Alba Iulia is an important city for the history of Romania as we know it today. The city is a symbol of the unification of the Romanian territories back in 1918 into the big country of Romania. But this is just one fact about Alba Iulia, and there are more things to learn and to see from this beautiful city, so we bring to you nine things to do on a visit here.
1. Visit the fortifications of the Alba Iulia Citadel
The Alba Iulia Citadel is one of the most beautiful places in the area and one of the biggest attractions in Transylvania. Inside the fortress, there are buildings with high importance in history, since Roman Empire era to our days.
Inside the citadel, you can visit the Union Hall, the National History Museum of Unification, the Princely Palace (Voivod Palace), the Orthodox Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Batthyaneum Library, the Roman Catholic Bishop’s Palace, the Apor Palace, and the University of Alba Iulia.
Built in the 10th and 11th centuries, the Roman Catholic Cathedral is the most emblematic building in the medieval Romanic style in Transylvania and is considered to be an important monument of early Transylvanian medieval architecture.
Read more about the Alba Iulia Citadel here.
Alba Iulia Citadel
Address: Calea Moților, Numărul 5A, Alba Iulia
Website: Alba Iulia Citadel
2. Visit St. Michael's Cathedral
St. Michael’s Cathedral is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alba Iulia, Romania, and the oldest and the longest cathedral in the country. Towards the end of the 11th-century, the transversal naves and the first part of the sanctuary of the present cathedral were built in the Romanesque style. During the Mongol invasion of 1241, the church was destroyed. In the middle of the 13th-century, the cathedral was rebuilt on the old foundation, in the transitory style between Romanesque and Gothic.
St. Michael's Cathedral
Address: Strada Mihai Viteazul 21, Alba Iulia 510010
Website: St. Michael’s Cathedral
3. Visit the Union Hall
The Union Hall is part of the National Museum and was it built between 1898 and 1900. It is the building where The Great National Assembly voted the Union of Transylvania with Romania.
Visit this historic monument and relive the great day when Transylvania became part of Romania. The architecture and the collections in the museum will help you imagine life at the end of the 19th-century.
Address: Strada Muzeului, Alba Iulia
Website: National Museum of Alba Iulia
4. Take a picture at the Horea, Closca and Crisan Obelisk
The Obelisk of Horea, Closca, and Crisan is located in front of the third entrance of the Alba Iulia Citadel, and it is a reminder of the three heroes of the nation. The ASTRA Society, with the help of the population and the community, built this 22.5 meter (74 foot) statue as an homage to the three heroes that lead the revolution of 1784-1785.
Horea, Closca and Crisan Obelisk
Address: Strada Mihai Viteazul, Alba Iulia
5. Visit the Batthyaneum Library
The Batthyaneum Library from Alba Iulia was founded at the end of the 18th-century. It was organized in the edifice of a former baroque church, transformed first by the imperial army into a military hospital, then into a cultural foundation according to the wishes of the bishop of Transylvania, Ignác Batthyány.
The library contains many incunabula and old manuscripts of great value, notably the Codex Aureus from the 8th-century.
Address: Strada Gabriel Bethlen 1, Alba Iulia
Website: Batthyaneum Library
6. Take a day trip to Scarisoara Ice Cave
Scarisoara Cave (Romanian: Peștera Scărișoara), is one of the biggest ice caves from the Apuseni Mountains of the Carpathian’s. It is considered a show cave and one of the natural wonders of Romania.
The ice cave was formed 3,500 years ago, during the glaciations, when these mountains were covered with snow and ice, although the exact date that the cave was discovered is still unknown. In the touristic part of the cave, the average temperature is around 0°C (32°F).
Address: Apuseni National Park
Website: Scarisoara Cave
7. When you return, don't forget to stop at Rosia Montana
Rosia Montana – the mining town in the Apuseni Mountains, generated one of the most controversial subjects in Romania in the past years. The controversy was due to the mining project proposed by the Romanian-Canadian Company, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC).
RMCG’s plans were to exploit one of the largest gold deposits in Europe, here in Rosia Montana. The irony is that the gold and other valuable mineral deposits are what brought the Romans here, and this is how the Roman Empire expanded its territory beyond the Danube River. After all this awareness, the small village became a great attraction and a peaceful place to visit on vacation.
Rosia Montana Village
Address: Rosia Montana 517615
Website: Rosia Montana Village
8. Coronation Cathedral
The Coronation Cathedral (Romanian: Catedrala Încoronării), dedicated to the Holy Trinity and the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, is a Romanian Orthodox Cathedral located in Alba Iulia. Built soon after and in commemoration of the Union of Transylvania with Romania, it is the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of Alba Iulia.
Built in 1921–1922, the cathedral was ready in time for the coronation of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie as monarchs of Greater Romania on October 15, 1922. This event, which took place in the same city where the Union of Transylvania with Romania occurred on December 1, 1918, was meant to give the union added symbolic and religious weight.
The Coronation Cathedral
Address: Strada Mihai Viteazu 16, Alba Iulia 510010
Website: The Coronation Cathedral
9. Câlnic Fortified Church
Built in the 13th-century by Count Chyl de Kelling, the Fortified Church at Câlnic is one of the most imposing defensive structures in Transylvania. Its defense system was completed in the 16th-century when a small Romanesque chapel, surrounding walls, and a water ditch were added by the Câlnic community.
The five-story-high Siegfried Tower, the landmark of the fortress, is endowed with defensive corridors and firing windows, and an on-site medieval art museum displays various artifacts. The church is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Câlnic Fortified Church
Address: Câlnic 517205
Website: Câlnic Fortified Church
A place full of history
As you passed through all of these attractions, you will have noticed how many things have happened around this city throughout history. Starting with the Romans that conquered Dacia, then the unification of the major Romanian countries, through to other historical events, this city has witnessed some significant events, and luckily this is showcased through its museums, fortifications, churches and villages. Don’t miss out on seeing these important historical landmarks during your visit to Alba Iulia.
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