Cluj Napoca

UNESCO TOUR - 2 - part2

Posted on 2018-05-30    Category Places to visit

Because the second day have many objectives to visit I splitted its description for you, in two parts. Today, the second part where will stay fosuced on the city of Cluj Napoca and its beauties.

The Franciscan Church in Cluj-Napoca (2, Muzeului Square) is one of the oldest and most significant buildings of the city. Initially, it was the first Roman Catholic Church in Cluj, built in 11th - 12th centuries, destroyed during the first invasion of the Mongols (1241). Later, the place was rebuilt during 1260-1290 as a Romanesque style church, later recast in the 15th century in Gothic style.

The Franciscan Monastery and Church

The church was enlarged (works in Gothic style) and a monastery was built near it, with the support of Prince John of Hunedoara, and belonged to the Dominican order. With the banishment of the Catholic religious orders by the Protestants in March 1556, the monastery building was no longer of religious use. Until 1557, Queen Isabella of Hungary lived in the building, later the church was transformed into a school (in 1558, the Unitarian School). Since 1609, at the wish of Prince Gabriel Bathory, the building was donated to the Calvinist-Reformed religion. The Franciscans, returning to the city in 1728, initiated a campaign to restore the church and tower, which is the main part in the Baroque style.

The church-monastery ensemble is accessable on three sides, around an inner courtyard open with broken archways. The monastic cells sheltered rooms, library rooms, common rooms, administrative space etc. There was also a renowned school, where Nicolaus by Mirabilibus studied, later a professor at the University of Florence.

Inside the monastery there is a famous library of the Franciscans, which collection exceeded thousand volumes. During 1906-1948, a printing press of  St. Bonaventure functioned in the monastery, where various religious magazines were printed („Catholic World”, „Holy Cross” etc.).

In 1898, the Carolina Obelisk was relocated in front of the church, from Unirii Square.

One of the more recent restorations of the building was made during 1976-1978, followed by others during 1980-1986. These occasions allowed a rediscovery of Gothic elements of the church.

The Franciscan church was confiscated in 1949, after the communist authorities decided to dissolve the Franciscan order in Romania and the monastery building housed the „School of Music“, which later became „Sigismund Toduta“ Music High School that continues to exist.  Since 1990 the church has returned to the property of the Franciscan Roman Catholic Order, along with a part of the old convent.

The Lucian Blaga National Theatre

The two cultural institutions were founded in 18th September 1919, as an expression of spiritual rebirth after the Great Union in 1918. The building which houses the „Lucian Blaga” National Theatre and the Romanian Opera was built between 1904 and 1906, as seat for the Hungarian National Theatre, by the famous Viennese firm „Fellner und Helmer”, combining stylistic elements of neo baroque and Secession. The hall has 928 seats and it is built in Neo-Baroque style. To decorate the lobby stylistic modulations were used inspired by Secession. The National Theatre and the Romanian Opera have been functioning there since 1919. The opening show of the National Theatre of Cluj took place on 1st and 2nd December 1919, with the plays „Se face ziua” by Zaharia Barsan and „Ovidiu” by Vasile Alecsandri. The „Eupharion” Studio of the National Theatre is especially designed for young artists and their creative experiments. The Romanian National Opera of Cluj Napoca is the first lyrical dramatic state institution of Romania. The inaugural show took place on 25 May 1820, with the play „Aida” by G.Verdi. More than 200 operas, operettas and ballets from the world repertoire have been put on at the Romanian Opera so far.

Matia Corvin’s Equestrian Statue (Unirii Square)

It is the work of the sculptor Ioan Fadrusz and architect Pakei Lajos and won the Great Prize at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. It was unveiled in 1902 in today’s Unirii Square. Matia Corvin is surrounded by a group of warriors: Blasiu Magyar, Pavel Chinezu, Stefan Zapolya and Stefan Bathory. The statue it is on the list of UNESCO’s memorial statues in 5th place.

The Matthia Corvinus House

The Matthia Corvinus House (or Mehffy House) is a cityish building in gothic style from the 15th century (today, Art and Design University of Cluj Napoca). In this house, which was the city’s inn in past, Matia Corvin, was born on 23rd of February 1443 the son of the vaivode of Transylvania, John Hunyadi (Ioan de Hunedoara). Matia Corvin was the greatest king of Hungary (1458-1490), he was learned, patron of arts, wise and just, being mentioned in songs and legends even today. In 1467, he acquitted the owners of the house in which he was born from paying taxes and fees to the city. This privilege was enforced by later kings and princes. The house served as different institutions. It was a college, but was also home for the ethnographic collections of the Transylvanian Carpathian Society.

Over time, the building has suffered various changes, been adapted to new architectural styles. The basement and some windows and doors which have lintels in oblique lines are charactheristic of the gothic style. During the first half of the 16th century the first elements of the Renaissance appeared: some shelves on the facade, with denticles, together with gothic elements, as well as the portal in a broken arch. The original arches were mainly replaced. During the 18th century the building was made a hospital and the courtyard suffered a few baroque changes. At the end of the 19th century, the building was in an advanced state of degradation and was restored. Many Art Nouveau, or Secession elements were introduced, being fashionable at the time. In the 1950’s Art Nouveau modifications were removed, being incompatible with the architecture of the building, which gained the present appearance.

