Into the Tower of St. Mary’s Evangelical Church Sibiu, Daring, Hypnotic, and Legendary

St. Mary’s Evangelical Church of Sibiu, with its imposing presence shrouded in mystery, steeped in centuries-old legends, still beckons those who dare to explore its depths. As twilight descends on the city once known as Hermannstadt to the four corners of the world, its ancient streets echo of St. Mary’s Evangelical Church mysterious whispers. Undoubtedly, the cloak of twilight still draws curious souls to the towering silhouette of this Lutheran Cathedral.

We read the historical legend of the murder believed to take place on its front steps. We marveled at its studded, gothic door with its intricate mechanism.

Now it is time to climb the tower of the Evangelical Church. To see and experience the need of rising a building that will reach skyward, towards the divine. And for the promise of the view at the top. Yet only one door leads to the stone tower:

At the pinnacle of this Gothic marvel stands the Tower, a sentinel of time, its secrets shrouded in dusk. Step by step, one ascends the worn stone staircase, each footfall carrying the weight of history’ climbing, while descending into the past. Within these hallowed walls, whispers from the past intertwine with the present, creating a tapestry of mystery and intrigue.

Up the vertigo staircase:

In 1350 (when the Black Death ravaged western and northern Europe), amid whispers of ancient prophecies and clandestine rituals, construction of the church began on the hallowed grounds where a sacred edifice had once stood in the 12th century.

Past the bells, on more flights of stairs we go:

However, it wasn’t until 1474 that the builders, guided by unseen hands, decreed the need for a grand hall church to welcome the devout Saxons who sought solace within its walls.

The Tower, a symbol of human ambition and divine inspiration, rose majestically into the heavens, its spires piercing the barrier between mortal realms and the ethereal unknown. As its completion in 1494 heralded a new era for Hermannstadt, it also bore witness to the solemn authority bestowed upon the city, represented by the four corner turrets—a silent testament to the city’s right of life and death.

We are here, right at the top (the tower of the Evangelical Church as seen from the top of the Council Tower):

The tower of Evangelical Church Sibiu as seen from the Council Tower
The tower of Evangelical Church Sibiu as seen from the Council Tower. Notice the four corner turrets—a silent testament to the city’s right of life and death.

Throughout the ages, beneath the Tower’s watchful gaze, countless prayers have risen to the heavens, their whispered pleas mingling with the ethereal melodies that drift through stained glass windows. Despite the hallowed echoes of sacred hymns shadows still dance on the walls, hinting at secrets lost in the mists of time.

After 192 steps and narrow windows, finally the panoramic view from the top:

For hundreds of years this tower served as an observation point for firefighters.

After climbing the concealed spiral staircase of Evangelical Church the panoramic view at the top, a different one from each of the four turrets, was a sweet reward:

The Legend of the Tower of St. Mary’s Evangelical Church Sibiu

It is said that during the time when the Saxons were constructing the tower of their church, they set their minds to erect an unprecedented tower, one that would rise “to the heavens”. Upon learning that the tallest church tower in Transylvania was in Bistrița, they secretly sent two craftsmen to measure it. True to their word, the two craftsmen from Sibiu went, climbed the tower, and dropped rope, all the way down, to measure it. But on their way home they paused at an inn. As good wine loosened their tongues, the craftsmen confessed to their mission. So, while they slept, the people of Bistrița shortened their rope by two meters. Thus, the legend explains why the Evangelical tower of Sibiu stands at just over 73 meters, while the one in Bistrița remained the tallest church tower in Transylvania, at 75 meters.

You can enjoy this legend as I told it on only 100 words, and many more myths and folktales, in my latest book Dreamland.

There is a mysterious nexus within the Evangelical Church, where the past and present meet in a delicate dance of light and shadow. And as the moon casts its silver glow on the ancient stones, those who dare to tread its hallowed halls may discover long-forgotten truths hidden deep within history’s embrace. Next time.

16 Replies to “Into the Tower of St. Mary’s Evangelical Church Sibiu, Daring, Hypnotic, and Legendary”

  1. The story about the rope is a great story. I loved this post for the history and all the beautiful photos. I saw this church from the outside when we visited Sibiu but we did not go up the tower. Dreamland is indeed a really wonderful book, a true masterpiece.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your memories, Thomas. There is so much to see and do in Sibiu 🙂 I am thrilled you visited this Romanian city too. I have fond memories of Sibiu.

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