Time in Romanian Folktales and Schrödinger’s Cat

Time in Romanian Folktales and Schrodinger's Cat

Recently I re-read one of best known Romanian folktales, Youth Without Age and Life Without Death, and something about the way time unfolds jabbed at my mind, yet only when I remembered Schrödinger’s Cat did it all fall into place.

What is Youth Without Age and Life Without Death about?

In a tiny nutshell, Youth Without Age and Life Without Death tells the story of a young prince who chose to leave his parents and kingdom to pursue a quest. What he seeks is what was promised to him before birth: eternal youth and a life without death. Of course he faces numerous trials but he also finds that what he searched for. And together with a lovely young woman lives the eternal youth he was born for, forgetting all about the life and the world he left behind.

Until one day… I won’t tell you how… when he suddenly remembers his past and his family. And as a heavy longing struck him he just has to go back and see them all one more time – although he is warned not to do it.

As he chases on his magic horse back to his native land he is amazed to discover how much the scenery changed and how the adventures he lived only yesterday are fairy-tales to those he meets along the road. And as he approaches the land of his birth he also ages at an alarming rate…

I do think there is a dual time lapsing in Youth Without Age and Life Without Death. While time passed at a normal rate for the humans left behind and actually the entire humankind, time stands still (or at least barely moves forward) for the hero once he finds himself in the land of everlasting youth.

And yet the two time zones are concurrent.

time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger's Cat
Time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger’s Cat

The time in Romanian folktale Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

The time that passed while the hero was away in his quest, away from family and the places where he was born, is indicative of his journey. A quest and a journey of initiation nevertheless. This time is measurable and irreversible for those he left behind, while his quest takes place in a different time, almost a parallel time, where the known means of time passing do not apply. Here, in this forever youthful land, the idea of time is simply erased or at least slowed down dramatically.

So how can the real time and the quest time be concurrent in fairy-tales and folk tales – and not mess with the story’s timeline?

Perhaps looking at the dual time continuum in fairy tales as a type of Schrodinger’s Cat experiment will save this writer’s sanity.

Time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger's Cat
Time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger’s Cat

What is Schrödinger’s Cat?

Just a note. No cats have ever been harmed during Schrödinger’s Cat experiment as this is a theoretical experiment and not a real one. It is a Thought Experiment, a Gedanken Experiment. An experiment one can only think of but never do in practice.

Schrödinger‘s Cat experiment was created as a visual teaching tool to illustrate how some people misinterpreted the quantum theory. But we won’t go that way.

I’ll describe the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment then I’ll explain how it illustrates the dual time lapsing in folk tales.

In his imaginary experiment Schrödinger places in a metal box fitted with a lock:

  • a cat;
  • a tiny bit of radioactive substance that is contained by a tiny vessel. Now here you can choose the quantity of the radioactive substance so that you know it will contain only a certain number of atoms because you want to have the possibility that after a certain amount of time (say one hour) there will be a 50/50 possibility that one of these atoms might decay radioactively and release particles;
  • a tiny Geiger counter – this instrument can detect if the radioactive release took place;
  • a tiny hammer connected both to the Geiger counter and to
  • a tiny glass vial containing cyanide.

The idea is that when / if the radioactive substance decays, it will triggers a Geiger counter which will cause the hammer to break the glass container releasing the poison that will kill the cat.

Or not.

The idea is also that one cannot know the outcome of the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment until one opens the box.

BECAUSE

Something can have both an absurd and a logical outcome. If you have something that can exist in two possible states the two states could be muddled together so you can’t say which is which.

Schrödinger's Cat
Schrödinger’s Cat – source

OR, considering the TIME in the Youth Without Age and Life Without Death folktale, TIME can exist in two different states or pass at two different rates at the same time.

In the metal box, during the time of one hour that it remains locked, there is a chance that radioactive decay might take place. But we cannot predict if it will or not and cannot tell if it did or not until we open the box. / The folktale hero, since he is still a human, might grow old during the time he spends away from his birth place but we cannot tell until he returns to his place of birth.

What is the state of the cat before opening the box? / What is the age of the folktale hero during the time spent in the land of forever youth?

The hero of the Romanian folktale Youth Without Age and Life Without Death, since he was born in a normal human timezone, will be affected by the passing of time as we know it. At the same time, the hero finds himself in a miraculous place ruled by a different clock and is also affected by it – he does not grow old. So, at the same time, he is old if you count the years passed on his birth clock and he remains young, based on the clock the miraculous world is ruled by.

