The region of Transylvania is located in the heart of Romania and is bounded by the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. This is the largest region of Romania and is full of delightful sceneries. It is deliberated the cradle of nation, because of its impressive fortresses and castles build by their ancestors – the Dacians. Transylvania is gifted with a large number of tourist attractions and various activities to do. It is a combination between rural and medieval, because every small village still uses the ancestral procedures for land cultivation, collecting hay for animals.

The name of Transylvania comes from the Latin expression “Trans Silva” which means “Country beyond the forests” for its forests that covers the mountains.  First people that stepped here were the Celts, and after them came that Dacian society who built the fortresses and capitals, still kept until now in Orastie Mountains.

Sarmizegetusa Regia was the most important capital of Dacian Empire. Wars between Dacian and Roman Empire made Traian emperor the winner of this area for a long period of time. After Roman Empire, Hungarians made Transylvania part of their territory. Also, during time, the Ottoman Empire tried to win this region, but they never succeeded. Starting with the 14th century this region was transformed in Transylvania Principality, being recognized as an independent state. On December 1, 1918, Transylvania is united with other principalities and together become the Romania country. Wonderful region of Transylvania has great cities that deserve to be discovered year around.

Alba Iulia is a lovely city that is located in Transylvania region. Alba Carolina Citadel is the most fascinating place for tourist to visit, especially after 12 PM when Austrian guards from III Gate are changing and during weekends when are wince bursts of smoke. Tourists can go on the Three Fortifications Route from which can discover: Mint gate Principality of Transylvania, Artillery platform, South Gate Camp Roman military camp. In the fortress travellers can see the Union Hall, the place where was signed the Act of Union of Transylvania with Romania, in 1918 and Union Museum. Also here is the cell of Horea where he needed to stay before he was executed; about him tourists can find more information from Romanian Heroes Route.

Cluj-Napoca is the biggest city located in the heart of Transylvania. Here visitors can discover the Orthodox cathedral decorate with fancy reliefs carves in stone, geometrical and floral motifs. The edifice attractions are the old books, manuscripts, documents about church history, and the past of the Romanian people. Saint Michael Church in an edifice built on the old Saint Jacob chapel. It’s imposing by its Gothic style and mural pictures from the 15th century. Visitors can see on this church a statue of a child without had.

Sibiu is a great city from Transylvania that deserves to be discovered. It’s easy because here travelers don’t need cars because the most important edifices are in the city’s historical center. People can visit the Union Square and the Three Towers: Potters Tower, Gunsmiths Tower and Carpenters Tower; all of them are part of the third fortified enclosures of the city. The Big Square for the old historical center is full of souvenirs, because this is the place where events like Easter and Christmas festivities take place.

Region of Transylvania has cities, fortresses, citadels, nature landscapes and many other things which can satisfy all travelers’ needs.

To this present moment, UNESCO has included 7 sites of Romania to its World Heritage List.

The seven sites  included in UNESCO world heritage sites list are dispersed in 13 counties of the 40 that Romania has on the UNESCO world heritage sites map.

The first from Romania UNESCO sites is the one of the Churches of Moldavia, they are 8 in number, all in the county of Suceava, dating from the 15th and 16th century. They are considered Byzantine art inspired masterpieces, each one unique in its own way: Arbore, Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota, Suceava, Voronet and Sucevita.

Another site is the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains, located in the counties of Hunedoara and Alba, which date from the first centuries before and after Christ. The uncommon mélange of military and religious architecture includes: Sarmizegetusa Regia as capital of Dacia, Dacian Fortress Costesti-Cetatuie, Costesti-Blidaru Dacian Fortress, Piatra Rosie Dacian Fortress and the Dacian Fortresses of Banita and Capalna.

The Historic Centre of Sighisoara also hit the list of World Heritage Sites. It is a fortified medieval town located in the county of Mures from the 13th century.

The Danube Delta is the only natural site. It is a biosphere reservation located in Tulcea, the South of Romania.

The medieval fortified churches of Transylvania were built between the 13th and 16th centuries in Alba, Brasov, Harghita, Mures and Sibiu counties. Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania make up the cultural scenery of southern Transylvania: Biertan, Calnic, Darjiu, Prejmer, Saschitz, Valea Viilor and Viscri.

The wooden churches of Maramures from the 17th and 18th centuries: the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Tample in Barsana, the Church of Saint Nicholas in Budesti, Saint Parascheva Church in Desesti, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Ieud Deal, the Church of the Holy Archangels in Plopis, the other Saint Parascheva Church in Poienile Izei and other two Churches of the Holy Archangels in Rogoz and Surdesti.