Mirror Street (Iuliu Maniu Street)

A unique attraction in Transylvania, the West side of the street (between Unirii Square an Bolyai Street) was built symmetrically in the 19thcentury, in eclectic style, following the trends of those days, inspired by architect Hausmann who modernised Paris

The street is named after the Romanian politician Iuliu Maniu who served as Prime Minister of Romania and had an important role in the Unification of Transylvania with Romania.

Museum Square

The Central Square of the Old Fortress („Óvár”), later also known as the Small Square, as opposed to the Large Square built around St Michael’s Church, was the centre of the medieval town. We still encounter remains of the old Roman town, found by the archaeologists.

The Franciscan Church (also known as „Barátok temploma” - „Monk’s Church”) guards the eastern side of the Square. Initially, there was an older church here, which was destroyed during the Tatar invasion (1241-1243), then  a church of the Dominican order, rebuilt in the gothic style in the 15th century. Owned for a period of time by the Jesuits, in the 18th century the church was rebuilt by the Franciscans in the baroque style.

The National Museum of Transylvania

The museum has its headquarters in an architectural monument of the 19th century - The Petrichevich-Horvath Daniel House (Petrichevich was a patron of the arts and literature) which was built in neoclassic style.

The museum has been open to the public since 1937, displaying one of the largest and best organized sections on antique history in the country, a valuable collection of paintings, a ceramic collection from medieval and modern times, a medieval and an ethnographic collection.

The present collections of the museum contain over 400,000 cultural possessions from the basic exhibition that demonstrates the historical evolution and the degree of civilization in the Transylvanian territories from prehistoric times to the 1st of December 1918, illustrated by different objects from archaeological finds, medieval and modern ceramic collections, tin, glassware, weaponry, photographs and documents, books and newspapers, etc.

In 1999, The Thesaurus also opened for the public, where, in its two exhibition rooms, the visitors can find over 4,600 gold and silver pieces: Neolithic idols, antique and medieval monetary thesauri, gem jewellery, medals and decorations, and also domestic objects forged out of precious metal.

Interesting Items

  • The Egyptian Collection - an authentic mummy from the 3rd century B.C. in its painted wooden sarcophagus;
  • The stove tiles collection - contains approximately 700 pieces - preserved entire or in fragments - from the 14th-19th centuries, and also two stoves. One of them is built in a classic style and can be found in the permanent exhibition and while the other one in a folk style;
  • Oriental weaponry - battle axes and pistol-swords, crossbows and even a cannon-ball tube;
  • The furniture in different Western European styles - proof that the nobles kept pace with European fashion – it constitutes an image of a luxurious interior, complete with rugs, trousseau chests and embroideries.

The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral (Avram Iancu Square) - Romanian Orthodox Mitropoly of Cluj, Alba, Crisana, Maramures. Archiepiscopate of Vad, Feleac and Cluj (18 Avram Iancu Square). It was built between 1923-1933, according to the plans of the architects Constantin Pompoiu and George Cristinel, representing the Romanian stylistic current. It is one of the most important religious buildings in Cluj Napoca municipality.

The church is dedicated to the Assumption - the date in which the Romanian Army entered Transylvania (15th of August 1916).

In 1973, when the Diocese of Cluj was made into an Archbishopric, the church became the cathedral to match. Since 1996, the cathedral had been in a great process of outside restoration, which came to an end in 1999. Inside, a new Byzantine painting was created a famous mosaic from Murano. Since 2006, the building has served as cathedral of the Archepiscopate of Vad, Feleac and Cluj, which is contains metropolitan areas of Cluj, Alba, Crisana and Maramures.

The Ortodox Cathedral of Cluj holds an important collection of religious and documentary art, and was inaugurated in 1938, then reorganized in 1975. The main collection consists of painted icons from 17th -19th centuries and liturgical objects. The collection also includes documents regarding the history of the diocese (16th century), religious objects, icons on wood and glass (17th century), manuscripts, vestments, crosses, chalices (16th century), ethnographic printings and testimonies about the history of the Romanian people.

The Pharmacy Museum

The Pharmacy History Collection can be found in the oldest pharmacy building of Cluj-Napoca, named „La Sfântul Gheorghe”, also known as the “Hintz pharmacy”, dating back to 1573.

The museum opened in 1954; later, in 1963, the Pharmacy Museum changed its name The Pharmacy History Collection, coming under the National History Museum of Transylvania.

The museum started with a collection of Transylvanian pharmaceutical objects, owned by Professor Iuliu Orient (1869-1940). The collection was first shown in 1904 in one of the exhibition rooms at the Transylvanian Museum (Muzeul Ardelean). This collection containing 1,800 pieces was donated to the museum and it has been enriched over time through several other valuable donations that demonstrate the pharmaceutical activity in Transylvania from the 16th century to the 20th.

