Do you ever find yourself in places that seem to teleport you back in time? In Romania, this happens to me all the time. Medieval constructions are spread across my country like a constellation of stars. Visiting them can make one feel like a Game of Thrones character, almost wishing that a dragon would swoosh across the sky. There is one place in particular that made time travel seem so easy, the medieval city of Sighişoara. Every year, for the past 25 years, the locals have been hosting the Sighişoara Medieval Festival during the last weekend of July. They immerse themselves into medieval characters, having battles and feasts, taking the visitors on a medieval journey through the city’s streets.
Wherever you look, Sighişoara surprises you with medieval elements. The narrow alleys are filled with quaint houses, all neatly lined along roads paved with setts. Only by walking these roads can one realize why Sighişoara is viewed as one of the top well-preserved medieval cities in Europe. The citadel of Sighișoara and its Clock Tower are the most visited attractions in the area, gathering curious eyes throughout the day. The Clock Tower has wooden figurines which change during the week, there being one figurine to represent each day. The builders of the figurines made sure that each time these figurines move, the viewers are reminded of the longevity of this gorgeous medieval city.
Another thing that is truly special about Sighişoara is the fact that it’s among the few inhabited fortress-cities of the world. Over 150 houses, which are over 300 years old, are lived in, many of them being hotels or guesthouses. This is really fortunate in the summer when the medieval festival takes place because visitors can lodge right in the heart of the festival.
Today, the medieval festival of Sighişoara draws the attention of visitors from all over Europe and much more, yet the people who started all of this could have never imagined such an outcome. They were thirteen young people who wished to perform on the streets in the medieval fortresses. These artists wanted to make a living by offering glimpses into the past. If, in the beginning, it was all about song and dance, today’s festival incorporates much more than that. The costumed medieval musicians and dancers are so many that, during the festival, the past seems to overtake the present. It is as if Sighişoara turns into a Comic-Con event, the best and most creative medieval outfits standing on display. Visitors are encouraged to dress according to the Middle Ages fashion trends and to join the fun. Each year, there are sword fights, poetry readings, medieval cooking, story-telling, picture and weapon exhibitions, and much more.
If this all sounds wonderful to you, wait to hear about another thing the festival is famous for. The organizers of the event wanted to set three records, worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015. They made a 4.5 meter-high sword, the biggest sword built at a medieval festival. Furthermore, they created the biggest medieval festival flag (30 m long and 5 m wide) and the world’s largest round bagel, made with 100 kg of flour. It is not unlikely that there will be such record-breaking ideas implemented in the future as well.
Once you set foot in the city of Sighişoara, you will realize that the past isn't only distant history after all. Friendly people, great music, and ancient traditions await those who want to witness time travel made easy. The Sighişoara Medieval Festival is at its 26th edition in 2019 and will take place between the 26th and 28th of July. Get your medieval costume and take part in the yearly festivities that are so adored by many. Surely, you will come to adore them too.
Cover picture © Credit to: istock/ mladensky
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