This is a small town in Romania, but an important location. It is located just 11 km from the highway and was a must see destination on my list…
Alba Iulia has been around since Roman times.
After the victory of AD 105-6 AD over the Dacians, the Romans built the city of Apulunum here.
The city was very important because it made it possible to control the gold mines in the surrounding mountains, so the town was named the City of Gold.
Rewind the movie and a thousand years later, here is the biggest fortress in Romania, Alba Carolina.
The fortress was built at the request of Charles VI in the 18th century on the site of a former Roman fort to serve as a defense against the Ottoman invasion.
It took 20,000 workers to build it. It extends over 140 hectares, has six gates, three star-shaped defense rings, numerous towers, with 10,000 soldiers permanently residing there.
It was designed by the Italian architect Djovani Visconti. Although it was created to protect against Turkish invasion, it was destroyed by the Hungarians who had bombed it for almost four months.
The renovation took almost 15 years and today it looks like this.
Why is it important for Romanians? Because it is a place where the three main areas united in 1918, and that’s how Romania came into existence within the borders we know today.
So the walk through the fort we start at:
At the site of the great unification of Transylvania with Romania, the coronation of Ferdinand I and Queen Mary, the first monarchs of Greater Romania, took place in 1922. The protocol was explicitly taken into account, and since King Ferdinand was Catholic, the coronation was held in the courtyard of the Orthodox Church.
On the day of his coronation, the Romanian patriarch held a special mass for two crowns. The king accepted the crown from the patriarch and put it, with his own HANDS, on his head.
The crown was made of steel cast from a seized Turkish cannon. The new king placed the gold crown on Mary’s head, who was kneeling beside him, himself.
There were earlier attempts to unite the Romanian areas, which is why there can be found a monument to one such hero in the fortress.
Mihail the Brave or Mihai Viteazul, a Romanian national hero who lived in the second half of the 16th century. He was the first to temporarily unite Valencia, Moldova and Transylvania for defense against the Turkish invasion. The unification attended by over 100,000 Romanians took place only in 1918.
St. Michael’s Cathedral
Here is also the tomb of the well known Sibinjan Janko (Janos Hunjadi), who was owed much by Belgrade but he did not die a soldier’s death. He was killed by the plague when he returned home.
Janos Hunjadi had two sons and one of them is the often mentioned Matija Korvin who became the first king to have no dynastic heritage thanks to his merits.
A monument to the rebellion of Romanian workers
This monument is called by Romanians the Obelisk dedicated to the leaders of the 18th century rebellion.
Horea, Closca and Crisan were locked up in a nearby tower before being executed.
The gates of Alba Iulia
The entrance gates are something that must be given special attention.
There used to be six, but today there are three main ones that are decorated and lead directly to the center of the fort.
At the gate, a king with Turkish prisoners is represented, in a Roman tunica with the double-crowned eagle of Habsburg.
Alba Julia also has a lot of bronze statues with which you can sit down and have interesting ‘conversations’.
There are 25 of them and they are made to evoke the atmosphere in the 17th century.
One of them represents St. Anthony teaching children about God, the other graduates, the third ….. make your own story.
The Union Museum
The museum is placed in a building that used to house soldiers, but it is also part of the building where a major unification decision was made. The museum has over 130,000 exhibits in 100 rooms covering everything from prehistory, Dacian and Roman to battles with the Ottoman Empire, and World War II until unification.
Change of the guard
The main attraction that happens every day at 12 noon, May through September. On the weekends, things get even more interesting as the cannon is fired and the flag is raised.
In the summer, you can watch a real ‘battle’ between the Romans and Dacians so if you happen to be in Alba Iulia on those days, I recommend it.
You can find the exact schedule on the site here.
It’s not a bad thing to be disabled in Alba Carolina. It’s nice to walk around the fort, I didn’t find any obstacles.
However, Romanians speak very little English, so it is very difficult to get the right information, although they show a great desire to help. I almost missed this beautiful place because of the wrong entrance.
Always go to the main entrance if you know where it is.
And finally, it’s time for a little ‘snack’.
A picture is worth a 1000 words…
Traveled and enjoyed,