And we have no way of knowing what the hero’s age is.

The conclusion of Schrödinger’s Cat theoretical experiment is that the cat is in a superposition of state of being both alive and dead.

The conclusion (at least mine) of the hero in Youth Without Age and Life Without Death is that he is in a superposition state of being both young and old / young and dead.

What are your thoughts on Schrödinger‘s Cat and Youth Without Age and Life Without Death?

As always, a gentle reminder to check my book on Amazon or Loot (if you reside in South Africa).

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Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 3

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 3

If you enjoyed the Romanian folktale Emperor Aleodor , the first part and the second part of Youth Without Age and Life Without Death do find out how it al ends below.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 3

The prince spent a very long time at the palace without being aware of it, for he always remained just as young as he was when he arrived. He wandered about the woods without ever having a headache. He amused himself in the golden palace, lived in peace and quiet with his wife and her sisters, enjoyed the beauty of the flowers, and the sweet, pure air. He often went hunting; but one day, while pursuing a hare, he shot two arrows at it without hitting the animal. Angrily chasing it he discharged a third arrow, which struck it, but in his haste the luckless man had not noticed that he had passed through the Valley of Sighs while following the game.

He picked it up and turned toward home, but was suddenly seized with a longing for his father and mother. He did not venture to speak of this wish to his wife, yet by his grief and restlessness both she and her sisters instantly perceived his condition.

“Oh! luckless prince, you have passed through the Valley of Sighs,” they said in terror.

“I did so, my dear ones, without meaning to be so imprudent, but now the longing to see my parents is killing me! Yet I can not forsake you. I have already spent several days with you and have no cause to complain. So I’ll go and see my parents once more, and then come back to you, never to leave you again.”

“Do not quit us, beloved prince! Your parents died two or three hundred years ago, and if you go, we fear you yourself will never return; stay with us, for a presentiment of evil tells us that you will perish!”

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 3

All the entreaties of the three ladies, as well as those of the horse, were unable to quiet the young hero’s longing for his parents, which was fairly consuming him alive.

At last the horse said: “If you don’t listen to me, master, whatever happens to you will be your own fault. I’ll tell you something, and if you accept my condition, I’ll take you back.”

“I’ll accept it with many thanks,” replied the prince; “let me hear it.”

“As soon as you reach your father’s palace you will dismount, but I am to return alone in case you stay even an hour.”

“Be it so,” the prince agreed.

They made their preparations for the journey, the prince embraced the ladies and after having bade them farewell he rode away, but they sobbed and wept bitterly when he left them.

They reached the country which had once been the kingdom of the Scorpion Witch, but found cities there; the woods had become fields; the prince questioned one person and another about the Scorpion Witch and her house, but they answered that their grandfathers had heard from their great, great grandfathers that such silly tales had once been told.

“How is that possible!” replied the prince, “I came through this region myself only a short time ago,” and he told them all he knew.

The people laughed at him as if he were a lunatic or a person talking in his sleep, and the prince angrily rode on without noticing that his hair and beard were growing white.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 3

When he reached the realm of the Woodpecker Fairy, the same questions and answers were exchanged. The prince could not understand how these places had altered so much in a few days, and again rode angrily on. He now had a white beard that reached to his waist, and he felt as if his feet were beginning to tremble.

Quitting this country he arrived in his father’s empire. Here he found new people, new towns, and every thing so much changed that he could not recognize it. At last he came to the palace where he was born. When he dismounted, the horse kissed his hand, and said:

“I wish you good health, master, I’m going back to the place from which I came. If you want to go too, mount quickly, and we’ll be off.”

“Farewell, I too hope to return soon.”

The horse darted away with the speed of an arrow.

When the prince saw the ruined palace and the weeds growing around it, he sighed deeply and with tears in his eyes tried to remember how magnificent these places had once been. He walked around the building two or three times, tried to recollect how every room, every corner had looked, found the stable where he had discovered the horse, and then went down into the cellar, whose entrance was choked up with fallen rubbish.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 3

He groped hither and thither, holding up his eyelids with his hands, and scarcely able to totter along, while his snowy beard now fell to his knees, but found nothing except a dilapidated old chest, which he opened. It seemed empty, but as he raised the lid a voice from the bottom said: “Welcome, if you had kept me waiting much longer, I too should have gone to decay.”

