ALBA IULIA

Alba Iulia - General Information
Location: Central Romania (County: Alba)
Size: 3.7 sq. miles (9.7 sq. kilometers)
Elevation: 710 - 790 ft. (222 - 247 meters)
Population: 67,000
Inhabited since: 106-107 BC
First documented: 1097

City Highlights 

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.

Alba IuliaOne of the oldest settlements in Romania, known in ancient time as Apulum, Alba Iulia served as the largest military and economic center during the Roman occupation. Temples, mosaics, thermae and statues, amphitheaters, the governor's palace "Daciarum Trium" – all rendered the original Dacian Apulul as the miniature copy of the mother Rome.

An Episcopal citadel and an important political, military and cultural center, Alba Iulia reached its peak between 1542-1690, serving as the capital of the independent Principality of Transylvania and the residence of the Transylvanian princes. In 1599, Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave) achieved here for a brief period of time the union of the three main provinces of Romania: Walachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia. The town later became an important printing centre. Nowadays the local universities continue the tradition of the old academic schools.

The peasant revolt led by Horea, Closca and Crisan, executed on February 28, 1785 on the Pitchfork Hill (Dealul Furcii) turned the city into a symbol of the fight for justice and freedom.

It was here that on December 1st 1918 the province of Transylvania announced its unification with Romania. In 1922 Prince Ferdinand was crowned King of Romania in an act which mirrored the union achieved more than four centuries earlier by Mihai Viteazul.

Alba means white and comes from the time when the Slavics called the settlement Belgrade (“White Castle”). Iulia comes from the name of Romanian Prince Gelu (Iulius in Latin) who ruled over the land around Alba Iulia during the 10th century. The Habsburgs tried to impose the name Alba Carolina (Karlsburg) in honor of the emperor Charles VI. In 1918 the town became once again Alba Iulia.

In the old town visitors can stroll along the wide, tree-lined streets of the Habsburg citadel, one of the most impressive in Europe, to discover the historical, cultural and architectural places of interest of Alba Iulia: the Roman Catholic Cathedral – the oldest and most valuable monument of architecture in Transylvania., the Batthyaneum Library, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Reunification, the Babilon Building – housing the National Museum of Unification, the Union Hall, the Apor Palace, the Princely Palace, and the University of Alba Iulia.

For those interested in natural attractions and outdoor adventures, Alba Iulia is a good starting point for exploring the Apuseni and Retezat parks.

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Landmarks

The Citadel

(Cetatea Alba Iulia)
The Alba Iulia citadel, designed by Italian architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, was built between 1716 and 1735, using the Vauban military architectural system—the largest of this kind in Southeastern Europe. The fortress is outstanding both for its architectural elements and for the beauty of its six gates, unique in European military structures. Doubtless the artists, sculptors Johann Koning, Johan Vischer and Giuseppe Tencalla, had been inspired by ancient mythology.

Alba Iulia - GateAbout 7.2 miles of ramparts made of brick and quarry stones form a seven-point star shape with seven bastions (Eugene of Savoia, St. Stefan, The Trinity, St. Michael, St. Carol, St. Capistrano and St. Elisabeth) guarded
by six monumental gates. 

The gates, valuable samples of early baroque style, have served as a model for 18th century Transylvanian architecture.

Princely Palace

(Palatul Princiar)
The Princely Palace, built in the 16th century, was Prince Mihai Viteazul’s residence during the first political unification of Romanians in the 1600s. Following Ottoman and Tatar invasions the palace was destroyed. During the rule of princes Gábor Bethlen and George II Rakoczi the palace was restored but not to its previous condition. From 1700 on, the building was used as military barracks.

Opposite the palace is the Union Hall (Sala Unirii), where the unification act between Romania's other historical provinces and Transylvania was signed during the Great Assembly of December 1st 1918. 

Batthyaneum Library

(Biblioteca Batthyaneum)
In 1780, Ignac Batthyany, bishop of Transylvania, transformed a former Unitarian church into one of the most famous libraries in Transylvania. The Batthyaneum library is known all over the world for its rare manuscripts - over 60,000 documents, including the Codex Aureus (9th century), also known as the Lorsch Gospel, containing the Gospel of Mark and Matthew, David's Psalms, Codex Burgundus (15th century), Biblia Sacra (13th century) the Pentateuch from Orăştie (1850), Şerban Cantacuzino's Bible, and the New Testament from Balgrad (1648).
The first astronomical observatory in Transylvania was founded here in 1792.

Apor Palace

Apor Palace is located nearby the Bathyaneum Library. Built in the second half of the 17th century, it served as the residence of Prince Apor, and at the beginning of the 18th century as that of Austrian army leader, Prince Steinville. Apor Palace was renovated in 2007.

