Cluj-Napoca, Romania: 25-29 July 2012



Overview. Cluj-Napoca is the second most populous city in Romania and the capital of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. It is considered to be the most important city from the historical region. Transylvania. According to the 2009 census there are about 306,000 inhabitants. The city has a surface area of 179.5 square km. It lies at the confluence of the Apuseni Mountains, the Someş plateau and the Transylvanian plain. Cluj-Napoca is surrounded on three sides by hills with heights between 500 and 700 metres, covered by forests and grasslands. The continental climate is characterized by warm dry summers and cold winters. In summer, the average temperature is approximately 18°C, but maximums sometimes reach 35°C to 40 °C in mid-summer in the city centre. Average precipitation and humidity during summer is low but there are infrequent heavy rains or storms.

For more detailed information about Cluj-Napoca you can visit the following external links:


Cluj Napoca: Heart of Transylvania-full version from Laviniu Lazar on Vimeo.

Getting to Cluj. There are several ways to get to Cluj:

Tourist tips for accompanying persons

In Cluj

This western city in the region of Transylvania traces its origins back to the Dacian settlement of Napuca in the 2-nd century A.D. After the Roman take-over of Dacia, it was renamed Napoca and in 124 A.D., received the rank of "municipium". The city quickly advanced socially and economically and during Marcus Aurelius' reign Napoca received the title "colonia", the highest possible urban status in the Roman Empire.The name Cluj comes from Castrum Clus, first used in the 12-th century as the name of the citadel surrounding the city. Clus means "closed" in Latin and refers to the hills that surround the city.German merchants, who arrived here in the 12th century, rebuilt the medieval earthen walls of Clus in stone after the Tartar invasion of 1241. Known as Klausenburg to the Germans* and Kolosvar to the Hungarians, Cluj became Cluj Napoca in the 1970s, when the communist regime added the name of the old Roman settlement to emphasize its Daco-Roman origin.With one of the most vibrant economies in the country and a population of around 330,000, Cluj, is today a vibrant cultural and educational city. The six state and several private universities located here also make Cluj Napoca the city with the largest percentage of student population in Romania.

Union Square (Piata Unirii)

Featuring baroque, gothic, Renaissance and neoclassical buildings, the square allows for quick access to St. Michael's Church and the Banffy Palace. Flanking the church on the south side is a 1902 equestrian statue of the 15-th century ruler, Matei Corvin. In the southwest corner of the square stands Hotel Continental, built in 1895 in an eclectic style combining Renaissance, classical and baroque elements. During World War II, the hotel served as the German military headquarters in Transylvania. St. Michael's Church (Biserica Sfantul Mihail) is one of the most beautiful gothic monuments in Transylvania. St. Michael's Church was erected between 1350 and 1487 on the site of the former St. Jacob's Chapel. The altar, built around 1390, is the oldest part of the church. The most recent section is the tower, erected in neo-gothic style in 1860. The star-shaped vault, the stained-glass windows and the sculptures impress with their beauty and grandeur. Repeated restorations revealed early 15th century murals. The latest restoration took place between 1957 and 1960. Across the square, you can visit the Hintz House, which served as Cluj's first and longest-running pharmacy (1573-1949) and is now home to the Pharmacy Museum. In the same square you can visit the Banffy Palace (Palatul Banffy), an imposing former residence of the Austro-Hungarian governors, Banffy Palace was designed by the German architect, Johann Eberhard Blaumann, for then-governor of the city, Banffy Gyorgy. Built between 1774 and 1775, it is considered the most representative example of baroque style in Transylvania. In 1951, the palace became the home of the Cluj National Art Museum.

Historical center

Calvinist Reformed Church (Biserica Reformata) - Mihail Kogalniceanu street no. 16. The building of this impressive church began in 1486 and was completed around 1516, with a pulpit added in 1646. The church, one of the largest in southeastern Europe, is a perfect illustration of the late gothic architectural style. Created in 1373 by the masters Martin and George of Cluj, the statue of St. George slaying the dragon, which stands in front of the church, was inspired by one of the world's most famous equestrian sculptures, a 14-th century statue displayed in centre of Prague. Organ concerts are frequently held in the church.

Tailors' Bastion (Bastionul Croitorilor) - Piata Baba Novac. Dating from 1550, Tailors' Bastion is the only such structure still standing from the medieval fortified city.

Other tourist attraction

Fortress Hill (Dealul Cetatuia). For the best views of the city and the surrounding landscape, climb some 200 feet up Fortress Hill. The name refers to an Austrian fortress built here in the 18-th century to ensure control, rather than defense, of the city. The fortress also served occasionally as a prison, and it was here that Stephan Ludwig Roth, the 1848 hero of the Transylvanian Saxons, was held, accused of high treason and executed at the northern gate on May 11, 1849.

Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden (Gradina Botanica Alexadru Borza). Address: Str. Gheorghe Bilascu 42. Open: Mon. - Sun. 9:00am - 8:00pm. Admission charge. Cluj-Napoca Botanical Garden, one of the largest in southeastern Europe, is home to some 10,000 plant species. Within the grounds, you can visit a museum; several greenhouses with desert and tropical plants, including huge Amazonian water lilies; a Japanese garden with a brook and a Japanese-style house, and the Roman Garden with archeological relics from the Roman colony of Napoca.