Then his death, which had become completely shriveled in the chest, seized him; but the prince fell lifeless on the ground and instantly crumbled into dust.

Into the saddle then I sprung, The tale to tell to old and young.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Tinerete Fara de Batranete si Viata Fara de Moarte) is a Romanian folktale discovered by Petre Ispirescu, Romanian editor, folklorist, printer and publicist, and first published in 1862 in local newspaper Țăranul român (Romanian Peasant).

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Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 2

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

If you enjoyed the Romanian folktale Emperor Aleodor and the first part of Youth Without Age and Life Without Death do read further.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 2

On the morning of the third day there was great mourning throughout the whole court and empire.

The handsome prince, clad like a hero, holding his sword in his hand and riding the horse he had chosen, took leave of the emperor, the empress, the great nobles and lesser grandees, the army, and all the attendants who, with tears in their eyes, implored him to give up the journey and not risk his life. Yet setting spurs to his steed, he dashed through the gate like the wind, followed by carts loaded with provisions and money, and the two hundred horsemen the emperor had commanded to accompany him.

After reaching the boundaries of his father’s country and arriving at the wilderness the prince distributed all his property among the escort, bade them farewell, and sent them back, keeping for himself only as much food as his horse could carry. Then he turned toward the east and rode for three days and three nights, till he came to a wide plain where lay a great many human bones.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

When he stopped here to rest the horse said: “You must know, master, that we are on the land of a Woodpecker Witch who is so wicked that nobody can enter her domain without being murdered. She was once a woman, but the curse of her parents, whom she angered by her disobedience, turned her into a woodpecker. She is with her children now, but you will meet her tomorrow in yonder forest. She will come to kill you. She is terribly big, but don’t be frightened. Hold the bow ready to pierce her with an arrow and keep your sword and lance in hand, so that you can use them in case of need.”

Then they went to rest, taking turns in standing watch.

At dawn the next morning they prepared to pass through the forest. The prince saddled and bridled the horse, drew the girths tighter than usual, and mounted. Suddenly he heard a tremendous crashing. “Make ready, master,” said the horse, “the Woodpecker Witch is coming!”

As she approached, she moved so fast that she tore the trees down. But the horse leaped upward like the wind so that it was almost over her, and the prince shot off one of her feet with an arrow. But just as he was about to discharge the second arrow she cried:

“Stop, my young hero, I’ll do you no harm.” And seeing that he did not believe her, she gave him a promise written with her own blood.

“May your horse live long and prosper, my young hero,” she added, “for it is enchanted. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have roasted and eaten you. Know that until today no mortal has ventured to cross my boundaries as far as this. A few bold unruly who dared to make the trial reached the plain where you saw the sea of bones.”

They now went to the witch’s house where she entertained them as guests. But while sitting at the table enjoying the banquet, the Woodpecker Witch moaned with so much pain that the prince pulled out of his traveling bag the foot he had shot off and, fastened it on, it instantly healed. The hostess, in her joy, kept open house for three days and begged the emperor’s son to choose one of her three daughters for his wife, all as beautiful as fairies.

Yet he would not do that, but told her what he was truly seeking and she replied:

“With your horse and your heroic courage, I believe you will succeed.”

After three days had passed, the prince prepared to continue his journey and departed. He rode on, and on, and on. The road seemed to grow longer and longer, but when he had finally crossed the frontiers of the Woodpecker Witch’s kingdom, he entered a beautiful meadow, one side of which was covered with blooming plants, but the other was scorched.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ The road seemed to grow longer and longer

The prince asked why the grass was singed, and the horse answered:

“We are now in the domain of the Termagant Witch; she is the Woodpecker Witch’s sister, but they are both so wicked that they can’t live together. Their parents’ curse has fallen upon them, and so, as you see, they have become monsters. Their enmity goes beyond all bounds and they are always trying to get possession of each other’s lands. When this one is very angry she spits fire and pitch. She must have had some quarrel with her sister, and, to drive her out of her kingdom, has burned the grass on which she was standing. She is even worse than her sister, and has three heads. We will rest awhile now, and be ready at the first peep of dawn to-morrow.”

