Being Bold, Climbing A Rare Medieval Council Tower, Bewitching Sibiu

Join me in climbing the seven floors of medieval Council Tower of bewitching Sibiu, located in the heart of Transylvania. We’ll squeeze our shoulders and bow to history as we’ll make our way up, up, up, but slowly, along a narrow spiraling stone staircase. We’ll pause to gather our wits and breath deeply before climbing further up on the suspended wooden stairs, all the way to the top!

First, a Gate Tower watching over the 2nd fortified wall of Hermannstadt (Sibiu)

medieval Council Tower Sibiu
The Council Tower of Sibiu, a man-made border between the Small Square and the Big Square.

On entering the Council Tower the narrow, arched entrance door located in the Small Square is warning enough. It dates from the 13th century. See the foot of the spiraling stone staircase? Well, then, let’s begin our ascend.

As soon as I set foot on the narrow stone staircase a gust of wind ran past me. I felt a hand pushing the small of my back and, just as quickly, it was gone. The chilled coil went past, then ahead of me. And gone. A shiver stroke my spine and a sense of foreboding enveloped me. The ancient tower seemed to hold its secrets close, guarding them with a stoic silence. I was glad for the gray daylight sliding through for a flickering candlelight would have barely illuminated the winding path ahead. Already eerie shadows were cast on the worn steps beneath my feet.

The STAIRS spiraling and climbing to the top of Council Tower of Sibiu

Sibiu medieval walls Council Tower Turnul Stafului.jpg

No wonder the walls are to thick, this was once the second fortification belt of the medieval fortress of Cibin, later known as Hermannstadt, today Sibiu.

The staircase feels closed and gloomy. A fickle reminder that this place was once a prison. Narrow slits for windows let in a trickle of light:

Council Tower Sibiu spiral staircase slit window

The air grew stale and heavy, carrying with it the musty scent of centuries past. It mingled with the faint smell of dampness, reminding me of the tower’s endurance against the test of time. Each step I took reverberated through the stone walls, echoing the whispers of forgotten tales and untold sorrows.

Be careful on looking over your shoulder. And don’t look down:

Council Tower Sibiu spiral staircase looking down

As we ascend, the world below fades away, consumed by the allure of the unknown. Better not look down:

spiral staircase Council Tower Sibiu
Dizzying: spiral staircase Council Tower Sibiu

At last, the entrance to the first floor landing:

As I continue my ascent so the anticipation grows, mingled with a hint of trepidation. What hidden truths await at the tower’s peak? What forgotten knowledge lays dormant within its walls? The climb is both a physical and metaphorical journey, an exploration of the shadows that dance at the edges of perception.

But we’re not done yet. Further up we go:

up up up the medieval Council Tower Sibiu

With every step, the tower seemed to draw me deeper into its enigmatic embrace. The weight of its history pressed upon me, as if the walls themselves were alive with the echoes of bygone days. The secrets whispered within these ancient stones begged to be unveiled, their mysteries tantalizing yet elusive.

Amongst the wooden beams and weathered planks my eyes were drawn to a narrow wooden ladder tucked away in a corner. It reached upward, beckoning me further into the unknown. The ladder’s worn rungs, protesting with each movement, and the uncertainty of what lay beyond created a mix of trepidation and curiosity.

Council Tower wooden stairs to the top
Council Tower wooden stairs to the top

As I reached the next landing the atmosphere shifted. The stone walls gave way to a wooden enclosure, and the scent of aged timber filled the air. Each step I took was accompanied by the creaking protest of floorboards beneath my weight, as if the tower itself whispered its age-old secrets.

Light and Shadows

Peeking through slit WINDOWS nestles in the thick walls of Council Tower Sibiu:

Taking a peek at the Small Square and the Shoemakers’ Passage – remember the stroll we took through that old, narrow place (with video)?

Peaking from Council Tower to Small Squsre and Showmakers Passage

And higher:

Council Tower Sibiu narrow slit window, panoramic view
Council Tower Sibiu narrow slit window, panoramic view

Through the narrow slit windows I caught fleeting glimpses of the world beyond the tower. The city sprawled beneath, its red rooftops contrasting against the twilight sky. The winding streets, like a maze of hidden passages, held the stories of countless lives—tales of joy, pain, and the eternal pursuit of hope.

over the rooftops of Sibiu
over the rooftops of Sibiu

The walls that surrounded us tower high above, their thickness a testament to the fortress-like nature of this ancient structure. Deep-set windows offer a glimpse of the outside world, revealing the sturdy construction of the tower, with layers upon layers of stone that stood as a formidable barrier against the passage of time.

