With buildings dating back to the 12th century, Sibiu is one of the largest fortified towns of the central and east part of Europe.
Also, parts of the old guard wall are preserved, as well as a part of the third fortification wall. The old center of Sibiu is an assembly of medieval art, with three chained markets and gothic, renaissance and baroque buildings.
On the current Fortress street, one can still see, well preserved, the Potters’, Harquebusiers’ and Carpenters’ Towers, built in the 14th-16th centuries.
The Big Square of Sibiu, which is now an attraction for tourists, used to be the center of the town in the past, too. Here took place the public executions, either on the gallows or on the stake. Also, here there is a kind of outdoor prison, a “cage for the insane”, where trouble makers at night were kept. In the 18th century, the first theater show was plaid here.
Only 4 km from the center of Sibiu there is the “Dumbrava Sibiului” Natural Park, spreading over 960 ha, along the road to Rasinari. The Dumbrava forest is famous for its oak exemplars, some of them 400 years old. In thee Dumbrava forest you can meet deers, squirrels, hedgehogs and even wild boars and foxes. The ASTRA Museum of Popular Civilization was arranged in this area, as well as a Zoo, each of them containing a lake where people can spend time boating or riding the hydro-bicycles.
Mountain routes in the Sibiu area
Due to its setting, Sibiu is a departure point for many mountain hikes. Be careful, though, because the routes starting from the Sibiu area are of the most dangerous ones. That is why, in Sibiu there is the most developed mountain rescue center of Romania. There are currently 26 tourist routes marked in the Fagaras Mountains, 17 in the Cindrel Mountains, and 7 in the Lotrului Mountains.
The Fagaras Mountains are the most wanted for mountain hiking and sporting alpinism. In the Fagaras Massif there is the chalet at the highest altitude of Romania - Podragu Chalet, 2136 m high.
Among the favorite tourist routes also counts the route leading to the Cindrel Natural Park, a protected area in the Cindrel Mountains. The access to the Park can be made with departure from Sibiu-Paltinis, then on the marked mountain footpath.
Another attraction is the “Fagaras Alpine Void” Natural Park, a protected area as well, located between Suru Peak and Podagru. The approach is through the road DN1 (E68) Sibiu-Selimbar-Turnu Rosu – a marked route, or through DN1 (E68) Sibiu-Selimbar-Avrig-Porumbacu de Sus – a marked route.
A maximum tourist interest point is the Cindrel Tarns, a natural reservation, with two glacial valleys where the Iezerul Mare (1999 m of altitude) and Iezerul Mic (1946 m of altitude) lakes are formed. The route starts on the road DJ106A Sibiu-Paltinis and then on the marked mountain route Paltinis – Batrina – Cindrel.
Less known, but extremely picturesque is the “Eocene Chalkstones of Porcesti” Natural Reservation. A natural monument with paleontological value due to the many mineral elements and fossilized flora and fauna species, the Reservation is near the Turnu Rosu commune.
The Arpasel Natural Reservation is renowned because it is the area where the most black goats live, being animals protected by law in Romania. Located on the north slope of the Fagaras Mountains, on the Arpasel Valley, close to the Balea Natural Park, the Reservation is the place where over 80% of the black goats of the Fagaras Mountains live, as well as bears and mountain eagles. One can reach here by train, on the route Sibiu - Brasov, Arpasul de Jos station, or by route E68 - Sibiu - Brasov - Arpasul de Jos commune – then Transfagarasan – marked route
You cannot reach the Sibiu area and not know that here there is a natural monument with geological value, the Cretaceous Chalkstones of Cisnadioara. It is on the Silver Valley (Valea Argintului), approximately 1 km from the Cisnadioara village.
The Muddy Volcanoes of Hasag, located between Hasag and Mandra, on the radius of the Loamnes commune, are also a natural monument with geological value, being easily accessible by railroad Sibiu - Medias, Hasag halt.
Also, among the wonders of this area there is also the “Bottomless Lake of Ocna Sibiului” Natural Reservation. Being a natural monument with geological value, the lake was formed into an old salt mine that collapsed in 1775. It is also called the “Francisc Lake” or the “Wood Lake”. It is located bear the park of the Ocna Sibiului baths.
Transfagarasan (road across Fagaras) - Balea
Built between 1970 and 1974, the Transfagarasan road (DN 7 C) crosses the Fagaras Mountains on the north-south direction and binds Muntenia to Transylvania. It is 90 km long and starts from the Arefu commune, in Arges county, at kilometer 61 of the road DN7C, ending in the Cartisoara commune (Sibiu), at the crossroad with DN1. The Transfagarasan road is extremely circulated because it leads to the Balea area, one of the strongest tourist attractions of the Fagaras Mountains.
The Transfagarasan road is closed since the end of October until June, because of the snow that covers the road and because of the stones that may fall during this period. In winter, tourists may get to the Balea Waterfall and to the Balea Lake by cable car.
The Balea Area is a particularly beautiful natural reservation. Here you can admire the Balea Waterfall, 60 m high, at an altitude of over 1234 m, and two of the highest mountain peaks of Romania, the Moldoveanu and Negoiu Peaks. Also, around this waterfall you can enjoy the image of the Balea Lake, which is the glacial lake with the widest surface of the Fagaras Mountains, having over 100 ha. The lake is considered a natural monument and it is formed at the altitude of 2034 m, in a glacial cavity, being surrounded by the Olt Defile and the feet of the Piatra Craiului Mountains.