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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrCluj-Napoca is one of Romania’s biggest towns, with a population of nearly 330,000 and it also has one the country’s most developed economies. Nowadays, Cluj-Napoca is a beautiful city of culture and education, having the highest student percentage in the country.
HistoryAlso known as the Transylvanian capital, the city of Cluj-Napoca has its origins since Dacian times. After the Roman Empire took over Dacia , the city was named “Napoca” and also was advanced to the grade of “municipium”. Moreover to this, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the city progressed very well both socially and economically, therefore the Romans promoted it to the highest rank in the Roman Empire: “collonia”.
Napoca later became “Cluj”, a name which comes from the Latin “Castrum Clus”. “Clus” means “closed” and refers to the high hills that surround the town. Later on, in 1241, the Tartars completely destroyed the city but the German merchants who arrived here rebuilt it step by step. Nicknamed “Klausenburg” by the Germans and “Kolosvar” by the Hungarians, Cluj turned into Cluj-Napoca during the 1970s, when the communists decided to bring its old Roman name back to life.
ArchitectureThe main square is mainly represented by 18th-century buildings, many restaurants and shops, but the main attraction of the square is Saint Michael’s Church. Banffy Palace is another beautiful attraction located in the main square and it’s a true example of Baroque architecture. Tourists who are interested in folk architecture should definitely visit the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania.
Union SquareRenaissance, Neoclassical, Gothic, and Baroque styles are all present in this area, the square allows quick access to both Banffy Palace and Saint Michael’s Church. On the south side of the church lies the statue of one of Transylvania’s biggest rulers, Matei Corvin .
Hotel Continental is also a major attraction because of its fine architecture, combining three different styles: Classical, Baroque, and Renaissance. Just near the square is located the Pharmacy Museum, which once served as the city’s first pharmacy (between 1573 and 1949).
Saint Michael’s ChurchAs mentioned above, this well-known church is one of the most impressive Gothic wonders in Romania. Saint Michael’s Church was built between 1350 and 1487 and it was recently restored during the 1960s.
Banffy PalaceJohann Eberhard Blaumann was a German architect who designed this beautiful palace, which used to be the Austro-Hungarian Governor’s residence; it was named after the city’s governor, Banffy Gyorgy. Even if it took only one year to be build (between 1774 and 1775), Banffy Palace is definitely the most representative Baroque building in Transylvania. Since 1951, Banffy Palace has been the residence of Cluj-Napoca National Art Museum.
Calvinist Reformed ChurchThe church was erected between 1486 and 1516 and it is one of the largest churches in Eastern Europe, being a perfect representation of Gothic architecture. The statue which lies in front of the “Calvinist Reformed Church” was built back in 1373 by George and Martin and represents Saint George slaying a dragon. Nowadays, organ concerts take place here frequently.
Cluj National Art MuseumBanffy Palace has more than 20 rooms where sculptures, weapons, furniture, and paintings by world famous artists such as Theodor Pallady, Nicolae Grigorescu, and Theodor Aman are displayed. The Impressionists and the Barbizon group are the ones who influenced Aman and Grigorescu, while Pallady, who lived many years in France, took his inspiration from Matisse.
Emil Racovita Speleology and MuseumEmil Racovita (1868-1947) was a famous Romanian biologist who made some spectacular discoveries in the caves of Romania, including tracks of animals which lived thousands of years ago. The museum displays a small part of his work made at the Romanian Speleology Institute.
History Museum of TransylvaniaSince its foundation, back in 1859, the museum continues to impress its visitors with the huge collection of Transylvanian historical items. Mammoth tusks, spearheads, and skulls are only a couple of examples that illustrate the country’s progress from the Bronze and Neolithic Ages to the birth of the Roman and Dacian civilizations.
ShoppingCluj-Napoca has many centers and shopping malls, Polus Center being the biggest and Iulius Mall being the closest to the town center. Also, the center’s main avenue is crowded with antique and artisan shops.
DiningCluj-Napoca has many places where people can dine, offering all types of tastes and cuisines for every pocket. The most popular restaurant in Cluj-Napoca is Marty, a place where even the most demanding tastes are easily satisfied.
HotelsWhen talking about accommodation, Cluj-Napoca offers a wide range of hotels and motels. Grand Hotel Italia and Opera Plaza are located near the city center and are two of Cluj-Napoca’s best hotels.
TransportationThe public transportation system of Cluj-Napoca consists of trams, buses, and trolleybuses. However, the fastest way to travel long distances is by cab. Taxis aren’t so expensive in Cluj-Napoca, but the client has to make sure that the taxi-meter is turned on.
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Author: Iuliana. Last updated: Apr 26, 2015