The Alba Carolina Fortress, located on the Citadel Hill in Alba Iulia, the city of the Great Unification, is the most representative Baroque, star shaped fortress in Romania and also one of the vastest in the East of Europe.
It was built in the 18th century, between 1714 and 1738. It amazingly encloses two preexisting fortresses. The first one to be erected was the Roman Castrum of the 13th Legion Gemina, in 106AD. Second came the Medieval Citadel of Belgrade, built between the 16th and 17th century.
The architect who designed the Vauban-type edifice (Alba Carolina, Alba Iulia) was Giovanni Morando Visconti, having 20.000 servants execute his concept. At the same time the constructions started, the work was dedicated to the Emperor Charles VI. After it was finished, it served as the military base of Transylvania and also as a weaponry warehouse, both meant to ban Turkish invaders from getting to Central Europe. By nature, the Alba Carolina Fortress became obsolete in the 20th century.
The wall that embraces the fortification is 12 kilometers long. The seven bastions, each named after a Saint, form Alba Carolina into a shape of a star. Such an impressive aerial view!
The construction of the fortress implied an immense volume of works, adding a sewerage system, a mill, wells, warehouses and all other essentials for 10.000 soldiers.
The fortress has six imposing gates, unique in European military architecture. The gateways are extravagantly embellished with statues and magnificent ornaments, by virtue of which they are considered samples of extreme value.
The First Gate, situated in the East of the Fortress Ensemble, is shaped as a triumphal arch. The facades are adorned with ancient mythology figures, such as Hercules, Aeneas and Perseus.
The Second Gate is made out of two square poles with flowery and leafy decorations.
The Third Gate represents the main entrance in the fortification and is the most important statuesque work of Alba Carolina. The edifice has an abundant decor, illustrating battle scenes, weapons, trophies, coats of arms and other military affairs. On its Eastern part there is an equestrian statue of Charles VI. The interior facade features statues symbolizing abundance, wisdom, moderation and power.
The Fourth Gate is situated on the western side and is decorated only on the inside. The inspiration for this gateway was also of mythological and military sense, displaying weapons, flags and a personification of wrath.
The Fifth Gate is not an ornamental one, but rather a tunnel, not far from the Fourth Gate, to which it’s connected through a wooden bridge.
The Sixth and final Gate, is made out of two adorned stone pillars. It connects to the Fifth Gate through a spectacular narrow passage.
The complexity of each of these gates can be observed during en detail tour of the Fortress’ Gates, from East to West.
Once these gates entered, the tourist will discover that there’s even more to Alba Carolina.
Some of the most meaningful interior buildings are the Batthyaneum Library, Apor Palace, Babylon Building, now National History Museum of Unification, Union Hall, and the Princely Palace.
The Alba Carolina fortress (cetatea Alba Carolina) encloses a myriad of edifices, which give the atmosphere of an actual city, perfectly preserved for centuries on end.