The site

Sibiu is a picturesque historical town located in the centre of Romania, in the midst of the charming scenery of Transylvania. It was initially a Daco-Roman settlement known as Cedonia. Later in the 12th century, the town was re-founded as Hermannstadt by German settlers arriving to the region invited by the prospect of new lands in the border regions at the request of the Hungarian kings to help fend off attacks from the east. The town that would later become modern Sibiu, soon transformed into one of the most prominent of several cities established by the Germans. These settlers are often referred to as Saxons, although this was a generalisation meant to refer to all arriving ethnic Germans. Already two centuries later Hermannstadt was an important trade centre with nineteen guilds and became known as the Eastern-most place of Western Europe.

The Romanian population increasingly grew more relevant in Sibiu from the18th century onwards, with a steady influx of immigrants and the establishment of numerous institutions such as the religious Metropolitan seat. After the First World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sibiu became part of the Kingdom of Romania, while still preserving a moderate German speaking population. However, in the aftermath of the Second World War, but mostly from the 1980s onwards, the majority of ethnic Germans emigrated to Germany or Austria. Nowadays Sibiu is a place representing an example of multicultural merger that can still be appreciated in terms of local traditions, stories and architecture.

Perhaps for Sibiu being at the centre of such an important part in the development of Romanian history and its multicultural tradition, it is not surprising that the town is today the seat of the ASTRA National Museum Complex, which is the most important ethnographic museum in Romania. ASTRA Museum is a modern cultural institution with multiple international collaboration programmes. The hundred hectares of the ASTRA Museum serve as an open-air installation that illustrates an image of rural life from all over Romania. It is composed of over 400 houses, household annexes, technical installations and over 22,000 mobile heritage items. The image is complemented by handicraft workshops, museum animations, fairs and traditional music as well as traditional dance festivals organised here.

Part of the ASTRA National Museum Complex is the ASTRA Heritage Centre. The specialised laboratories that operate here are dedicated to the learning and development of conservation and restoration studies, based on theoretical and practical knowledge. Safeguarding heritage requires understanding, knowledge and perseverance altogether in the process of conservation and restoration of monuments and objects on which time has left the mark of physical, organic, and biological degradation.


The training course

The training course will take place at two original houses belonging to the ASTRA National Museum Complex. In particular the works will focus on two different traditional structures of roofs which have been historically typical for various regions of rural Romania – one type made of wooden shingles, the other type being thatched roofs.

The buildings are representative for the vernacular architecture in Romania and serve an important educational role by illustrating to the visitors of the museum this kind of structures and their functions in past times. For this reason, any repair or reconstruction the structures undergo must strictly follow the traditional methods of construction and handicrafts. The use of authentic materials and methods serve the purpose of accurately reproducing all original aspects of the roofs, but also contributes to the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge and techniques utilised in their construction. 

The work will be guided by specialists from the ASTRA National Museum Complex who will instruct the participants in the preparation of the material that will be used for the roof constructions – crafting wooden shingles and the straw bundles. Afterwards, the participants will learn how to assemble the different components to correctly recreate a solid and lasting roof in the two distinct traditional methods.

The works will be accompanied by presentations and exchanges on different kinds of regional roof structures as well as the reasons why these styles were applied to roof the particular types of buildings. The specialists will also provide information on the various materials used for the roofs and how roof construction styles varied through Romania reflecting regional differences in climate, topography, historical development and context.

The educational programme will be complemented by guided visits and excursions to other sites of relevance in the region which will help the participants understand better the cultural setting of their work on the site.


The training course will take place from September 11th, to September 24th, 2022 and is organised by ASTRA National Museum Complex in cooperation with European Heritage Volunteers.

European Heritage Volunteers