The feeling, when you enter Alba Iulia, even if you know nothing about history, is that your overwhelmed. The energy is great, takes you to another era, far away from our daily stress and the fortress and green areas totally capture you and take you deeper into their story.
Also known as “The other capital”, because between 1541 and 1711 was the political center of Transylvania Principality and on the 1st December, 1918, hosted the Great Romanian Union between Transylvania, Banat and the Romanian Kingdom, the actual fortress lies on the place of an ancient fortified city (a Dacian one ), named Apoulon – Apulum after the conquest of Dacia, by Traian. The urban life goes to sleep, between 271 and 1199 when the city’s name reappears, this time under the name Alba Iulia, after Iula, the local leader, at that time.
It appears that the actual construction was built in the 18th century, under King Carol the 6th on the hill of Alba Iulia citadel, the purpose being of protection of the Habsburgic Empire against the Otoman Empire.
In 2012 the fortress benefited of massive investments and took her image at what it is today. This restoration makes us enjoy a time travel and enjoy the walls, the alleys, the gates and rooms as they once were projected. The only difference is that now nobody is attacking you, if you are lazy you can take a tour in mini-busses or bikes especially there for you, you can eat at the restaurant exactly in the fortress or you can enjoy a change of guards if there at the right time.
In order for you to follow every step of the evolution and history of the largest citadel in Romania, I suggest starting with the 3rd gate, with the statue of King Carol the VI-th – do your best to arrive their before 12 o’clock, in order to catch the change of guards, a very true moment from the life of a citadel; follow the walls, pass the “roman castrum”, see the military camp and the belvedere point, make sure you visit the Coronation Church, Horia and Closca cells and stop and visit the National Union Museum, the Union Hall and do not miss the statue of Mihai Viteazu.
Of course, in the summer, during the medieval fortresses festival, you can enjoy more of the guilds activities and you can “breath the air” of a medieval citadel.
If somewhere, along the road, you’ll feel hungry or thirst, try the restaurant located under the walls of the fortress – the food is delicious and the prices are just a bit upper then outside of the fortress but not up enough to deserve going out and coming back again
Interesting facts: according to the official website, Alba Iulia invested 150 millions from European founds, this bringing Alba Iulia again to the life it ones were. The focus is now on bringing tourists to appreciate everything they found here – and trust me, it totally worth it