The next day they prepared themselves just as they did when they expected to meet the Woodpecker Witch, and set out. Soon they heard a howling and rustling unlike any thing ever known before.

“Make ready, master, the Termagant Witch is coming.”

The Termagant Witch, with one jaw in the sky and the other on the earth, approached like the wind, spitting fire as she came, but the horse darted upward as swiftly as an arrow and then rushed over her a little on one side. The hero then shot an arrow and one of her heads fell, but just s he was about to strike off another the Termagant Witch implored him to forgive her. She would do him no harm, she promised, and to convince him of this she gave him proof of her promise, written in her own blood.

Like the Woodpecker Witch before her the Termagant Witch entertained the prince, who, eventually, returned her head which grew on again, and at the end of three days he resumed his travels.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ they hurried on without resting till they came to a field covered with flowers, where reigned perpetual spring

When the hero and his horse reached the far boundaries of the Termagant Witch’s kingdom they hurried on without resting till they came to a field covered with flowers, where reigned perpetual spring. Every blossom was remarkably beautiful and filled with a sweet, intoxicating fragrance; a gentle breeze fanned them all. They remained here to rest when the horse said:

“We have succeed thus, master, but we still have one great peril to undergo and, if the Lord helps us to conquer it, we shall really be valiant heroes. A short distance further on is the palace where dwell Youth without Age and Life without Death. It is surrounded by a high, dense forest where roam all the wild animals in the world, guarding it day and night. They are very numerous,and it is almost beyond the bounds of possibility to get through the wood by fighting them. Thus we must try, if we can, to jump over them.”

After resting about two days they prepared to continue their journey and the horse, holding its breath, said:

“Buckle my girth as tight as you can and when you have mounted hold fast to my mane and press your feet close to my neck, that you may not hinder me.” The prince mounted, and in a moment they were nearing the forest.

“Master,” said the horse, “this is the time that the wild beasts are fed. They are all collected together. Now! We’ll jump over.”

“Forward,” replied the handsome prince, “and may the Lord have mercy on us.”

They flew upward and saw the palace, which glittered so that it would have been easier to look at the sun. They had passed over the forest when, just as they were descending towards the palace steps one of the horse’s hoofs lightly touched the top of a tree and put the whole woods in motion.

The wild animals began to howl till it was enough to make one’s hair bristle. The prince and his horse hastily alighted and, if the mistress of the palace had not been outside feeding her chickens (for that is what she called the wild beasts), they would certainly have been killed. She spared their lives out of pure pleasure, for she had never before seen a human being. Restraining the savage beasts she soothed them and sent them back to their haunts. She was a tall, slender, lovely fairy, quite too beautiful. And when the young hero saw her he stood still as though was turned to stone. But as she gazed at him she pitied him and said:

“Welcome, my handsome prince. What do you seek here?”

“We seek Youth without Age and Life without Death.”

When the prince dismounted from his horse and entered the palace to discover two other ladies, both of about the same age, the elder sisters of the first one.

The prince thank the fairy for having delivered him from danger when she and her sisters, to show their joy, had a handsome banquet served in golden dishes. They gave the horse liberty to graze wherever it chose, and afterward made it acquainted with all the wild beasts, so that it might rove about the forest in peace.

The ladies pleaded with the prince to stay with them saying that it was so tiresome to be alone. He did not wait to be asked a second time, but accepted the offer with the satisfaction of a man who has found precisely what he sought.

By degrees they became accustomed to live together. The prince told them his story and related what he had suffered before meeting them, and after some time he married the youngest sister. At their wedding permission was granted to him to go wherever he liked in the neighborhood. They only begged him not to enter one valley, which they pointed out to him, otherwise some misfortune would befall him. It was called, they said, the Valley of Sighs.

Do return tomorrow to find out how the story ends.

The Romanian term for wicked Woodpecker Witch is outstanding and reserved to it alone: Gheonoaie, deriving from Albanian Gjon “owl” and “woodpecker”.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Tinerete Fara de Batranete si Viata Fara de Moarte) is a Romanian folktale discovered by Petre Ispirescu, Romanian editor, folklorist, printer and publicist, and first published in 1862 in local newspaper Țăranul român (Romanian Peasant).

