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Treasure city of Transilvania, Cluj-napoca, Romania

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danpop's pictureby danpop review
added on 20th of April, 2009

The third largest city in Romania, Cluj-Napoca is situated in the region of Transylvania. The city claims the unofficial title of the historical province of Transylvania. The city exists from the Dacian period, second century A.D. After the Roman conquered Dacia, the city was renamed Napoca, before in 124 A.D. received the rank of “municipium” (meaning the capital of a province). During Marcus Aurelius reign, Napoca grew spectacular, both economically and socially, receiving the title of “colonia”, the highest possible urban status in the Roman Empire. The name “Cluj” was first used in the 12-th Century, and it comes from “Clus” which means “Closed” in Latin and refers to the hills that surround the city. But not until the 1970s the town became “Cluj Napoca”, when the communist regime added the name of the old Roman settlement to show it’s Daco-Roman origin.

The city lies at the confluence of the Apuseni Mountains, the Somes Plateau and the Transylvania plain. It is crossed by Somesul Mic River and also by a bunch of other small streams. The town is proud to have a very famous Botanica Garden, but also a number of other parks, the largest one being The Central Park. The city is also surrounded by forests and grasslands, as well as two botanical reservations. Ski resorts are close to the town, both for beginners and advanced skiers. The numerous castles constructed by wealthy medieval families living in the city are splendid tourist attractions. Cluj-Napoca has a continental climate, with cold winters and dry summers. Average temperature in the summer is somewhere around 18 degrees C, with the winter temperature averaging around 0 degrees and even lower. This is because of the influence of the close by mountains.

City Landmarks

Union Square (Piata Unirii) has a lot of baroque, gothic, Renaissance and neoclassical buildings. The tallest church tower in Romania, Saint Michael’s Church lies in the Union Square, being a gothic style building from the 14th century. In front of the church is a statue of Matthias Corvinus, a 15 century ruler. In the southwest corner of the square stands Hotel Continental, build in 1895. Another attraction in the square is the Hintz House, the Cluj’s first and longest running pharmacy, now transformed in the Pharmacy Museum. The same square holds another architectural achievement, Banffy Palace. This was designed by a German architect and build between 1774 and 1775. The construction is recognized as the most representative example of baroque style in Transylvania. In 1951, the palace became the home of the Cluj National Art Museum.

Another landmark is the Palace of Justice, built between 1898 and 1902. This building is part of an ensemble build in Avram Iancu Square that also includes the National Theatre, the Palace of Prefecture, the Palace of Finance and the Palace of Orthodox Metropolis. An important eclectic ensemble is erected in Iuliu Maniu Street, featuring symmetrical buildings on either side, after the Haussmann urban trend. Calvinist Reformed Church, one of the largest in southeastern Europe, is a perfect illustration of the late gothic architectural style. The church is famous also for the organ concerts that are held frequently there. The statue of Saint George that stands in front of the church was created in 1373 and was inspired by the famous sculpture that lies in centre of Prague. Saint Peter and Paul Church, another landmark in Cluj-Napoca, is most known for the Statue of Saint Mary, an extremely valuable and beautiful work of art from the 18th century. The Fortress Hill is an excellent place to view the whole city and the surroundings. The view is extraordinary.

Some historical churches include The Franciscan Monastery and Church, build in the 15th century, the Cathedral of Transfiguration and the Saint Mary Calvaria Church, one of the oldest sites in town.

Museums are another attraction in this Romanian town. Cluj National Museum of Art, Emil Racovita Speleology Institute & Museum, Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania, History Museum of Transylvania and Pharmacy Museum are another reasons to visit this magnificent city.

The Botanical Garden is one of the largest in southeastern Europe and has about 10,000 plant species. The garden is 14 hectares in area and besides the Romanian part, some other attractions are the Japanese Garden, the Roman Garden and the greenhouses with desert and tropical plants. Another important park is Romulus Vuia Ethnographic Park, 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.

How to Get in Cluj-Napoca By train

There are connections with most the Romanian cities, Bucharest, Oradea, Timisoara, Brasov, and so on. The city is also railway connected with Budapest.

By plane

Cluj-Napoca has a quite big airport, with connection to a lot of important European towns: Bucharest, Timisoara, Budapest, Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Milano, Bologna, Ancona, Bergamo, Florence, Rome, Treviso, Verona, Lviv, Paris, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and London. Another option is the Budapest Ferihegy Airport, followed by a six-eight hours travel by the shuttles from many companies. The price varies between 60-80 Lei (about 20 Euros). There is also the possibility of car rentals.

By car

Cluj Napoca has a good road connection with towns in Romania, but also with the rest of Europe, by having a comfortable connection with Budapest.

By bus

Same as car accessibility, you can get to Cluj Napoca with buses from most of the Romanian cities and a lot of European cities.

Things about Cluj-napoca you may be interested in


Read about Cluj-napoca in our travel-guide
About the Botanical Garden of Cluj NapocaCluj hotel experiences

Recommended Cluj-napoca Guide

Cluj-napoca Travel guide

There aren’t many backpacker hostels in the city, but hotel rates are relatively low compared to western standards. Meteor Hotel on Eroilor Boulevard is a reasonably comfortable mid-range hotel with the advantage of being located right in the city centre. The restaurant downstairs serves hearty food in large portions, and it is quite popular with the student crowd. For an amazing view of the city, go to Belvedere Hotel, on top of the Fortress Hill. The hotel has luxury facilities and it is located at a five minutes’ walk from the city centre. If you’re looking for a unique five star hotel, this Cluj Napoca Travel Guide... Read more »


Recent reviews for Cluj-napoca

All about Cluj Napoca - Apr 3, 2009, by cipristb
Location and Climate The city of Cluj Napoca is placed in the center of Transilvania at the intersection of the Apuseni Mointains, the Somesan plateau and Transilvania's plain.There are many small rivers that traverse the city situated in... Read more »

Cluj hotel experiences - Jun 13, 2009, by MadSuh
Flying out to Cluj was not exactly an easy task. The connection was easy but I was traveling with my mom and my 96 year-old grandpa. This of course makes a trip like this quite a project. Where are the elevators and where are the toilets,... Read more »

About the Botanical Garden of Cluj Napoca - Apr 6, 2009, by cipristb
The Botanical Garden “Alexandru Borza” aparteining at Babes-Balyai University from Cluj Napoca was founded in 1920 by the teacher Alexandru Borza. Having a surface of 14 hectares it host 10 000 species of plants from all over... Read more »

Visiting Cluj for a couple of days - Jun 13, 2009, by MadSuh
Cluj Turned out to be quite different from what I had remembered. The city is much larger than Oradea and there is much more going on. You can go out every night of the week and you'll see lots of students. During the day while visiting the... Read more »


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