The second day
Today we are going to Cluj Napoca, but, first we have to visit the largest medieval castle from Romania, placed in Hunedoara and the most beautiful, and also, the largest Vauban fortress from our country, the one from Alba Iulia. All the places from today are part of our history. The way from Sibiu to Alba Iulia, goes to the highway A1, and cross the hills and the valleys from the area. It is an area where the Romanians are born, lived and creates culture and spirituality, since years. Arriving to Simeria , will exit the highway and will take the DN ( National Road) to Hunedoara. Here, in a city which was in the 6-th, 7th and 8-th decades of the 20 century, a big industrial center into the steel industry, today you are finding only the Hunedoara Castle because the huge factory which existed here was demolished and destroyed by the politicians which does destroyed an economy of a country as Romania. You will see at the seides of the road the ruines of the steel industry from 20 years ago. Will arrive to the castle our target in this day and the silent observer of more then 6 centuries of history
Contemporary documents mention the existence of a stronghold in the XIV century situated on the current site of the castle; a royal fortress with an elliptical shape and a refuge tower at the north wing, protected on the South side by a stone wall. This estate belonging to the D’Anjou family became the property of the Corvins at the beginning of the XV century (1409), during the time of the romanian nobleman Voicu. It was given to them, including the fortress and the estate of Hunedoara. During this time the name of the Corvins was mentioned, when king Sigismund of Luxemburg offered the above estate and the castle as reward for special military excellence.
Voicu’s son, Ioan of Hunedoara (Johannes Corvin of Hunyad) enlarged the construction from the XIV century. As a result of two successive construction stages a new wall was developed between 1441-1446, equipped with 7 protective towers. He also built most of the Chapel, the proper palace (The Council Hall, The Knights Hall) the tower of the winding stairway and to the South side household facilities, during the second stage (1446 - 1453). After a number of confrontations with the Ottoman Empire, Ioan Corvin named the military governor of the Hungarian Kingdom, died after the battle at Belgrade (1456). Elisabteh Szilagy, his wife and their son, Matthew Corvin one of the best kings of medieval Hungary, had built the loggia in the North wing, completed the construction of the Chapel and the Council chamber and continued the work of improving the castle.
In the XV century the castle was a unique example of a nobleman fortified residence for the Transylvanian area dwelling combining specific elements of late Gothic and early Renaissance style. The Corvins owned the castle and the state of Hunedoara until to 1508, followed by other owners until the XVIII century, when the castle and estate became the property of the Hapsburg Empire, and the castle itself was turned into administrative headquarters for the mines as well as storage for iron products (1724-1854).
The destiny of the castle is linked in the XVII century with the personality of Prince Gabriel Bethlen (1613-1629) who had some interior modifications executed. He remodelled the castle to suit the defensive demands of the time, by having the white tower, the artillery platform, the inner walls and the Bethlen wing, two new entrances into the castle opened to the new gate tower.
After a series of minor modifications and fires, the last fire in 1854 destroyed the whole wooden structure of the castle. The first restoration work started in 1868-1874. As a result the roof of the castle was replaced with a tile roof, some of the towers were more elevated, a neo Gothic facade was built next to the bethlen palace, and some interior works and fittings were undertaken.
Turning the castle into a museum occurred in 1974 preceded by another restoration and consolidation stage (1956-1968).
From 1997, the restoration work continued and we have the castle in a perfect condition. From, here will take a lunch at one of the restaurants which are everywhere in Hunedoara and then, to the highway, again going to Alba Iulia.
Good to mention that we are in the area where existed 2000 years ago the powerfull state of the Dacians, our direct ancestors, so rich and so powerfull then the romans preffered to conquer the western half rather to having them free.
When you will go between Simeria and Orastie on the right side of the road you`ll see a monument which marks the place where, was discovered in 1967 some stone tablets covered with a writing identical with the one discovered in Sumer, and considered the first writing in the world. Only the writing discovered here is 3000 years older then the one from Sumer. As you can observe Romania is not an ordinary country in Europe or in the world, but one very important by its contributions.
Next stop will be in Alba Iulia. The city, Alba Iulia has an interesting history. First, when the Roman legions, the XIIIth Gemina and the Vth Macedonica camped here, a Roman fortification was built from white stone like milk. Because of that, after the appearance of the south Slavic, Romanians named the city using a Slavic word, Balgrad, which means The White City.
Later on the Hungarians called it Gyulafehervar - the city of July, and the Austrians named it Alba Carolina (Alb in Romanian meaning white and Carolina was taken after the name of the emperor Carol the VI). In the end Romanians mixed all those names and called it Alba Iulia (The White July).
The city has three fortifications, The Roman, The Medieval and The Vauban one, from the XVIII century. Also it is considered to be the Unification City because this is where Mihai Viteazul entered victorious in 1600 (after winning a battle at Selimbar near Sibiu) through a gate situated where the Capistrano Bastion now is (Pub 13).