narrowest slit window view Sibiu

Extra thick walls. No way out:

The clock mechanism, since 1494, for those who love to tinker is visible on the 6th floor through the haze of time:

15 cent clock mechanism Sibiu

A Grand Vista over Sibiu

Finally, we climbed where the eagles nest. The 7th floor of the Council Tower offers a panoramic view over Sibiu:

Christmas lights in Big Square Sibiu view Council  Tower
Christmas lights and Christmas Market in Big Square Sibiu, a view the top of the Council Tower
view Council Tower over Big Square Sibiu
View from the Council Tower over the Big Square, opening towards the right
view of Evangelical Church from Council Tower Sibiu
View of Evangelical Church from Council Tower Sibiu

More postcard views of spellbinding, medieval Sibiu from the top of the Council Tower:

view of Evangelical Church Huet Square Small Square Bridge Lies from Council Tower Sibiu
view of Evangelical Church in Huet Square, Small Square in the front, Bridge Lies at the right, far back – as seen from Council Tower Sibiu

And a close-up of the legendary Bridge of Lies, Sibiu:

Bridge of Lies views from top Council Tower

Down the Memory Lane: Once a Firehouse and a Grain Warehouse

From the original Council Tower only the base, up to the first floor:

medieval original 1st floor Council Tower Sibiu
medieval original 1st floor in Council Tower Sibiu

…withstood the challenges time. After Turkish attacks:

Sibiu attacked by Turkish cannons damaged fortification

… a devastating earthquake shook the Council Tower nearly to the ground. Only part of it still stood:

Council Tower stone floor landing
Council Tower medievalstone floor landing

It was 1588. Rebuilding the tower, supported by the people of Sibiu, was completed in 1588 (inscribed on a plaque on the Small Square side of the tower).

Memories still live in the confines of the tower, surrounded by the echoes of time, the cries of women accused of witchcraft and judged in the Great Square nearby, and then the Renascence anticipation of discoveries. Silent witnesses to the history of Sibiu.

The Zeppelin LZ127 flew over Sibiu twice: in 1909, flown by Prince Frederick or Prussia, and in 1929 (below):

Sibiu Zepellin overCouncil Tower photo E Fischer Brukenthal Museum

“The Graf Zeppelin passed over Sibiu. On Wednesday at 5:40 a.m., the famous Zeppelin, which circled the world, passed over our city. The master bird dropped quite low over the square of Sibiu, where thousands of people were waiting. The travelers responded to the greeting of the Sibians, fluttering the Romanian tricolor”.

Foaia Poporului (People’s Paper), October 20, 1929

The old tramway of Sibiu (1905 – 2011) once rode past it.

Today, it is an Original Museum Affording a Grand Vista over Sibiu

Climb where the eagles nest.

Council Tower Sibiu view Small Square Big Square Patricia Furstenberg

Above: the Medieval Council Tower of Sibiu as seen from the Small Square (left) and the Big Square (right) with its unmistakable granite pavement since 1874.

The Council Tower of Sibiu was raised at the same time with the second belt of fortifications, between 1224 – 1241, after the Mongol Invasion that almost burned Sibiu to the ground. It was built glued to the house where the members of Sibiu’s Council would meet. The gate it guards (today a mere passage) was known as the Council Tower’s Gate.

Council Tower Sibiu metallic flag 1824

The tower’s main purpose was of observation and defense.
Initially the tower had a pyramidal roof with four small turrets, symbol of the city’s right of applying the capital punishment. That roof was demolished and the roof we see today dates from 1824 (inscribed on the metallic flag at the top). It was an observation tower, helping the firemen of Sibiu to keep an eye on any unforeseen infernos.

Lost in this labyrinthine tower, surrounded by its timeless presence, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and reverence. The weight of history bore down upon me, inviting me to unravel the mysteries that lay within its depths. The journey was just beginning while the secrets of the tower awaited, ready to reveal themselves to those bold enough to seek them, as I did in my latest book:

Dreamland, book of stories legends Sibiu Transylvania

15 Replies to “Being Bold, Climbing A Rare Medieval Council Tower, Bewitching Sibiu”

  1. What a great building with so much history. I love the views from the top and it’s beauty from streetview. Maggie

  2. There are two different faces to the building as well. I prefer the first one, where the entrance is, facing the Small Square.
    Thank you for visiting, Maggie.

  3. Traveling with you must be a real treat. Even the most mundane activity – like climbing a flight of stairs – is a story. I love that!

  4. Thank you for this wonderful guided tour of Sibiu Medieval Council Tower. The views from the top are stunning!

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