Le noyau historique de la ville d'Alba Julia

Photo by Carmen David.

Le noyau historique de la ville d'Alba Julia is part of the Tentative list of Romania in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The historic core of Alba Julia comprises monuments from various eras. It is centered within the fortifications of an old Roman camp. Notable buildings include the Catholic Cathedral of Saint-Michel (13th century with later additions), the Prince's Palace (16th century ) and the Unification Orthodox Cathedral (1922).

Map of Le noyau historique de la ville d'Alba Julia

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 26-Apr-24 -

Le noyau historique de la ville d'Alba Julia (T) by Els Slots

The small Romanian city of Alba Iulia is part of the Roman Dacian Limes nomination, but the cityscape you see nowadays dates mostly from post-medieval times. Central to it is the intact Alba Carolina Citadel, built in star-shaped Vauban style in 1738. Within the citadel’s boundaries, traffic is strictly limited which adds to the pleasant atmosphere of it all and you can admire the monuments inside its walls at ease.

Alba Iulia seems to have escaped the worst of Communist building styles that characterizes so many Romanian cities. The Romanian Orthodox Coronation Cathedral (left picture) from 1922 is eye-catching in its Brâncovan style like the Horezu Monastery. Habsburg architecture is prevalent in most other buildings and preserved as an integral ensemble.

The citadel’s streets are littered with statues of historical figures, often clothed in striking robes. The 17th century Prince of Transylvania, Gabriel Bethlen (right picture) is one of them, and there’s also Michael the Brave (symbol of Romanian unity) on horseback and the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (who raised this Roman Dacian settlement to the rank of colonia).

The city also has strong ties to the (former) Romanian royal family. At the central square stands a pyramid-shaped monument with photos in their memory. And it was where the Union between the Kingdom of Romania and Transylvania was confirmed in 1918, giving Romania the borders it has today. So it all oozes history, although related to episodes hardly known outside of Romania.

I visited on a Monday which isn’t the best of days as all museums are closed. It also prevented me from getting access to the ruins of the Roman camp at the city square, which lie under a roof as part of the Principia museum. Some further unexplained Roman remains have been unearthed and are exposed in a nearby street.  

Read more from Els Slots here.

Lisu Marian

Romania - 15-Oct-19 -

Le noyau historique de la ville d'Alba Julia (T) by Lisu Marian

Alba was a Neolithic settlement, testimonies are vestiges of the Bronze Age. Later, in the Iron one, a primal-fortress rised, and after a Dacian settlement that remained in history under the name of Apoulon.
The colonization followed, with the Imperial settlements establishing the camp of the Gemina Legion, and thus appear the first forts (located on strategic routes) that form Apulum, shortly after the conquest.
It is the 13th legion, on the known edge of the Empire, so it deserves to advance its headquarters to the rank of Municipium ( Marcus Aurelius) and the laurels come during the time of Commodus, when the Colony is made.
In medieval times there is a document under the name of Bălgrad (etymological, „fence”).
The name Alba-Carolina is only of the eighteenth century, when it appears the fortified bastion, type "Vauban" - a style imposed by the great Eugene of Savoy. For the memory of the glorious times it is preserved on the frontispieces of the access gates the imperial grandeur.
It was the replica given by the Habsburgs to the Ottomans, the defensive systems in the area were protected including by bastions, and towers on the heights.
The most imposing (and the oldest in Transylvania) building inside the complex is the Catholic Cathedral. Dedicated to Saint Michael, built from the Roman castrum stone, it is an architectural mix - 1000 years old.
The interior became in time a royal necropolis of the Huniad family. Iancu de Hunedoara remained not only an emblematic figure of the fight for the defense of the Christian faith, but due to his victory, at 12 o'clock, all the bells of the Catholic world, - the Pope gave edict. The tomb-stone has 2 crowns (Romanian and Hungarian), because it is considered to be common to both nations.
On the other side is a proud chapel - here is King Sigismund and his queen Isabella, as well as other Transylvanian noble families.
Next to it is the new Cathedral of the Reunification, the Orthodox one, in which the royal couple of Romania - Ferdinand and Maria were crowned, whose grandiose representation on the interior walls of the cathedral is unmatched.
And to honor the union, on the passage hall there is also the symbolic image of the first union of the principalities: Mihai (the Brave) and his lady, Stanca.
The whole interior, as well as the inner courtyard, presents itself impeccably, overwhelms you and forces you to remember the great history of this country, because here the Great Romania had been made. By the 14th century the Palace of the Transylvanian Princes was erected, initially there it had been an episcopal headquarters.
It was reborn, as no other construction of the place had been seen, but the beauty was a new cause of destruction, this time under the Ottomans.
In the relatively central area the ruins of the Roman fortress are well preserved. The remains of the glory road formerly on the one hand, beyond the castle at some difference of level, but also a multitude of statues recovered in time.
Behind it is the Apor Palace, now used as the headquarters of the University management, a beautiful building, with interior stairs and a decorated courtyard, erected by the care of Count Stefan Apor, a Transylvanian nobleman, with architecture specific to the seventeenth century.
In line is the Bathyaneum Library, the building being designed around 1700 as a Trinitarian church. In time it was a crypt, but also a military hospital. Even an astronomical observer, but the final role was to host an impressive and very valuable collection of original manuscripts or early prints.
For a complete picture, a visit to the History Museum and even an entrance to the Great Hall of the Union is required.

Read more from Lisu Marian here.

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