Throughout the year 2006 Sibiu and Luxembourg were co-organizers of the European Capital of Culture. The motto promoting both Sibiu and this event is “Sibiu, young since 1191.” However, the first settlements testified in the region currently inhabited by the city of Sibiu dated as far back in history as the 4th century A.D. There used to be, in that period, an important Roman settlement in the area now called the Gusterita district. The “Biertan Donarium”, also dating form the 4th century A.D. whose Latin inscriptions testify once more the existence in this region of a population of Roman extraction. Actually, this population is considered to be the combination resulting from the Romanization process of the Dacian population and the withdrawal of Romans from Dacia.
Almost a millennium later one could find the first documents testifying to the existence of a human settlement on the current territory of Sibiu. On December 20, 1191 Pope Celestin III passed an act confirming the existence in Sibiu of a prepositure of the German population living in Transylvania. This act also regulated church organization for colonists of German-origin who settled in Transylvania. The existence of German colonists in the Sibiu area was also mentioned some decades later in another document, when King Andrew III issued a Golden Bull which stipulated that German colonists benefited from certain rights and privileges, thus enjoying a higher status in society than the natives. The first forms of administrative organization of Transylvanian Saxons are the Seats first mentioned in a document in 1302, while in 1355 there emerged seven Seats in Sibiu. At the same time, however, Sibiu was also awarded the title of “civitas” and in the year 1366 it was first mentioned in a document as Hermannstadt.
Nowadays, the inhabitants of Sibiu are proud of their medieval ancestry. The medieval period represented a prosperous time, both from an economic and administrative perspective. From an economic point of view, craftsmen hold an prominent place in Hermannstadt and they organize themselves in guilds, according to their various activities and crafts. There were 19 guilds in Hermannstadt in 1376, while in the 18th century there were 40 guilds. However, the Middle Ages also represented a turmoil period for Sibiu. Situated on the border between / at the crossroads between the Hungarian Empire, later called the Habsburg Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, Sibiu has played multiple roles, from an administrative centre of the region, to battlefield, having been repeatedly set on fire. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the Habsburg Empire in the 17th century made Sibiu the capital of the Transylvanian Principate between 1692 and 1790. The first postal line between Sibiu and Vienna was inaugurated in 1745, and it communicated between the two cities twice a month.
A new wave of colonists came to Sibiu, this time from Austria, during the first half of the 19th century. Along with the increase in the number of the Germanic population, Sibiu also became a significant centre of Romanians and their struggle for freedom. The Transylvanian Diet and the Romanian National Party functioned here in the 18th century. During the 19th century Sibiu was in full economic and demographic development, as the city limits surpassed by far the medieval fortification walls. In 1900 there were 26,000 inhabitants in Sibiu, and 15,000 of them were Germans. In 1919 the name of the city changed from Hermannstadt to Sibiu. Thus Sibiu became the third city of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that introduced electric illumination and the second one introducing the electric tram. In 1925 Sibiu already had a population of 44,000 inhabitants, of which 23,000 were Germans. This situation would dramatically change with the emergence of communism, since the year 1945 marked the deportation of the Transylvanian Saxons to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Ceausescu`s urban planning left the old part city unaltered, and Sibiu became the county capital in 1968. On December 21, 1989 Sibiu was the second city of Romania that joined the fight against communism. In 2007, Sibiu was awarded the title of European Capital of Culture, alongside Luxembourg.