Sighisoara is one of Transylvania’s seven fortified Saxon cities. Located in Mures County, roughly 300km north of Bucharest, it has enjoyed historical prominence given its position right in the lap of the Carpathian Mountains, which once formed a natural land border between Europe and the Ottoman-controlled East.

Like other cities in the region, Sighisoara was established in the 12th century by the Saxons, a group of German-born craftspeople and merchants who were dispatched to Transylvania by their Hungarian overlords.

The idea was to push the kingdom’s boundaries and shore up vulnerable mountain passes from Ottoman and Tatar invasion. Bringing their various trades with them, the craftsmen and their families established Sighisoara—then called Schaasburg—as a successful frontier community and trading hub. Other artisans followed, and eventually Sighisoara was home to 15 flourishing trade guilds.

They didn’t just make the local economy tick—the craftsmen were also responsible for defending Sighisoara. To this end, they erected a set of mighty towers, each in the name of a different guild. These still-standing fortifications, alongside the pastel-coloured merchant houses, are what makes Sighisoara such a special place to visit.

Many consider Sighisoara’s old town to be one of the best-preserved medieval citadels in all of Europe. In 1999, the Historical Centre was officially inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recognised as a relic of Transylvanian Saxon culture.