Also, here, at the third gateway under the statue of the emperor Carol VI, Horea was imprisoned, a Romanian hero from Transylvania. The rebellion in 1784 of the Romanian peasants of Transylvania started because of the poor living conditions and the lack of social rights. Earlier in 1438, the Germans, the Hungarians and the Roman Catholic priests from Transylvania signed a pact in which Romanians were tolerated in their own country, but without any social or political rights. At the beginning, their leaders were supported by the emperor Franz Josjef to start a rebellion against the Hungarian aristocracy, who were claiming more rights than they had already. Horea, Closca and Crisan started the rebellion having the word of the emperor that their social and political requests would br granted. In the end, scared by the rebellion, the emperor made a deal with the nobles from Transylvania and ordered baron Bruckental, the governor of Transylvania, to capture the leaders and try them. They were captured and imprisoned near ( under ) that statue. One of them, Crisan killed himself and the other two were executed in front of the gate with a cartwheel crushing every bone in their body.
The city is important also because in 1922 as monarchs of Larger Romania, Ferdinand and Mary were crowned in the Cathedral of Reunification specially built for this event and situated on the other side of the Roman Catholic Cathedral where Iancu of Hunedoara is buried.
It is important to visit the „Route of the three fortification“ where you can see the main gate of the roman fortification, apart from the medieval walls and the splendid Vauban fortification.
A beautiful and charming city which reveals its secrets when you are there.
From Alba iulia will continue trough Aiud and Teius to Cluj Napoca. Before, we can stop at Turda to visit the salt mine.
Turda - Salt Mine
Forming of the salt deposits deposits in Transylvania took place 13,6 – 13,4 million years ago. The tectonic plate movements made elongated folds oriented from N-S into the east and west of Transylvania. At the centre is situated salt like seeds working towards the surface.
Starting with the second half of the XVIIIth century the Hasburg administration started the salt exploitation at Turda. Until 1862 the salt was extracted from the mine shafts called „Iosif”, „Tereza” and „Anton”. The last one had 108 m. in depth. To make transportation easy in 1853 was decided construct a transportation gallery starting from New Turda. This gallery called „Franz Iosif” in 1870 reached a length of 780 m. being extended at the end of the century by 137 m.
Here you can visit „Terezia Mine” which is a shaft with a depth of 90 m. from the balcony and 112 meters from the surface; at the bottom is an underground lake of 4-6 m. depth and 70 m. diameter with an island made from salt which is 5 m. high. The water from the lake is full of salt and on the northern wall of the mine shaft is a „salt waterfall” formed from the salt drilled from the Romanian shafts which attracts your attention by the contrast between the white of the salt walls and appearacnce of rough marble of the salt walls. The work at this mine shaft started in 1690.
Inside are elevators and stairs and the mine is beautiful.
Cluj Napoca, In 1316 after the Hungarian conquest of Transylvania, Cluj obtained the privilege of “Civita”, and later in the XIV-XV centuries became one of the most important and imposing cities in Transylvania.
In 1437 the peasants rose against the regime and the Hungarian oppression at Bobalna near Cluj. Beginning from the XVIth century the city developed mostly as a cultural centre. In 1550 the first printing press started to function and in 1850 the gates of an Academy opened with three departments (theology, philosophy and Law). It was replaced in 1776 by a university.
Between 1683 - 1699, Cluj was under Austrian occupation and the residence of the Governor of Transylvania moved there in 1790. In 1848 people from Cluj participated in the revolution fighting for the rights of the Romanians and in 1918 the people signed the documents of union of Transylvania with Romania. Now it is one of the most important cities of Romania and the most important university centre.
„Alexandru Borza” Botanical Garden
„Alexandru Borza” Botanical Garden (42 Republicii Street) - Being a national museum, the garden was founded in 1872, having an initial surface of 4.3 hectares. Thanks to prof. A. Richter, the surface has increased to 9.6 hectares.
In 1920, professor Alexandru Borza created the plan for a new more elaborate botanical garden, which was carried out from 1920 to 1930. Nowadays, the garden has a surface of 14 hectares, a height difference of 20 m and is divided into various sectors, with 11.000 exhibits: the ornamental sector (The Mediteranean Garden, Rosarium, The Japanese Garden), the phyto-geographic sector (the plants are arranged according to their natural location - The Roman Garden), the systematic sector (the plants are organized by phylo-genetic principles), the economic and medical sector, the sector of rare and endemic plants of Romania’s flora.
The two groups of greenhouses, having a surface of 3500 m2, with tropical plants of great scientific and utilitarian interest, are remarkable. In the precincts of the Botanical Garden functions the Botanical Institute, with its two components: the Botanical Museum (6910 botanical pieces, representing exotic and indigenous plant exhibits) and the Herbarium (660000 herbarium sheets of dried plants - arranged in special lockers).