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Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

If you enjoyed the eerie feeling and local color of Romanian folktale Emperor Aleodor you will love reading Youth Without Age and Life Without Death. Enjoy it and remember, the magic of Romanian folktales starts with the first words.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 1

Once upon a time long, long before something happened whose likeliness never occurred before, for if it had not happened it could not be told. When the flea had one foot shod with ninety-nine pounds of iron and jumped into the glory of the sky to get us fairy stories… When the fly would write on the wall, a bigger liar being the one who doesn’t believe what he is told… 

There was once a mighty emperor and empress. Both were young and handsome, and as they desired the blessing of children they did every thing that was necessary to secure it, that is they went to the witches and philosophers and asked them to read the stars to find out whether they would have children or not.
But it was all in vain.
Finally the emperor heard that a very wise old man lived in a neighboring village, and sent for him. The messengers returned with the answer: “Let him who needs me come to me.” So the emperor and empress set out for the wise man’s house, taking with them several of their courtiers, attendants, and soldiers. When the old man saw them in the distance, he rose, went to meet them, and said at once:

in a land far away - Youth Age Life Death

“Welcome! But what do you want to know, oh, emperor, your wish will bring you sorrow.”

“I am not here to question you about that,” replied the emperor, “but to learn whether you have any plants you can give us that will bestow us the blessing of children.”

“I have,” the old man answered, “but you will possess only one child. He will be a handsome, lovable boy, yet you will not be able to keep him long.”

After the emperor and empress had obtained the herbs they joyfully returned to the palace. The whole empire, the courtiers, and all the attendants rejoiced too. But when the hour of birth came, the child began to scream in a way no magic arts could silence it. The emperor commenced to promise it all the good things the world contained, but it was impossible to quiet him.

“Hush, father’s pet,” said the emperor, “I will give you this or that kingdom. Hush, my son, I will give you this or that princess for your wife.” At last, when he saw the child would not stop, he added: “Hush, my boy, I will give you youth without age and life without death.”

Then the prince stopped crying and was born. The courtiers beat drums and blew trumpets, and there were great rejoicings throughout the empire for a whole week.

The older the boy grew, the more thoughtful and reflective he became, handsome too. He went to the schools and the philosophers and gained every kind of learning, so that the emperor died of joy and came to life again. The whole realm was proud of having a prince so wise and learned, a second King Solomon.

Then one day, when the lad had just reached his fifteenth year and the emperor sat at a banquet with the nobles and grandees of the country, the handsome prince rose, saying: “Father, the time has come, you must now give me what you promised at my birth!”

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death - party

When the emperor heard this he grew very sorrowful and answered: “Why, my son, how can I give you an impossible thing? If I promised it to you then, it was only to hush you.”

“If you can’t give it to me, father, I shall be obliged to wander through the whole world till I find what was promised to me, and for which I was born.”

Then all the nobles and the emperor fell at his feet and besought him not to quit the country, because, as the courtiers said, his father was growing old, and they would place him on the throne and give him the most beautiful princess under the sun for his wife. But it was impossible to shake his resolution, he remained as firm as a rock. After his father had seen and duly considered all these things, he gave his consent and prepared to supply the prince with provisions and whatever else he might need for his journey.

The young hero went to the imperial stables, where the finest steeds in the whole realm were standing, to choose one of them; but when he laid his hand on the horse’s tail he knocked it down, and so they all fell, one after another. At last, just as he was going out, he let his eyes wander around the stables once more and saw in one corner a sick, weak horse, covered with sores. He went up to it, and when he grasped it by the tail, the animal turned its head, saying:

“What do you command, my master? I thank God that He has permitted a hero’s hand to touch me once more.”

And, planting its feet firmly, it remained standing. The young prince told it what he intended to do, and the horse replied:

“To obtain your wish, you must ask your father for the sword, lance, bow, quiver of arrows, and garments he wore when a youth; but you must take care of me with your own hands for six weeks and give me oats boiled in milk.”

When the prince begged the emperor for the articles the horse had advised, the monarch called the palace chamberlain and ordered him to open all the chests of clothing, that his son might choose what he pleased.
The young hero, after rummaging them three whole days, at last found in the very bottom of an old trunk the weapons and garments his father had worn in his youth, but the arms were covered with rust. He set to work to clean them with his own hands and in six weeks, during the time he was taking care of the horse, he succeeded in making the weapons as bright and shining as a mirror.