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Historic Churches

Orthodox Cathedral of the Reunification

Alba Iulia Address: Str. Mihai Viteazu 21
Open: Mon– Sun 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Located near the western entrance of the citadel, the impressive Orthodox Cathedral was built between 1921 and 1923 to celebrate Transylvania’s reunification with Romania. The first monarchs of unified Romania, King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie were crowned there on 15 October 1922.

 

Roman Catholic Cathedral

Address: Str. Mihai Viteazu 21
Telephone: (268) 811.689

The Catholic Cathedral, built in the 13th century on the site of a Romanesque church destroyed during the Tartar invasion of 1241, features one of the most impressive early Renaissance interiors in Transylvania. The light coming in from the Gothic windows helps create inside an ethereal atmosphere. The tomb of Prince Iancu de Hunedoara (c.1400 – 1456) is located in here, as well as that of Polish-born Isabella Jagiełło (1519 – 1559), former Queen of Hungary.

 

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Museums

National Unification Museum

Alba Iulia - Union Hall(Muzeul National al Unirii)
Address: Str. Mihai Viteazul 12-14
Telephone: (258) 813.300
Email: mnualba@yahoo.com
Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00 a.m. –
5:00 p.m.; Closed Mon.
Admission charge

The National Museum of Unification, located in the Babylon Building, was originally built for military purposes between 1851 and 1853 and transformed into a museum in 1887. The museum features a prehistory section, a Dacian-Roman and feudal sections, and sections for the great battles with the Turks, the Revolution of 1848, the Unification of the Principalities in 1859, World War I, the Union of Transylvania with Romania.

Its two floors and over 100 rooms host the permanent exhibition, the warehouse, the library and the restorations laboratories. The Unification Hall, also belonging to the National Museum, was opened in 1895 as Military Casino of the Garrison in Alba Iulia, but its distinctive historical significance is given by the fact that it hosted, on 1 December 1918, the rally of the 1228 Romanian delegates from Transylvania, who decided the province's union with Romania.

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Nearby Attractions

Medieval town of Sebes

Location: 9 miles southeast of Alba Iulia
Access: car, bus, train
www.romaniatourism.com/sebes.html

 

The fortified church in Calnic

Location: 15 miles southeast of Alba Iulia
Access: car,
www.romaniatourism.com/castles-fortresses.html#calnic

 

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Day Trips

Corvinilor Castle in Hunedoara

Location: 53 miles southwest of Alba Iulia
Access: car, train
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Castles-Fortresses.html#Corvinesti

Turda

* Salt was first mined at the Turda salt mines in 1271. For most of the 20th century, the former mines were used as deposits for cheese.
Today, they are open to visitors.
* One mile east of Turda, you can relax at Baile Turda, a natural outdoor spa built on the site of an old Roman salt mine.

Where: 41 miles N of Alba Iulia
Access: car, bus

An important salt-mining town, Turda was the seat of the Transylvanian Diet during the 16th century and hence, one of the wealthiest towns in the region. Walk along streets lined with grand stone houses and some well-preserved baroque facades. A Calvinist church dating from the 1400s and a late-15th century Roman Catholic Church are worth visiting; both featuring a gothic architectural style.

Jidvei Winery

Location: 47 miles northeast of Alba Iulia
Address: Str. Unirii 9, Jidvei, Alba County
Access: car
Telephone: (258) 881.881
Web: www.jidvei.ro

Located in the Târnava valley ( Transylvania ), is known for its superb dry white wines. Wine tasting is offered at the 16th century Bethlen Castle in Cetatea de Baltă, located between Târnăveni and Blaj.

Medieval town of Medias

Location: 49 miles northeast of Alba Iulia
Access: car, train
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Medias.html

 

Medieval town of Sighisoara

Location: 71 miles northeast of Alba Iulia
Access: car, train
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Sighisoara.html.

 

Apuseni Nature Park

Location: 61 miles northwest of Alba Iulia
Access: car, train (Huedin station)
www.RomaniaTourism.com/The-Carpatian-Mountains.html#ApuseniNaturePark

 

Medieval town of Sibiu

Location: 45 miles southeast of Alba Iulia
Access: car, bus, train
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Sibiu.html

 

Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains

Location: 37 miles southwest of Alba Iulia
Access: car
www.RomaniaTourism.com/World-Heritage-Sites.html#Orastie

 

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CITY ESSENTIALS

  • Accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Tourist Info
  • Maps

Accommodation

For a list of available accommodations in Alba Iulia please click here
or check our Accommodations Guide.