A work of art of the Brancovenesc flair has also entered the list, the Monastery of Horezu ( Horezu manastire ) in the Valcea county from 1690.

Also considered for nomination, but still on the “tentative list” to accomplish UNESCO world heritage criteria are: the Byzantine Churches of Curtea de Arges, Slatioara Secular Forest, Trei Ierarhi Monastery of Iasi, the Monumental Ensemble of Targu Jiu, Rupestral Ensemble at Basarabi, Densus Church, Neamt Monastery, the Historic Town of Alba Iulia, Cule from Oltenita, the Retezat and Pietrosul Rodnei Massifs, the Sanpetru Formation, the Historic Center of Sibiu.

 

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.

Alba Iulia is a city located in Alba County, Transylvania, with the Mures River flowing through it. There was always something special about this city, no matter the period of time. From the capital of Roman Dacia, to the place where the Great Unification of Romania unfolded, Alba Iulia has always been historically loaded and of strong significance for Romanians and other nations. Along these lines, the city has undergone plenty series of name changes.

During ancient times, when Romans settled in Dacia, Alba Iulia became the capital of Dacia Apulensis under the name of Apulum. It was the largest city in Roman Dacia and it holds to this day the largest castrum in Romania, of over 37 hectares.

Further on in the Medieval Ages, a Hungarian lord named Gyula chose the same settlement as capital of his dukedom, thus given the name of Gyula Feyervar. Here he built the first church of Transylvania, establishing a Catholic Transylvanian bishopry.

Along with the division of the Hungarian Kingdom, Alba Iulia became once more a capital, for the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom and afterwards for the Principality of Transylvania until 1690. This is when the name of Weissenburg (White City) was first mentioned; meanwhile the Ottomans adopted the analogous “Erdel Belgradi”.

After the year of 1690, Alba Iulia joined the Habsburg Monarchy. The Alba Carolina fortress is erected under the authority of Emperor Charles VI of Habsburg. The city, yet again, changes its name, this time in honor of Charles VI, into Karlsburg.

The modern name Alba Iulia is a return to the town’s Medieval Latin name and it started to circulate in the 18th century, becoming the official name in after the union.

With the end of the First World War, officials of Transylvania came together in Alba Iulia on the 1st of December 1918 to declare the union between Transylvania and the Kingdom of Romania. This date represents now the National/Great Union Day of Romania and Alba Iulia is the host of its most glorious yearly celebration.

Alba Iulia is filled with landmarks and historical attractions but it is probably most known for its unique ensemble of fortresses. The ensemble might as well be called a “time travelling rollercoaster”, because the three fortresses were built in three different ages, successively erected on the same location, each new citadel including the former one. The Roman Castrum is the oldest one, after which came the Medieval Citadel built between the XVI and XVII centuries. The newest one is the Alba Carolina Fortress, built in the XVIII century.

A deep fosse and a high wall embrace the confines of the Fortress Ensemble. The second construction adds four bastions in each indoor corner. The construction of Alba Carolina brought immense volume of works, including a terrace, a sewerage system, a mill, several wells, workrooms and warehouses. The sum of these three courses of formation equipped the Ensemble with six imposing gateways.

The citadel has numerous other patrimonial edifices, such as the Batthyaneum Library, the Princely Palace, the Union Hall, the National Honor Gallery, the National History Museum of Unification and the University of Alba Iulia.

The patrimony also extends in the city with monument buildings like the Palace of Justice or the “Giselle” Palace and Lossenau and Custozza Monuments. There are dozens other old houses on George Cosbuc Street, Ferdinand Boulevard, Teilor and Trandafirilor Streets.

When it comes to religious monuments, Alba Iulia doesn’t lack diversity. It has 6 churches, a synagogue and two famed cathedrals, the Orthodox Unification Cathedral and the “Sf. Mihail” Roman Catholic Cathedral.

To keep the culture alive, Alba Iulia organizes the Folklore Festival, the Woodworking Festival and of course, Dacian & Roman Festivals. Most important of all is of course the National Day, which is celebrated all throughout the country. But Alba Iulia being the place where the Union carried out, it goes without saying that this should be the host of the most spectacular military parade, re-enactments of the unification and other Romanian traditions.

Alba Iulia is already preparing for 2018, the centenary year of the Great Union, through a pilot project called “Alba Iulia Smart City 2018”. Imagine the magnitude of that event!

Visiting this city comes with several other opportunities of doing day trips in its proximity, because Transylvania’s beauty is never crowded in just one place, but rather scattered all around.