The Medieval and Legendary Small Square of Sibiu

I met the medieval, legendary, and quaint Small Square at night time, in the Citadel of Sibiu. Once part of the medieval city walls and of the second fortification of Sibiu, Hermannstadt, (built after the Mongol invasion), today it’s quiet, keeping to the shadows, taking shelter behind its many archways. The picturesque Small Square looks shy of new visitors. But as my footsteps echoed on its cobblestones, its fabulous history came alive in front of my eyes.

Small Square Piata Mica Sibiu coffee seating in a bathtub
An adorable coffee door with a porch seating arranged in a bathtub, dressed-up for Christmas – the dark opening on the left is the mouth of the Goldsmiths Passage whose stair descend into the Goldsmiths Square.

The Small Square of Sibiu, Piața Mică or Small Ring, Ringul cel Mic, is one of the oldest parts of the city with a history that dates back to the 14th century (when it was included in the second defense system of the city). This happened after the first first defense walls, the wooden constructions erected in medieval Huet Square and the homes along ancient Targului Street were destroyed during the great Mongol invasion, remember the story?

Small Square-Huet Square 3D model, 2004, Arh Victor Moraru, Arh Mihai Tuca, Council Tower Museum
Small Square (left) – Huet Square (right) on a 3D model, 2004, Arh Victor Moraru, Arh Mihai Tuca, Council Tower Museum Sibiu

The Small Square was dressed in her best Christmas attire the night I met her. Things look different in the night and I didn’t know then, all that I learned later, about her troubled past, her exciting life, and the treasures it holds.

Below: click on an image to enlarge.
Left image: No 24 Small Square (exactly near the Goldsmiths Tower we visited not long ago), followed by the medieval buildings (although later reconstructions) at No 25 Small Square, No 26, No 27, No 28, No 29, No 30 and No 31, exacylu by the tall Council Tower (in the image above is the tall tower with a rounded roof found in the middle, in front of the road that leads under the Bridge of Lies):

Then I heard the song, echoing around the square, underneath the colonnades. Yet none was around. A melody arrived on wings of wind?

Legendary Small Square Sibiu

The haunting voice floated on the stillness of the night, like a melancholic tune from another realm. It echoed through the darkness, weaving its way through the arches and shadows, captivating and elusive. It carried a sorrowful longing, a sense of ancient wisdom, and yearning that stirred the soul.

The voice was ethereal, almost otherworldly, as if it belonged to a spirit or a lost soul from the beyond. It rose and fell in haunting tones, sometimes soft and mournful, other times soaring with an otherworldly power. Its timbre was rich and mesmerizing, drawing the listener in with its hypnotic allure.

A recording that escaped from somewhere, I thought. I didn’t know then…

Few are those who still remember the sad legend of the beautiful merchant daughter who fell in love with a handsome stranger. But the daughter of one of the prominent merchants of Sibiu, whose business was sheltered by the proud, tall colonnades of Small Square, could not look, nor dance, and definitely not fall for an outsider. Neither her beauty, nor her sweet nature were on her side when her father ordered her to forget the young traveling musician. Alas, she did not. And one night, as they were dancing under the moonlight in Small Square, they were discovered by her father and his men. In a fit of rage, the merchant ordered that the young man be banished from the city. An act that proved too much for the young girl who soon died of a broken heart. Those who still remember their tale whisper that her spirit still haunts the Small Square, and on certain nights you can hear her singing the songs she once shared with her beloved. Some say that if you listen closely, you can even hear the sound of his lute accompanying her, from a distance.

Yet everything looks different in broad daylight and these are the doors to the Marriage House, Small Square No. 22, a XV-XVI cent. building:

The Medieval and Legendary Small Square no 22 Sibiu - large door to the Marriage House, XV cent. building
The Marriage House, Small Square No.22, XV century – the ground level used to have an open loggia until the XIXth century

Of course we take a peek inside.

