A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about cemetery

Sighișoara: Germanic influences

Sighișoara


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

The first thing I did today was walk back to the train station to buy my ticket to Budapest in advance - 183 lei (£32). Best to sort this out in advance rather than just turning up on the day and a taking a chance on there being a spare seat.

After that I did more exploring, going up the 13th-century Clock Tower first and taking photos from the top.

3127fb70-4e43-11e9-b700-5fa1e9f2c956.JPG31624550-4e43-11e9-b700-5fa1e9f2c956.JPGIMG_0911.JPG32437d90-4e43-11e9-b5b6-cb0e0d682b8a.JPGIMG_0922.JPG2fcfbe70-4e43-11e9-b700-5fa1e9f2c956.JPGIMG_0912.JPGIMG_0919.JPG

It's a working clock tower, with seven intriguing wooden figures representing the seven days of the week - so Sunday holds a sun, Monday is Athena/ Diana with a crescent moon on her head and a bow in her hand, Tuesday is a soldier (representing Mars/ Ares/ Tiw), Thursday is Thor... These figures are on one side of the tower, and there's another set on the other. This set has a drummer (who beats the hours on his bronze drum), the Goddesses of Peace, Justice and Fairness, along with two angels representing Day and Night. All of these wooden figures are set in motion by the clock's mechanism. Apparently at 6am the angel symbolising the Day comes out and at 6pm the angel for the Night does (carrying two 'burning' candles), but I never caught them at the right time to see them.

IMG_0927.JPGIMG_0897.JPG

The Clock Tower also holds the local history museum - artifacts from the Hatters', Linen Weavers', Tailors', Shoemakers', Tanners', Furriers', Coopers', Turners', Carpenters', Tinsmiths' and Blacksmiths' Guilds. It also had several special patterned wooden gingerbread moulds used by the Bakers' Guild. Aside from guild artifacts, it had a collection of historic clocks, pottery and prehistoric flint artifacts, massive carved wooden (and sometimes painted) chests used for transporting goods in the 17th - 19th centuries, and some other things.

I also went into the Torture Chamber, also held in part of the Clock Tower; this was used to extract confessions from prisoners and contains some of the machines used. The Weapon Museum, a collection of medieval arms and armour, was round the corner, so I saw that as well.

Some general photos of the town;

94aa5200-4e49-11e9-b700-5fa1e9f2c956.JPGIMG_0889.JPG952e9d30-4e49-11e9-b700-5fa1e9f2c956.JPGIMG_0892.JPGIMG_0932.JPGIMG_0929.JPG965fca30-4e49-11e9-b544-2f1427aef568.JPG9600ba40-4e49-11e9-b099-eb77d1af48a4.JPGIMG_0888.JPG

Sighisoara is in Transylvania and has had extensive German influence ever since the 12th century, when Saxon craftsmen and merchants were invited to settle in Transylvania and act as a defence force by the King of Hungary. Apparently the Romanian spoken here has been influenced by German, and most signs are at least bilingual - between Romanian and German. German is a commonly spoken second language. The most modern signs have English as well, and sometimes French. German is everywhere! The citadel and most of the other medieval buildings are Saxon, the craftsmens' guilds were made up of Germans, even now there's a Society for Germans in Romania here. The graveyard next to the Church on the Hill (description to come in the next paragraph) is a German one.

After a toilet stop back at the hostel, I headed out again, this time to the top of the hill within the citadel. To get there, I walked up the Schoolboys' Stairs, a covered set of 175 steps (formerly longer) dating from 1642 which leads to the old school and the Church on the Hill at the top.

IMG_0935.JPG

The old school was interesting, as you'd expect - one big room, with benches in rows and two science displays along one wall. Apparently the school only closed in 1997, having been in use for nearly 400 years - there was a list of all the school directors on the wall. Old schoolbooks were placed on the desks - they were all in German. I don't know whether German continued to be the language used to teach in even after WWI, when Transylvania officially transferred from Austria - Hungary to Romania.

IMG_0936.JPGIMG_0939.JPGIMG_0937.JPG

The church was interesting too - a contrast to all the Orthodox churches I've seen in Bulgaria and Bucharest. Almost as big as a cathedral, very spacious and relatively plain, though it had several brightly painted wooden altars, and on the walls some fragments of 15th century frescoes. They were very faded, but I made out St George and the Dragon on one fragment. The church also contains a crypt - the only one in Romania apparently. Most of the spaces where coffins were held have been filled up, but two have been left.

