Sighisoara Medievala 2009 – the fairytale goes on

Watch it from a distance, maybe from the surrounding hills … According to a romantic German tourist guide you will see a medieval dollhouse (eine mittelalterliche Puppenstube) on a small hill in the middle of the town. Now come closer…

Every year fans of medieval spirit and fun come to Sighisoara to climb the hill and be part of a three- days festival of medieval art.

This year the slogan was “The fairy tale goes on”. And indeed it does, the local authorities have  – unfortunately in a negative way – internalized this statement long before the event started:

The citadel has stayed upside down for more than 3 years now. Shall we pave it…should we leave it like that…shall it be cobble stone or river stone… What to do? Authorities together with slow workers  wait and see..  And thus the city has been patiently waiting for a very long time now, worried and with excavated streets. A signboard in the citadel’s main square apologizes for the inconvenience created by the workings (not!) done there, so everyone is informed and people can’t complain they haven’t been warned. Hence the (scary)tale can go on for who knows how long… In fact, a little medieval authenticity can’t possibly harm! One can think of himself as part of a true 12th century scenery with a citadel in the very process of emerging from the ground. Yippee…we deal with living history here!

Luckily there’s much more to see around, so our attention can drift from the uneven ground towards the old houses, towers and churches, and the festive progamme offered by the organizers.  Having a look at other fellow festival participants (locals and especially tourists/guests who come from all parts of the country and even from far-away places) you can have their number quite easily: young people willing to dive into a special mood, have fun with friends and generally spend a long relaxed weekend far from present-day conformity. Well, Sighisoara with its festival is usually THE opportunity to be fabulous. So I too jumped without effort into the fairy-tale disposition.

After paying a 10 RON  (2,5 EUR) daily entrance fee at the gates of the citadel we were free to listen to medieval music coming from the main square scene. Or watch the flag wizards swinging their blazons in the air. Or leave our money at the stands strung together on both sides of the streets. The offering regarding ethno-style (=medieval?) accessory grows bigger every year, you can get lost in variations on recurring topics: from earrings to handbags, leather belts or pottery, fridge magnets with clock towers, you can also come across some rather creepy offers: plastic Scary Movie masks or wigs that give you instant headache (I wonder who would go for that crap if one already has the choice to be painted by street artists as fancy  -or horrible, for that matter-  as one wishes…?) All in all you could find decent stuff to buy, the dark kitsch blockbusters like vampire mugs or even spookier products were officially banished from the citadel and settled down in the streets of the Lower City.

Speaking of the Lower City… it didn´t necessarily equal lower festival quality, in spite of the above- mentioned “dark arts” vicinity. Here we could enjoy an ambitious joust (mmm… I’m not sure if this is the correct historic word). Regarding the eye-catching experience: it was a tale about knights on tall horses competing for love or fortune, who cares ( what mattered to me were the horses, and they were awesome) … During the standing ovations (no chairs from the organizers) for the horses and the stuntmen you could also get mugged. It happened to one of us, yay, and we didn’t have a sword, nor was any anti-bandit-guard around to solve the problem.

The highlight of the festival was for me our second night out. They had some good musical performances on the main square (which was quite crowded), the atmosphere was very relaxed and playful. Time to feel free again and join the rhythm of the drums… We danced like Irish people (or at least tried to), sang together with the Swedish soprano, encouraged or civilly discouraged people holding speeches on the stage, sat down in a circle and lighted a small tribal fire, danced with the hands and made the wave move… Fireworks in the background, an illuminated clock tower and shadows of the medieval houses watching us graciously. And above everything  the stars and a white moon.  It’s so simple to feel good!

After the third day the festival closed its gates. Sighisoara and its celebrated medieval citadel calmed down and got back to “normal”.  The local authorities can breathe again. Shall they pave the streets now or should they wait a little longer?…The tale goes on.

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