most of the stores closed. I went to have breakfast in a place that looked unchanged for the last 50 years with rickety and unconformable chairs, the same ones you could find in any place in the country. The main difference to its unfortunate past was that it sold real coffee and some warm pastries. On top of the stores’ doors were hanging the same signs that were prevalent at the time making the place indistinct. But in spite of its unkept look when I strolled through the old town, through its squares and streets aligned with the Saxon style houses, the city emanated an air of hominess of a close knit society, through an architecture that at every corner was telling you that the city may be beautiful but you just cannot see it for the moment.
Fast forward 15 years, I walked in the evening in the main square of a town that I was just barely able to recognize. It took me a while to remember and locate the buildings and make sense of what I was seeing. Lit like a theater stage, the today Sibiu looks and feel like any city in Europe but in addition it preserved this sense of hominess that I could feel a while ago. The pedestrian area is aligned with restaurants with menus of traditional Romanian dishes, elegant wine bars, beer places with no loud or tacky music and coffee places where youth are hanging out all in an atmosphere of impeccable taste that you rarely find in many other cities in Romania. The stores look all new selling meaningful things for the people strolling the city center: fashion, phones, music, wine, food, travel, etc. In the main square there are at least 3 stalls selling ice cream, beside lots of other stores that were organized for a medieval fair. The Sibiu theater festival was advertising its shows rolling through the square a butaforic horse under sounds of Wagner. The buildings are impeccably renovated, like it was done sometime last week, extolling their architectural features and the main squares are alive till midnight with tourists and local enjoying a night out. It’s so nice that you feel guilty to go to the hotel and you rather walk the cobble stones streets all lit like in the middle of the day.


The small square, Sibiu, Romania

The current president of Romania, a Saxon, Klaus Johannis, was elected three times mayor of Sibiu. He put a lot of effort and brought the town from its sleepy state to become the cultural capital of Europe in 2007. His success in revamping the city was a token of appreciation that promoted him to the top of the candidates for presidency of Romania in the hope that he would be able to do for the country what he did for his city. Two years in his mandate everybody still hopes…

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Posted by on August 25, 2016 in Blog, Romania


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