How the Mesmerizing ‘Sibiu Eyes’ Became a Protest Symbol in Romania

The picture here has been all over the internet for years as an example of pareidolia, or things that look like other things. These small windows are set into roofs in Romania to allow ventilation into attics where food is stored, yet they are small enough to keep light from getting in. This particular house is in the city of Sibiu. Yes, they look like eyes, as if the house itself is watching you. In Romanian, you might say “Vă vedem,” which means "We see you."

Starting in the winter months of 2017, hundreds of thousands of people in Romania came out to protest, after a newly elected government moved to decriminalize corruption and put laws into place that could help politicians escape investigation. According to Transparency International, Romania is one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union and those February protests were some of the largest in Romanian history. That slogan, Vă vedem, appeared on their streets under suspicious, slanted eyes.

Almost a year later, in December 2017, protests continued, and in Sibiu, where the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, had served four terms as mayor, a group of protesters adopted the “Sibiu eyes” as their logo.

Since then, people from all over the world have been using the stylized symbol of those windows to show their support for Romanians fighting corruption. Read the story and see those symbols at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Flickr user lucianf)

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