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Sibiul Vechi - Piata MareThroughout the year 2007 Sibiu and Luxembourg were partners in organizing 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 area currently occupied by the city of Sibiu dated as far back as the 4th century A.D. At that time, an important Roman settlement existed in the district now called Gusteriţa. From the same period is the “Biertan Donarium”, whose Latin inscriptions testify once more the existence of a population of Roman descendancy in this region. In fact, this population is believed to be the mixture resulting from the Romanization of the Dacian population after the withdrawal [under Emperor Aurelius, AD 271] of Romans from Dacia.

Sibiul Vechi - Piata MareAlmost a millennium later, the first documents emerge, testifying a human settlement on the territory now occupied by Sibiu. On December 20, 1191 Pope Celestin III issued a document attesting to the existence of a praepositus of the Germans living in Transylvania. This document 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 (Germans) are the Seats, first mentioned in a document in 1302. In 1355 the province of Sibiu, which comprised seven seats, is confirmed. 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.

Sibiul Vechi - Strada CetatiiNowadays, the inhabitants of Sibiu are proud of the medieval elements of the city. The medieval period was a prosperous time for Hermannstadt, both from an economic and administrative point of view. Economically speaking, craftsmen hold a prominent place in Hermannstadt and were organized 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. However, the Middle Ages also represented a time of unrest for Sibiu. Situated in between the Hungarian Empire (later the Habsburg Empire), and the Ottoman Empire, Sibiu played multiple roles, ranging from administrative centre of the region, to battlefield, having been repeatedly burned. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the Habsburg Empire in the 17th century made Sibiu the capital of the Transylvanian Principality 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. In the 19th Century, the Transylvanian Diet and the Romanian National Party functioned here. During the 19th century Sibiu was in full economic and demographic development, as the city limits exceeded 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. Sibiu became the third city of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that introduced electric lighting and the second one with an electric tram. In 1925 Sibiu already had a population of 44,000 inhabitants, of which 23,000 were Germans. This situation will change dramatically with the emergence of communism, as the deportation of Transylvanian Saxons to the Soviet Union started in 1945. Nevertheless, Ceausescu's urban planning left the old part of the city unaltered, and Sibiu became a 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.

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