Below: detail of the studded door and the large inner court (would youhave guessed, from the street?) of the House of Marriages, Casa Casatoriilor, Small Square Sibiu:

Small Square Sibiu, a little bit of medieval history and some doors

Small Square, apart from being included in the medieval city walls and the second fortification, was originally a central market square where traders and merchants. These were local Transylvanian Saxons but also tradesmen arrived by cart from Brasov, perhaps from the salt mines of Turda bringing the white gold, and even from as far as the Ottoman Empire – textiles and spices! – via Bran Pass perhaps, and the land routes of Wallachia. Even for medieval times, or perhaps especially then, it would have been a multiculturalism. Merchants gathered in the Small Square to buy and sell goods, as their ware was protected against bad weather by the beautiful loggias that surrounded it. Sibiu alone, Hermannstadt back then, safeguarded 19 guilds and 25 crafts.

15th cent. No 25, 26, 27 Small Square Sibiu medieval buildings originally
15th cent. buildings: No 25, 26, 27 Small Square Sibiu

A loggia like the one below, where today tourists can enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine – and right next to the Shoemaker’s Passage:

Small Square Sibiu,one of the loggias where medieval merchants sold their ware.
Small Square Sibiu,one of the loggias where medieval merchants sold their ware.

The Small Square in Sibiu, Romania, is not only the jewel of Cibin‘s historic center, but one of the city’s most picturesque and historic landmarks. Located in the heart of the city’s medieval Old Town, the Small Square is surrounded today by beautifully preserved buildings that date back to the Middle Ages, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Sibiu.

I took these photos while walking underneath the loggias surrounding Small Square in Sibiu, happy to finally share them for Thursday Doors weekly challenge hosted by Dan Antion whose book Knuckleheads I enjoyed very much.

Over the centuries, the Small Square has been the site of many important events in the city’s history, including battles, markets, festivals, or parades. Today, it remains one of the most popular and well-preserved historic areas in Sibiu, with many beautiful buildings and monuments that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage.

We conclude with the door to the Pharmacy Museum, a building dating to the 15th century. We’ll open it NEXT TIME, so subscribe to my newsletter, never miss a post:

A little door to a place with a big history, the Pharmacy Museum, Small Square, Sibiu
A little door to a place with a big history, the Pharmacy Museum, Small Square, Sibiu –We’ll open it NEXT TIME
Dreamland stories from Transylvania Banat Crisana Maramures, folklore, legends, history, fiction

10 Replies to “The Medieval and Legendary Small Square of Sibiu”

  1. A Pharmacy Museum? Kind of cool. I just can’t wait the next installment. Anyway, Sibiu looks absolutely wonderful, especially by night. 🙂 I really want to visit it someday. And your short story is so endearing. I enjoyed reading it.

    1. I am glad is resonated with you, Jo.
      Yes, Sibiu had a hospice in the 13th century and a pharmacy in the 15th century, one of the first in Europe.
      It’s fascinating to visit 😉

  2. Thank you for helping me start this day in such a nice easy way. I love the photos and the description of walking around. I was captivated by the part about the sound. The square looks like such a mysterious place at night. I’m glad they haven’t gone overboard with the lighting. I like that roof on the building marked SIGMA. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a roof like that.

  3. A great pleasure, Dan. We had such an incredible time in Sibiu last December, it was a treat to revisit the photos and memories.

    Yes, that roof is rather unique. The houses, although dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, have been raised and rebuilt over the years. So each home with its own roof. Plus, the roof needs a steep incline to help drain the snow during winter time.

    The Big Square nearby had the Christmas Market (one of the best in Europe), so all the lights were there 🙂 I’m taking my time, but a blog post about the Big Square at Christmas time will come out eventually.

  4. What a fascinating place, Patricia. I could see myself sitting in that square having coffee/tea (during the day.) I love the coffee door and the use of the bathtub for seating!!

    janet

  5. We sat in the square and had a cup of coffee 🙂 There are also benches with solar pannels and plugs to charge your cellphone while enjoying the view 🙂

  6. The more you share about Sibiu the more I want to visit! So interesting all you shared about this beautiful square!

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