 

Transportation

By air

Alba Iulia does not have a local airport. The closest airports are located in:

Sibiu (SBZ) - www.sibiuairport.ro / 44 miles away
Cluj Napoca (CLJ) - www.airportcluj.ro/ 56 miles away
Targu Mures (TGM) - www.targumuresairport.ro /82 miles away

By bus

Alba Iulia Bus Station(Autogara)
Address: Str. Iasilor 94
Telephone: +40 (258) 812.967
Web: www.autogari.ro/AlbaIulia

Daily domestic bus service from/to:
Apoldu de Sus, Baia Mare,Beclean,Bistrita,Bucharest,Calimanesti,Carei,
Cluj Napoca, Deva, Hateg, Miercurea Sibiului, Orastie, Prundu Burgaului,
Ramnicu Valcea,Satu Mare, Sebes, Sibiu, Targu Jiu,Teius, Timisoara, Turda

By car

The recommended route from Bucharest to Alba Iulia is:
Bucharest – Pitesti – Ramnicu Valcea – Sibiu – Alba Iulia (E81)

The recommended route from Budapest to Alba Iulia is:
Budapest – Debrecen – Bors – Oradea –  Alba Iulia (E60)

Distance from Alba Iulia to:
City Distance (Miles)
Bucharest 215
Arad 149
Baia Mare 146
Belgrade (Serbia) 231
Brasov 135
Budapest (Hungary) 319
Constanta 350
Iasi 282
Oradea 126
Prague (Czech Republic) 648
Satu Mare 150
Sibiu 45
Sighetu Marmatiei 175
Sighisoara 71
Suceava 241
Timisoara 146
Tulcea 338
Vienna (Austria) 471

By train

Alba Iulia - main train station (Gara Alba Iulia)
Address: Blvd. Ferdinand
Telephone: +40 (258) 812.967

The railways station is located about a mile southeast of the Citadel. There are daily trains from/to Budapest (journey time – 7 ½ hours). Trains from/to other western European cities run via Budapest.  

For a list of international trains with service to/from Romania please visit:
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Transportation.html#ByTrain

There are daily trains connecting Alba Iulia with:
Bucharest (journey time: 7 ½ hours)
Arad (journey time: 3 hours)
Brasov (journey time: 5 hours)
Cluj Napoca (journey time: 2 hours)
Gura Humorului (journey time: 7 ½ hours)
Hunedoara (journey time: 2 hours)
Medias (journey time: 1 hour)
Iasi (journey time: 11 hours)
Sibiu (journey time: 3 ½ hours)
Sighisoara (journey time: 1 2/3 hours)
Suceava (journey time: 8 hours)
Timisoara (journey time: 4 ½ hours).

To check the latest train schedules for domestic routes please visit the website of the Romanian Railways: www.cfrcalatori.ro
The site has complete information about domestic train schedules and fares.
Note: For departures from/to Bucharest please select Bucuresti Nord.

SNCFR's advance booking office (Agentia de Voiaj SNCFR Cluj-Napoca)
Address: Calea Motilor 1
Telephone: (258) 816.678
Open:  Mon. - Fri. 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Closed Sat. & Sun.

You can get train schedule information and make reservations up to 24 hours in advance at this office. Tickets for same-day travel can only be purchased at the station.

Public Transportation

Several bus (autobus) routes connect Alba Iulia's main areas and tourist attractions. For the bus routes map in Alba Iulia please visit: http://www.apulum.ro/harta%20transport.html

Taxi companies

Taxi Exclusiv - 941
Taxi City - 948
Taxi Confort - 944
Taxi Nova - 943
Taxi Unic – (258) 810.796

Tourist Info

Alba Iulia Tourist Information Centre (Centrul de Informare Turistica)
Address: Str. Mihai Viteazul, nr.15, Poarta IV A
Telephone: (0745) 081.021
Email: carolinatour@ymail.com
Web: www.apulum.ro, www.turismalba.ro , www.stiri.turismalba.ro
The Tourist Information Centre provides maps, brochures and information on accommodations, restaurants and transportation.

Weather

Alba Iulia Weather Forecast:
www.foreca.com/Romania/Alba_Iulia

Postal services & Telephone

Post offices display a postal horn symbol and the word Posta.

Main Post Office
Address: Str. Manciulea Stefan 2
Telephone: (258) 810.256
Open: Mon. – Fri. 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Closed Sat. & Sun.

Telephoning Alba Iulia from Abroad
International Access Code + 40 (country code) + 258 or 358 (area code) + telephone number (six digit number)

Pharmacies & Hospitals

There are several pharmacies (farmacie) open 24 hours a day in the city.

Emergency Hospital (Spitalul Judetean de Urgenta Alba Iulia)
Address: Bd. Revolutiei 1989, Nr. 23
Telephone: (258) 820.825 or 821.560

Alba Iulia — Useful Telephone Numbers
Alba Iulia Area Code (Prefix) 264 or 364
Local & County Archives (Arhivele judetene)
Address: Str. Mihai Viteazul 29
(258) 810.996
City Hall (Primaria)
Address: Calea Motilor 5A
(258) 819.462

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