When the horse heard from the handsome prince that the clothes and arms were cleaned and ready, it shook itself once. All the sores instantly fell off and there it stood, a strong, well-formed animal, with four wings. When the hero saw this, he said:

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death - magic horse

“We’ll go in three days!”

“May you have a long life, master. From to-day I shall be at your service,” the horse answered.

~ Return tomorrow for part 2 ~

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Tinerete Fara de Batranete si Viata Fara de Moarte) is a Romanian folktale discovered by Petre Ispirescu, Romanian editor, folklorist, printer and publicist, and first published in 1862 in local newspaper Țăranul român (Romanian Peasant).

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To Marvel at the Medieval Towers of Sighisoara Fortress

marvel medieval towers Sighisoara

Let’s further our historical journey and marvel at the medieval towers and walls of Upper City Sighisoara, the fortress, Vlad the Impaler‘s birth place. If we walk clockwise around the citadel’s defense wall or rampant, still 14 meters in height in some places, we’ll admire, in this order:

Sighisoara fortress - marvel medieval towers fortress. Tanners Tower

The Tanners’ Tower is one of the oldest, original towers dating back to the 13th – 14th centuries as it suggest its position too, retracted behind the wall. Its roof, slanted towards the inside of the fortress, suggests the same. It was built to guard and protect the courtyard of the Clock Tower nearby.

 Tanners' Tower Sighisoara, 13th - 14th century. marvel medieval towers fortress
Tanners Tower, Turnul Tabacarilor

The Tinsmiths’ Tower & bastion. At 25 m of height it has a specific shape: square at the base (the original foundation), then becomes pentagonal (probably late 15th century), and it ends octagonal at the top, while the roof has a hexagonal plan. It had one of the strongest defense systems of the Sighisoara fortress. One can still see the traces that Hungarian bullets left during the last siege, that of 1704.

The Tinsmiths' Tower & bastion, Sighisoara. Turnul Cositorilor. marvel medieval towers fortress
The Tinsmiths’ Tower & bastion with Riflemen’s Gallery – Turnul Cositorilor

Do you see the Rifle-men’s Gallery, adjacent to the Tinsmiths’ Tower – left side? It has a unique architecture in the Sighisoara fortress.

The Rope-makers Tower is high up on the hill and today houses the cemetery guard. But 200 years ago, the first family allowed to make a home here had to sound the church bells three times a day, at 7 am, at noon and 7 pm, and look after the cemetery.

Rope-makers Tower - Turnul Franghierilor
Rope-makers Tower – Turnul Franghierilor

The original fortress’ wall between the Rope-makers Tower and the Butchers’ Tower still stands. The Butchers’ Tower has a bastion as well and it dates from the 15th century. Initially, it was an octagonal prism, but during the 16th century, it was rebuilt on a hexagonal floor plan and raised to make it easier to defend the west side of the Citadel. For this reason alone, the Butcher’s Tower was armed with five arquebuses (a lighter type of musket and one of the first hand-guns with a trigger), and at least one cannon (as the cannonballs and gunpowder discovered here attest).

The Butchers' Tower. Medieval Sighsoara - Turnul Macelarilor
Butcher’s Tower – Turnul Macelarilor

Did you know that it was the Romans who discovered that towers made it easier to defend a walled fortress? Towers made it easy to give covering fire for the walls during an attack.

The Butchers’ Tower and the Furriers’ Tower saw many sheep a-counting while guarding the Törle gate in between. It was through here that each evening the shepherds returned with their flock from the pastures and proceed to count and separate the sheep. Of course, they would have had at least one dog to help them round the flock, to head them off or hold them up just by standing in the road, blocking the sheep’s way, and barking, to remind the woolly beasts who’s the boss.

The plain, square floor plan of the Furriers’ Tower dates its construction back to the 14th century, although it was rebuilt various times, latest at the end of the 17th century. Worth noticing are the narrow window-slits on the top, fourth level for dousing invaders with hot liquids. Over the centuries, fighters armed with spears, halebards, arquebuses, and even a small cannon manned this tower.

the Furriers' Tower, medieval Sighisoara, 14th century - Turnul Cojocarilor
The Furrier’s Tower, Sighisoara – walking into the fortress – Turnul Cojocarilor

The Weavers’ Tower was located between the Furriers’ Tower and the Tailors’ Tower. The Weavers’ Tower was demolished in the mid-19th century together with the fortress wall stretching between the Furriers’ Tower all the way to the Shoemakers’ Tower.

