Sibiu, Europe's 8th most idyllic place to live
Named Hermannstadt in German and Nagyszeben in Hungarian, the city has a population of 155,000.
Formerly the centre of the Transylvanian Saxons, the old city of Sibiu was ranked as "Europe's 8th most idyllic place to live" by Forbes.
It was founded in12th century by Germans. In the 14th century, it was already an important trade center. In 1376, the craftsmen were divided in 19 guilds. Sibiu became the most important ethnic German city among the seven cities that gave Transylvania its German name Siebenbürgen (literally seven cities), and it was home to the Universitas Saxorum, the assembly of Germans in Transylvania. Common opinion in the 17th century ascribed Sibiu the quality of being the easternmost city to be part of the European sphere.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the city became the second and later the first most important center of Transylvanian Romanian ethnics.
After World War I, when Austria-Hungary was dissolved, Sibiu became part of Romania; the majority of its population was still ethnic German (until 1941) and counted a large Romanian community, as well as a small Hungarian one. Starting from the 1950s and until after 1990, most of the city's ethnic Germans emigrated to Germany. Among the roughly 2,000 who have remained is Klaus Johannis, who is currently mayor of Sibiu City.
Sibiu is one of the most prosperous cities of Romania, and also receives one of the highest rates of foreign investment in the country.
Sibiu is one of the cities with the richest architectural heritage in Transylvania and Romania.
The most defining elements are the two squares, the Grand Square and the Lesser Square, communicating through a passage under the Council Tower (13th century). On the Grand Square is the imposing Brukental Palace, hosting the oldest museum in Romania and one of most important. The city is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral (14th century-1520 with its tower rising 73 m. From this church, the picturesque "Stairs Passage" descends to the Lower City.
At the city's southern limit is Dumbrava Sibiului ("Sibiu's" Forest), a natural reserve hosting Romania's largest open air museum, Astra, dedicated to Traditional Folk Civilization. Over 300 houses and other buildings are situated in the forest around two artificial lakes with over 10 km of walkways between them.
Around Sibiu there are localities with medieval monuments, the finest being the town of Cisnădie and the village Cisnădioara. More to the south are the Cindrel Mountains with Păltiniș resort, the magnificent Defile of Olt and the Făgăraș Mountains.
First picture: Klaus Iohannis, the German Saxon major of Sibiu. President of Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania, party that dominates the city council of Sibiu although the Romanians makes up 96% and Germans oly 1,1%. He was elected major in 2000 with 69,18%, in 2004 with 88,7% and in 2008 with 83,2%.