Romania has been gaining buzz as a destination over the past several years, and not just because of the extremely clever ad campaign its tourism ministry recently ran in the UK.
Romania's affordability was the focus of this campaign, but the country's true draw for potential visitors is its complex cultural tapestry. A blend of ancestral Latin identity cut with a history of Hungarian, Ottoman and Soviet imperialism, modern Romania's intoxicating composition manifests itself in language, cuisine, architecture and social customs.
One of my favorite places I visited during the 10 days I spent in Romania last month was the village of Sighișoara, located in the heart of Transylvania. In spite of its vampiric sounding name, the origins of Sighișoara are German, and date back to the 12th century, when the Hungarian ruler who presided over Transylvania invited Saxon craftsmen and merchants to settle and protect the region.
Sighișoara, whose walled citadel is a UNESCO world heritage site, is small, and in close proximity to Transylvania's tourist hub Brașov. This makes it an easy day-trip if you don't have time in your schedule to devote an entire day to it (which I obviously hope you do). Click through the slideshow below to see my best photos from Sighișoara, and visit Leave Your Daily Hell for more incredible destinations for independent travelers.
The Tarnava river separates the ancient citadel of Sighisoara from a modern Eastern Orthodox church.
Strolling through Sighioara's ancient center calls to mind Saxony more than Transylvania.
Romanians grow tired of their association with the Dracula legend, which to be fair does partially stem from a 15th century Wallachian prince named Vlad Tepes. Still, vendors and restaurateurs are happy to profit from it, as this Sighisoara restaurant (with the city's famous clock tower in the background) exemplifies.
Looking out over Sighisoara, even on a cloudy day, provides a wash of delightful color and texture.
I made this furry friend while wandering through Sighisoara as the sun was coming out.
Looking down toward modern Sighisoara from the clock tower reveals a more Soviet-looking town.
Like most of Transylvania, Sighisoara is much more charming than scary, and its cemetery is no exception.
The hill atop which the cemetery sits is not only a great spot for a relaxing moment with the dead, but provides a wonderful view of the old city, with mountains rolling gently in the background.
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