St. Peter and Paul Church (Biserica Sf. Petru si Pavel)- Blvd. 21 Decembrie 1989. Named for the apostles Peter and Paul, this gothic church was built between 1844 and 1848 on the foundation of an earlier church. The imposing portal at the entrance was built by a priest, Biro Jozsef, after the Black Death struck the town (1738-1742). A statue of Saint Archangel Michael is centered above the main entrance, flanked on the left by John the Baptist, Saint Sebastian and Saint Charles Borromei, and on the right by Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Rocus and Saint John Nepomuc. The portal was moved here in 1899 from its former location at St. Michael's Church and was recently restored. The statue of St. Mary is a beautiful and valuable baroque work of art by sculptor Schenbauer Antal, who created it for the consul, Kornis Antal, in 1744. The statue was removed from its former location at the crossroads of Kogalniceanu and Universitatii Streets and placed in the yard behind the church in 1961.

Speleology Museum. Open: Mon. - Fri. 9:00am - 5:00pm; Closed Sat. & Sun. Admission charge. The museum displays the fascinating collection of renowned Romanian biologist, Emila Racovita (1868-1947), who set up the Romanian Speleology Institute in 1920. Here, you can admire some of the discoveries made by Racovita in the spectacular caves of Romania, including different types of rocks which preserve the traces of animals that died thousands of years ago.

Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania (Muzeul Etnografic al Transilvaniei). Address: Str. Memorandumului 21. Open: Tue. - Fri. 9:00am - 4:00pm; Sat. - Sun. 9:00am - 1:00pm; Closed Mon. Admission charge. Endowed with a collection of more than 65,000 ethnographic items, the museum offers an excellent introduction to Transylvanian folk art and traditions. Founded in 1922, it is one of the most important ethnographic museums in Romania. Its various sections, devoted to trades, lodging, food, pottery, textiles, national costumes and customs, include more than 50,000 photographs as well as open-air and international sections. Together, they paint an image of Transylvania's folk culture.

Romulus Vuia Ethnographic Park (Parcul Etnografic Romulus Vuia). Address: Str. Taietura Turcului. Open: Tue. - Sun. 10:00am - 6:00pm; Closed Mon. Admission charge. Founded in 1929, the park exhibits some 90 Romanian, Saxon and Szekler traditional houses, sawmills, wells, potter's workshops, sheepfolds and outbuildings for grinding gold-bearing ores, sheep rearing, blacksmithing and tanning hides. The park also contains several 18th century wooden churches from the Transylvania region.

History Museum of Transylvania (Muzeul National de Istorie al Transilvaniei). Address: Str. Dr. Daicovici 2. Open: Tue. - Sun. 10:00am - 4:00pm; Closed Mon. Admission charge. Founded in 1859, this museum illustrates the history of Transylvania from Paleolithic times to the present. The size of the collection has grown from about 24,000 items in the 1870s to more than 400,000 today, including many rare or extremely valuable objects. Strange skulls, mammoth tusks, arrow- and spearheads illustrate the progress from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the rise of the Dacian civilization, which reached its peak between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D. The sections for medieval, modern and contemporary history and the Numismatic Cabinet contain collections of decorative art, ancient books, old printings, memoirs, history and coins.

Central Park (Parcul Central). Hire a boat to row on the small lake or just enjoy a stroll in this 180-year old park.

Around Cluj

Turda - half day trip [details]. The city of Turda, with over 60,000 residents, is the biggest city on the Aries River – the gateway to the Apuseni Mountains. The city’s varied history meets you at every pass. Nature was generous with this land, creating places of unequaled beauty.

Medieval town of Bistrita - 1 day trip [details]. Located at the foot of the Bargau Mountains, not far from the Borgo Pass (Pasul Tihuta in Romanian) which connects Transylvania region to the Bucovina one, the town of Bistrita is one of the oldest around. Archeological findings indicate that the area has been inhabited since the Neolithic age, long before Bram Stocker chose it as the setting of his fictional Dracula’s castle.

Targu Mures - 1 day trip [details]. Named literally for a 'market' on the Mures River and known as the city of roses, Targu Mures (Marosvásárhely in Hun­garian ~ Neumarkt am Mieresch in German) enjoys the best of both Romanian and Hungarian cultures. Numerous vestiges attest the presence of Neolithic cultures and those of the Bronze and Metal Ages in this area. Archaeological diggings have brought to light Roman relics in the surrounding towns.

Alba Iulia - 1 day trip [details]. The gentle climate and the richness of the soil made the area around Alba Iulia inhabitable since ancient times and established Alba as a leading wine growing region since 1st century AD. Northwest of Alba Iulia are the Apuseni Mountains and in the east the Transylvanian Plateau with its rolling hills and deep, wide valleys.

Apuseni Mountains & Scarisoara Cave - 1-2 days trip [details]. Cluj makes a great base for exploring the stunning Apuseni mountain range, located southwest of the city. The Apuseni Nature Park protects one of the most interesting cave systems in the country. Limestone underlies most of the park and is responsible for the area's impressive landforms and more then 400 caves, many of which can be explored. Sculptured mountain ridges, mysterious underground rivers and delicate cave formations will keep your camera busy. Rent a car in Cluj and take the scenic drive to Campeni. Explore Scarisoara Cave, a national monument and home to the second largest underground glacier in Europe. The Apuseni Motzi villages are ideal places to find the tranquility and timeless wisdom of traditional village life, vibrantly alive and intact here as perhaps, nowhere else in Europe.