The room in which drugs were sold is decorated with a baroque mural painting dating back to 1766. This decoration is one typical to Romania.

The original furniture is from the 17th century to the 19th century. Old pharmaceutical  recipies, pharmaceutical products, old books and important documents can be found here. The substance room contains over 200 wooden pharmaceutical recipies from the 17th-19th centuries. The pharmacists used this type of recipies to preserve powder from medicinal herbs and some mineral powder. There is also a wooden mobile pharmacy with many labelled medicine bottles contained in its drawers.

The pharmacy’s basement looks like a medieval chemistry laboratory where only the pharmacist and his assistants had access. Tools that were used in the past for the preparations of healing potions are displayed here, amongst with glass storage jars, copper distillers, drip device (an installation for extracting tinctures), bowls made out of bronze and copper, pharmaceutical containers and tin measurement tools, wooden mixers, antique glass, ceramic and wooden storage devices, bronze and cast iron jars.

Interesting  Items:

  • On one of the cabinet’s doors there is a graphic representation of man’s life cycle: childhood, youth, adulthood, and death;
  • Esculap’s two serpents surrounding the tree of life;
  • A map of every certified pharmaceutical company in Transylvania from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 18th century can be found in the main lobby;
  • Pulvis mumiae vere (mummy powder) and gemstone powder, both of universal use;
  • Hyraceum: animal product (African badger) with multiple medical uses: epilepsy, hysteria;
  • Venetian theriac used as antidote against poisoning;
  • Syrian asphalt used for treating rheumatic diseases;
  • Coral powder and lobster eyes - natural calcium sources.

Entry fee: 5,2 RON; students and senior citizens: 3,1 RON

Photo fee: 25 RON


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 10.00 to 16.00 Thursday from 12.00 to 18.00 Saturday, Sunday closed.

The Roman Catholic St. Michael Cathedral

The Roman Catholic „Saint Michael“ Church (Unirii Square), a great historical and religious architectural monument is one of the most imposing gothic edifices of our country. It was built between 1350 and 1480, being the first hall church in Transylvania.

The main portal, carved in 1444 in gothic style, ends with a high crest, showing in the central part the carved image of archangel Michael. The tower at  the north facade was built between 1834 and 1863 in neo gothic style and it is 80 m. high, including the cross.

The inside and outside decorations and the baroque carved pulpit are also remarkable. An extraordinary Renaissance piece is the portal of the sacristy, (1528) with Italian motifs and a strong south-German influence. The body of the pulpit, in baroque style, was carved by Johannes Nachtigall and Anton Schuhbauer. The mural picture, of which a fragment is kept, shows stylistic influences from northern Italy and reveals the first signs of the Renaisssance in painting from Cluj-Napoca.

Simion Barnutiu Central Park

Being a 180 years old, this is one of the main recreation places of Cluj-Napoca, situated on the banks of Somesul Mic.

The history of the park began in 1827, when the Women`s  Charity Association rented the field to set up a recreation place. The park was opened to the public in the early 1830, being initially named The Park of the People.

In the second half of the 19th century a Park Comission, was established to administer it Afterwards, the paths and the lake were set out and the music pavilion was built. Also in the park, was inaugurated the Summer Theatre, with a cinematography section, which is today the residence of the Hungarian State Theatre.

Near the park, in the inter-war period, the De Gerando Upper girls`school functioned, named after the first head mistress, Antonina de Gerardo. Nowadays, the building belongs to Babes-Bolyai University and houses the Faculty of Chemistry. In the park, there are situated the statues of Liviu Rebreanu and George Cosbuc, built at the end of the 1960s and the building of the Painting Section of the „Ion Andreescu” Art and Design University. Recently, there hasn`t been much investment in the park, but the reconstruction of the paths has started and the lake was populated with various fish species, the surface of the lake being colonised by ducks, well fed by children and lovers.

The Union Square

The current Unirii Square in Cluj formed the core of the medieval city, clustered around the Church of St. Michael. The medieval city walls mark the historic city centre. The square is the largest in size (about 220 m/160 m) of the old squares in central and south-eastern Europe. There are bigger squares, but they were formed much later.

Historically it was  the second main square of Cluj, after the Small Square (now called the Museum Square). In the Middle Ages it was called the Big Square in order to distinguish it from the other square, the Small Square. In the late nineteenth century the name was changed into Main Square. In the early twentieth century the square was called King Matthias. After 1918 the square received the name of Union Square. During the communist government the name was changed into Liberty Square. In slang it is also called the Big Square or simply, the Centre.

In the middle of the square is the Church of St. Michael and the Statue of Matya  Corvinus. The square is surrounded by famous buildings: on the eastern we find the Banffy Palace, which now houses the Museum of Art, and two buildings constructed reflecting each other, from which starts Iuliu Maniu street. On the southern side of the square is the Old City Hall and the National Bank. On the southwest corner we can see the building of Continental Hotel, built in 1894.

The end of the day, will be obviously in Cluj Napoca at the Napoca Hotel.

Cluj Napoca
Cluj Napoca