Cluj-Napoca. What to visit in the capital of Transylvania?

The second part of the name of the city – “Napoca” – is very ancient. At the beginning of the 2nd century, the Roman emperor Trajan founded the base of the Roman legion on this site, calling it by this name. During the Great Migration of Nations, Napoca was destroyed, but the Roman-speaking culture in the vicinity of the city was preserved. In the 13th century, Transylvania was subjugated by the Hungarians, and the city received the Hungarian name “Cluj”. Cluj (from the Latin “clavus”) translates as “hill” or “slope”. And this is no coincidence. The local landscape is hilly and the city is especially picturesque from this. At the end of the 20th century, it was decided to combine two names: “Cluj-Napoca” happened, but locals, as a rule, call their hometown simply “Cluj”.

Cluj has a very long story. It was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary, Hungary, and Romania. Gothic cathedrals, baroque and neoclassical mansions coexist beautifully with the socialist heritage and modern art. We have selected some of the places in.

Unity Square

The main city square is surrounded by buildings built in a variety of styles: from Baroque and Gothic to Renaissance and neoclassical. Here you can see a monument to the Hungarian king Matey Korvin, as well as the famous St. Michael’s Church, Banffy Palace, and the Continental Hotel. During the Second World War, this hotel was the Transylvanian headquarters of German troops. On the other side of the square is the Khints house, which housed the first pharmacy in Cluj (1573-1949): now there is the Pharmacy Museum. Around the square – restaurants, cafes, and bakeries for every taste.

Church of St. Michael

The most beautiful Gothic temple of Transylvania was built between 1350 and 1487 on the site of the former chapel of St. Jacob. After this, the church was completed – in 1860, a neo-Gothic tower was added to it. The Church of St. Michael is the real treasure of Cluj. Her stained glass windows and sculptures are truly impressive. And during the restoration, there were discovered murals of the beginning of the XV century.

Banffy Palace, aka National Museum of Art

The baroque palace was designed and built-in 1775 by the German architect Johann Eberhard Vlaumann for the governor of the city of Banff Giorgi. In 1951, the National Museum of Art was opened here. In 22 halls of the palace are objects of art, sculpture, and paintings. The museum has an excellent collection of works by Romanian artists, the most famous of which are Nicolae Grigorescu, Theodor Aman and Theodor Palladio.

Rampart hill

The meeting place of Clujian youth and at the same time the most romantic and mysterious place of the city is Fortress Hill. It offers beautiful views of the city and the surrounding hills. The name of the hill goes back to the Austrian fortress, which was built here in the XVIII century. The fortress was also used as a prison. For example, it contained Stefan Ludwig Roth, the hero of the Transylvanian Saxons (1848), who was accused of treason and executed.

Botanical Garden Alexandru Boozy

One of the largest botanical gardens in southeastern Europe, cozy and picturesque, it holds about 10,000 species of plants. There are a museum and several greenhouses with plants of deserts and tropics. The most famous exhibits of the garden are huge Amazonian water lilies and a Roman garden with archaeological relics from the times of the mentioned Roman colony of Napoca.

Emil Rakovita Museum and the National Museum of the History of Transylvania

The Museum of Emil Rakovita is a completely unique museum in Europe. It presents an extensive collection of Emil Rakovita (1868-1947), the famous Romanian biologist who founded the Speleology Institute of Romania in 1920. He studied the caves of Romania and collected a variety of fossils, preserving the imprints of animals that died millennia ago. 

And the National Museum of the History of Transylvania presents the history of the region since the Paleolithic. The museum has 400,000 exhibits. For at least a superficial acquaintance with them, you can safely highlight the whole day.

New synagogue

The majestic Moorish-style synagogue is known today as the Memorial Temple of the Deportees (in memory of Romanian Jews who suffered during the Holocaust). It was designed by Gegner Isidore and opened on September 4, 1887. After 40 years, the synagogue was destroyed by the national fascist organization Iron Guard. In 1951, the synagogue was restored.

Fabrica de Pensule or Brush Plant

In the past, a factory for the production of brushes, and now – the center of the artistic life of the city. Galleries of Romanian artists are located here and performances and concerts are held here. If you want to see how modern Cluj breathes and is inspired, then this is the most suitable place to feel the spirit of the young inhabitants of the city and Bohemia. And besides, Fabrica de Peninsula is a great example of transforming an industrial building into a cultural center.

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