IMG_0944.JPGIMG_0942.JPGIMG_0948.JPGIMG_0959.JPGIMG_0949.JPGIMG_0951.JPG5046bb70-4e4a-11e9-b544-2f1427aef568.JPGIMG_0957.JPG

I wandered around the Lutheran cemetery for a while, looking at all the German names and other writing on the tombstones and taking in the lovely views. The gravestones dated from the 19th century to the present one, though I noticed older ones that had clearly been moved. Then I noted sadly someone who had died on Christmas Day, so I didn't look round for much longer after that.

IMG_0960.JPGIMG_0979.JPGIMG_0972.JPG25149390-4e4b-11e9-b6c3-877d69743443.JPG246f79f0-4e4b-11e9-b6c3-877d69743443.JPG24f9dfa0-4e4b-11e9-b700-5fa1e9f2c956.JPGIMG_0977.JPGIMG_0967.JPGIMG_0973.JPGIMG_0974.JPG

In the evening I had dinner at the hostel's restaurant - a delicious onion, red pepper and tomato mixture with an egg and some more cornmeal mush and sour cream - and ended up talking for ages with two new people who had moved into my dorm. One was from Brittany and turned out to be a Breton teacher - I had to resist the urge to ask him to speak some. I did however ask him what the words for 'bread', 'police', 'slow' and 'hello'/ 'good day' are in Breton, so I could compare them to Welsh. He'd just been talking about how the older vocabulary and the grammar of Welsh is very similar to Breton. It turns out that the word for bread is 'bara' - the same as in Welsh - but the other words are different. He said that they don't really have any words for 'hello' or 'good day' in Breton - something I was surprised by! He said that Breton speakers hold Welsh as an example of how they would like Breton to be treated; apparently France doesn't recognise it as a minority language. He also said that Cornish is very similar, and if he reads a written text in Cornish he can understand nearly all of it, but he doesn't understand as much when listening to it being spoken, as he has done on the radio in Brittany! It was all so interesting!

The other person who I spoke to was a Canadian girl from the Toronto area who lives in London and is visiting Scotland and Wales in the next couple of weeks - I ended up giving her loads of recommendations, writing them down in her diary after she gave me it and asked me to write everything down in it! She was really nice.

Posted by 3Traveller 07:01 Archived in Romania Tagged cemetery museum hostel romania german sighişoara transylvania clock_tower romanian_cuisine unesco_world_heritage_site Comments (0)

Bucharest

Bucharest


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Bucharest was incredibly hot and humid, almost at Guayaquil levels, but very interesting.

First of all I had fun exploring the old town, passing through University Square on the way.

6a74cf20-4b14-11e9-93b1-0dd4a46473a4.JPGd829fbd0-4b14-11e9-8942-db12fbf22396.JPGIMG_0692.JPG

There was no free breakfast at the hostel, so I visited a bakery instead and ate the result (a small savoury pastry sprinkled with poppy seeds and filled with bacon and melted cheese) next to a small statue of Romulus and Remus being fed by the wolf.

IMG_0693.JPGIMG_0696.JPGIMG_0695.JPGIMG_0700.JPG

Then I came across the Old Princely Court, some remains of a palace used and extended by Vlad the Impaler, who as it happens was born in Sighisoara, my next destination after Bucharest.

IMG_0707.JPGIMG_0721.JPGIMG_0730.JPGIMG_0706.JPGIMG_0708.JPG

First of all I went underground into the brick cellars - it was interesting, with the bonus of being deliciously cool - and then I looked round the rest.

IMG_0723.JPGIMG_0728.JPGIMG_0726.JPG88b14ba0-4afe-11e9-800a-b98b8d7f0c87.JPG

This included the accompanying church - originally built in 1559, but much-restored since then. The Romanian Orthodox Church seems to differ from the Bulgarian in that the candle-stands are actually boxes and are outside in a separate area. I bought and lit a candle for Dad, and after I'd done so a woman came up to me, pressed two small packets of biscuits and two boiled sweets into my hands, said something in Romanian and walked away! She did the same with another woman, who hadn't lit any candles yet.

