Cluj-Napoca, or simply Cluj for short, is a city in Romania
that was once one of the Siebenburgen, or seven fortresses, that defended the region for the Hungarian king. Cluj is a city of just over 300,000 people and it is sometimes considered the (unofficial) Transylvanian capital.
Cluj, like some other Romanian cities
, was built on the remains of a Roman settlement. The Germans sent there to protect the land from invaders called it Klausenburg. By the 15th century, Klausenburg was a part of the Principality of Transylvania
. Two centuries later it was a part of the Hapsburg Empire. But Cluj was not a city to be passed from country to country so easily, and it was, in the following periods, the site of nationalist movements—both Hungarian and Romanian. The large populations of both ethnicities caused tension within the city, both during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Romanian Revolution of 1989. In recent years, Cluj has enjoyed growth in economy and tourism and attracts visitors from around the world.
Sights in Cluj-Napoca
Some of the most important sights in Cluj are included here, but a walk around the city will reveal picturesque side streets and squares full of surprises.
- Union Square: Union Square is where the famous statue of Matthias Corvinus, a 15th-century king of Hungary, is located. Here, too, is St. Michael’s Orthodox Church with its tall steeple. The Bannfy Palace, an 18th century Baroque residence, is now the Cluj National Art Museum, and the Pharmacy Museum occupies the Hintz House.
- Fortress Hill: This hill, named for the Austrian fortress built here to assert control over the land, is an ideal place for panoramic views.
- Tailors Bastian: Visit the Tailors Bastian to get a glimpse of Cluj’s former medieval fortifications. A section of the original wall stands nearby, too.
- Obelisk: The obelisk on Museum Square was given to Cluj in recognition by the Austrian Emperor.
- Franciscan Monastery: The Franciscan monastery, with its Baroque-style church, is one of the oldest religious complexes in Cluj.
- The New Synagogue: Cluj’s New Synagogue was built at the end of the 19th century then restored after destruction in the 20th.
- Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania: Transylvanian traditional culture is preserved in this museum with extensive exhibits on crafts, costumes, and beliefs of the people of the region.
- Transylvania History Museums: This museum traces the history of Transylvania from primitive times to the present with archeological exhibits and more.
- National Museum of Art: Wander through the halls of the former Banffy Palace to get an overview of the works of significant Romanian artists.
Getting to Cluj
Regular trains run from other major Romanian cities, such as Bucharest, and the International Someşeni Airport is nearby with flights from Bucharest and major European cities.
Festivals and Events in Cluj
As with any city of significant size, Cluj is host to a variety of festivals and events throughout the year that attract visitors with specific interests. Music festivals are held in June and September, the latter month during which a beer festival also occurs. Two film festivals, the Transylvania International Film Festival and Comedy Cluj, are popular events for film enthusiasts and industry associates. Taste fresh-baked breads, homemade sausages, and other local products at the summertime Slow Food Fair. If you’re in Cluj around Christmastime, you may be able to take advantage of the Cluj Christmas market, where vendors sell everything from holiday decorations, to handcrafted chocolates, and gifts. During Easter, look for traditional Romanian Easter egg
sellers, from whom you can choose a selection of colorful eggs as a souvenir or your travels.