Nagyszeben - Encyclopedia

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NAGYSZEBEN (Ger. Hermannstadt, Rumanian Sibiu), a town of Hungary, in Transylvania, the capital of the county of Sieben, 122 M. S.S.E. of Kolozsvar by rail. Pop. (1900) 26,077, of whom 16,141 were Saxons (Germans), 7106 Rumanians, and 5747 Magyars. It is beautifully situated at an altitude of 1411 ft. in the fertile valley of the Cibin (Hungarian, Szeben), encircled on all sides by the Transylvanian Alps. It is the seat of a Greek Orthodox (Rumanian) archbishop, and of the superintendent of the Protestants for the Transylvanian circle. Some parts of Nagyszeben have a medieval appearance, with houses built in the old German style. The most noteworthy of its public buildings is the handsome Protestant Church, begun in the 14th century and finished in 1520, in the Gothic style, containing a beautiful cup-shaped font, cast by Meister Leonhardus in 1438, and a large mural painting of the Crucifixion by Johannes von Rosenau (1445). In the so-called New Church, comprising the west part of the whole building, which is an addition of the 16th century, are many beautiful memorials of Saxon notables. Other buildings are: the Roman Catholic parish church, founded in 1726; the church of the Ursuline nuns, built in 1474; the town hall, an imposing building of the 15th century, purchased by the municipality in 1545 and containing the archives of the "Saxon nation." The Brukenthal palace, built in1777-1787by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal (1721-1803), governor of Transylvania, contains an interesting picture-gallery with 'good examples of the Dutch school, and a library. The museum contains a natural history section with the complete fauna and flora of Transylvania, and a rich ethnographical section. Nagyszeben has a law academy, a seminary for Greek Orthodox priests, a military academy and several secondary schools. There are manufactures of cloth, linen, leather, caps, boots, soap, candles, ropes; as well as breweries and distilleries.

The German name of the town is traceable to Hermann, a citizen of Nuremberg, who about the middle of the 12th century established a colony on the spot. In the 13th century it bore the name of Villa Hermanni. Under the last monarchs of the native Magyar dynasty Hermannstadt enjoyed exceptional privileges, and its commerce with the East rose to importance. In the course of the 15th and 16th centuries it was several times besieged by the Turks. At the beginning of 1849 it was the scene of several engagements between the Austrians and Hungarians; and later in the year it was several times taken and retaken by the Russians and Hungarians.

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