The Tailors’ Tower is a massive baroque-style construction, first mentioned in 1521. Located opposite the Clock Tower it marks the second entrance in Sighisoara fortress. Nowadays is the only access way for cars. It was rebuilt after the big fire of 1676 and today it looks like this:

Journey in medieval city sighisoara. Tailors' Tower, medieval Sighisoara - Turnul Croitorilor
Tailors’ Tower – Turnul Croitorilor – source

Look at the two passageways. They do suggest a 12th – 14th century construction and so are the two ancient porticullis, the metal latticed gates, that lock by sliding vertically to fortify the access way into the fortress.

As mentioned, this tower went up in flames taking with it the adjacent corridor where there was a storage area for projectiles and gunpowder apart from grains and halbards.

The Shoemakers’ Tower, standing since 1522, is quite a spectacular view, proving once again that the strength of a guild lies in its demand. Reconstructed after the fire of 1676 (when it exploded due to the large amount of gunpowder stored inside), it picked up the baroque architectonic influences of the late 17th century.

Shoemakers' Tower Sighisoara plaque - Turnul Cizmarilor - marvel medieval towers fortress
“Shoemakers’ Tower – although it dates from older times, it gained the shape you see today in 1681.” – Turnul Cizmarilor

This was my favorite tower! Do notice the small observation tower (lookout turret if you wish) on the roof visible in the picture below (there are two such towers), and the large windows, so not in the style of the Middle Ages.

Shoemaker's Tower - street entrance - marvel medieval towers fortress
Shoemaker’s Tower – the back entrance

These windows are post World War Two when, for a spell, the tower was turned into a depository of archival documents. The outside wooden staircase is very recent, since 2001.
Today it houses a local radio station.

Shoemakers Tower - roof. Medieval Sighisoara
Note the slanted roof to fend off piling of snow during heavy snowfalls
Shoemakers Tower, Sighisoara - new, wooden staircase
Shoemakers Tower, Sighisoara – the new addition, a wooden staircase

And if you climb the stairs you’re treated to a colorful view:

Shoemaker's Tower view on Sighisoara - marvel medieval towers fortress
A charming view from the balcony

One last look up the Shoemakers’ Tower before we move on, certainly a sight to marvel at as not every day we get to see such medieval towers and Sighisoara fortress is a place far away for many tourists.

Shoemaker's Tower - looking up. marvel medieval towers fortress
Looking up at Shoemaker’s Tower, Sighisoara Fortress

The Locksmiths’ Tower and bastion nearby were part of the main defensive system. This area has seen an explosive history: blown up during a siege in 1706, hit by lightning and burned down in 1809, demolished at the end of the 19th century, making way for the construction of the present Church.

The Ironsmiths’ Tower is a massive tower built in 1631 to protect the fortress and the nearby Monastery Church.

Monastery Church, Sighisoara Fortress - marvel medieval towers fortress
As we spied on the Monastery Church, nestled in the medieval Sighisoara fortress

The tower we see today dates from 1631, raised on top of the Barber’s Tower and rebuilt after the big fire of 1676. At the end of the 19th century it was repurposed as a fire-station. Medieval elements worth noticing are the consoles at the top, protecting the windows, and the machicolations (the floor openings between the corbels, the stones jutting from the wall at the top), and the slits and holes.

marveling medieval towers sighisoara / Ironsmiths' Tower, Turnul Fierarilor
Ironsmiths’ Tower as we saw it, Turnul Fierarilor

And looking up at Ironsmiths’ Tower from the pathway surrounding the fortress:

Ironsmiths Tower medieval Sighisoara  - Turnul Fierarilor - marvel medieval towers fortress
Looking up at Ironsmiths’ Tower from the pathway surrounding the fortress

Looking back – and suddenly it doesn’t look that massive, does it? Perhaps that’s why many attackers thought that they might take it on.

A snow covered path outside the walls of Medieval Sighisoara - marvel medieval towers fortress
Looking at the past…

And with one last look over our shoulder, thinking of its medieval atmosphere, with medieval horns, dark staircases and eerie views, we marvel one last time and bid farewell to the medieval towers of Sighisoara fortress and a snowy winter.

Remember to visit more medieval castles of Romania: Corvin Castle or discover if, without Mircea the Elder, we would have even had a Vlad the Impaler.

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