Entrance price: 5 lei /person; free admittance for the students and employees of Babes-Bolyai University, on showing the student note book and job identification card. The pupils and students outside the Babes-Bolyai University benefit from a 50% price cut.
Avram Iancu Square
On the western part of the old city walls, guarded by three bastions and gates, this square was initially a marketplace, which was going to be moved to the central square. Eventually, the marketplace was moved closer to the railway, in the current location of Mihai Viteazul square. At the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century the walls and gates of the city were demolished, and a small park was arranged in this square.
Later, new buildings were erected here, such as the National Theatre the Orthodox Cathedral, the building of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Art Nouveau style (today, the office of the Cluj Prefecture); the building of the old „Unió” Masonic Lodge (no. 7 Avram Iancu Sq.); the building of the old military garrison (today, the building of the County School Inspectorate, also called the „red building”, a name earned by its red brick walls ); the Palace of Justice, where the Court of Appeal and the Tribunal sit; the EMKE Palace (Hungarian Cultural Association of Transylvania), later purchased by MÁV (Magyar Államvasútak, Hungarian State Railway), currently the headquarters of the CFR Regional Office; the building of the Archbishopric of Vad, Feleac and Cluj, which houses the Faculty of Orthodox Theology and the building of the Protestant Theology, on the old site of the Reformed Church’s Prayer House.
The Babes-Bolyai University
The Babes-Bolyai University (1, Mihail Kogalniceanu Street)
Its history dates from 1567, when Prince Ioan Sigismund established an Academy of Studies in Sebes-Alba. In 1581, Stefan Bathory founded a college in Cluj, under the control of the Jesuits, later annulled. The Protestants, the Unitarians, the Calvinists and the Catholics established, one by one, other colleges. In 1776, the Empress Maria Teresa established a German university in Cluj which was replaced afterwards by the famous Piarist High school, with classes in Latin.
In 1848, during the European revolutions along with the nation’s affirmation, people considered a University teaching in Romanian. Following the Romanians’ request, it was suggested, in 1868, the foundation of a University in Cluj teaching in Romanian, Hungarian and German, but the 1872 authorities established the University of Cluj only in Hungarian. After World War 1, during the Great Union from 1918, the University of Cluj, like the universities of Strasbourg and Bratislava, were taken over by the authorities and transformed into Romanian institutions. The Hungarian professors who refused to take the oath of faith to the new State of Romania established a Hungarian University in Szeged. In May 12th, 1919 The Romanian University of Cluj was founded but, in 1940, because of the Vienna Diktat, the University was moved to Timisoara and Sibiu and the Hungarian University from Szeged was brought to Cluj. After World War 2 and the cancellation of the Vienna Diktat, in 1945 the Romanian authorities established the Hungarian University called « Bolyai », and the two universities finally merged in 1959 under the name « Babes-Bolyai University », after the names of the two intellectuals: the biologist Victor Babes and the mathematician Janos Bolyai.
Nowadays, the Babes-Bolyai University is one of the most important institutions of public higher education in the country, with over 56,000 students.
The University is distinguished as a multicultural institution. Among its 21 faculties, 17 offer study programs in Romanian and Hungarian, 11 in Romanian and German.
Salvanu is a memorial to the martyrs of 1848 Revolution. The Cross on The Fortress Hill was placed here in 1995, in order to replace the one demolished in 1950 by the communist authorities.
The Ehtnographic Museum of Transilvania
Founded in 1922 by professor Romulus Voia, the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania became the elite of the Romanian ethnographic museums, due to the exceptional quality of its patrimony.It is currently composed of over 41.000 traditional peasant objects from 17th-20th centuries and a documentary collection of over 80.000 items. The museum has two sections: the Pavilion Section and „Romulus Vuia” ethnographic Park (the open-air section). The Pavilion Section functions in „Reduta” Palace a historical monument that dates since the 16th century. The current pavilion exhibition, opened on 16th of December and called „Traditional folk culture from Transylvania in the 18th-20th centuries”, demonstrates, the way in which the Transylvanian peasantry lived two centuries ago. As testeamonies remained simple tools or ingenious equipment used in domestic activities, culminating with rich folk costume, which showed not only the age, but also the social position of the one who wore them. There are also traditional and seasonal costumes of the life cycle, which highlight the regional and ethnic identity. Curiosities: With a history of more than 80 years, the museum is the greatest of this kind in Romania and among the most prestigious in Europe (the 6th ) The museum functions in the „Reduta” building, which housed during 1848-1865 the Transylvanian Diet. The famous trial of the authors of the Transylvanian Memorandum took place in this building in 1894-1895. It has 50.000 photos, 5.000 images on film 12.000 specialised magazines. The tariff for adults is 6 lei, for pupils, students and pensioners- 3 lei. Tariff for taking photos: 15 lei. Tariff for video: 25 lei.