IMG_0715.JPGIMG_0717.JPG843fcb40-4aff-11e9-800a-b98b8d7f0c87.JPGIMG_0710.JPG86935830-4aff-11e9-ad0d-ad5f0c055666.JPGIMG_0709.JPGIMG_0711.JPG8709c0b0-4aff-11e9-800a-b98b8d7f0c87.JPG

The old town also contained the old and beautiful Stavropoleos Church. It was covered in frescoes on the inside and I had fun finding out the names of the saints in them via transliteration. It seems that Romanian used to use the Cyrillic alphabet.

IMG_0762.JPGIMG_0759.JPGIMG_0761.JPGIMG_0738.JPGIMG_0755.JPGIMG_0740.JPGIMG_0750.JPGaa95b820-4b01-11e9-800a-b98b8d7f0c87.JPGIMG_0741.JPG

I also loved its pretty, peaceful little courtyard, where I stopped to sit down and have a cold drink.

IMG_0764.JPGa9b76610-4b01-11e9-800a-b98b8d7f0c87.JPGaae0cae0-4b01-11e9-9b81-272e8955bb94.JPG

The old town was definitely well worth looking round.

IMG_0705.JPG6a34dff0-4b14-11e9-a520-f73f1f13baba.JPG6a72ac40-4b14-11e9-a520-f73f1f13baba.JPG6b425850-4b14-11e9-ad91-e3dd24a56780.JPGIMG_0698.JPG

Last of all I visited the National History Museum, which was great. Special mention to the anthropomorphic pottery, the stuffed wild boar, the exquisite metalwork from 5th - 3rd century BC (helmets, cow head-shaped drinking horn, diadem of gold leaves and fish-shaped silver harness appliques) and the 14th - 16th century weapons.

2efe3650-4b11-11e9-93b1-0dd4a46473a4.JPGIMG_0778.JPGIMG_0794.JPG2e6e0440-4b11-11e9-93b1-0dd4a46473a4.JPGIMG_0787.JPGIMG_0803.JPGIMG_0791.JPGIMG_0767.JPGIMG_0771.JPG

After a rest back at the hostel, during which I had two more savoury pastries for a late lunch, followed the Ashes cricket live updates for a while and caught Kate online for a bit, I headed back out. My destination was the cemetery where Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu are buried, but on the way I stopped for a bit outside the infamous Palace of the Parliament. It was built on the orders of Ceaușescu and is the second largest building in the world (the Pentagon is the largest). A large part of the original city centre was wiped out to accommodate it.

IMG_0812.JPGf3f7ab20-4b12-11e9-a520-f73f1f13baba.JPGf2f667c0-4b12-11e9-93b1-0dd4a46473a4.JPG

I found the cemetery OK, but it took much longer than I expected to walk there, so by the time I arrived at was nearly 19.30; it was supposed to close at 20.00. After spending about twenty minutes unsuccessfully looking for their graves, I had to give up and walk all the way back again. Although I knew which row and number their graves were, the numbers of the rows didn't seem to follow any particular order, and lots of the rows didn't have any number at all. It was quite maze-like and to be honest looking for the right graves was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack! I'm still glad I went though, because it was interesting to see what a Romanian cemetery is like. Nearly all of the gravestones were shaped like crosses and were made of very white stone; there were some small mausoleums as well. I noticed lots of inlaid circular photos or pictures of the dead, like on the stones in the courtyards of the monasteries I've seen in Bulgaria. Outside the cemetery entrance there were lots of flower and coffin sellers with their wares on display at the side of the pavement.

IMG_0815.JPG

Instead of going straight back to the hostel, I made a diversion to an area of town I hadn't been to before, in order to have dinner at a restaurant I'd been recommended. I regretted it before I even got there, because I was so knackered (it was quite a long diversion) and as soon as I got there and saw a different restaurant there, I regretted it even more. It looked a bit posh and I was in not the cleanest of clothes and was literally dripping with sweat. Normally I would have just gone in anyway, but I was practically on my last legs by now and decided on the spur of the moment just to go in the nearest supermarket instead. I bought a pasta salad and a custard-like chocolate pudding, plus drinks, and tottered home. I knew that if I sat down for dinner at the restaurant, I wouldn't be able to get up again!

Posted by 3Traveller 08:57 Archived in Romania Tagged art palace cemetery museum hostel romania dad bucharest orthodox_church romanian_cuisine extreme_weather Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]