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Cluj-napoca History, Romania

Cluj-Napoca History – Cluj-Napoca under Roman Rule

Located in the North-Western part of Romania, Cluj-Napoca is the economic, cultural and academic centre of the historic region of Transylvania. Cluj-Napoca history was traced back to Antiquity, when the famous geographer Ptolemy wrote about a Dacian settlement called “Napuca”. As a consequence of the Roman conquest and colonization, Napoca first became a town (124), then the capital of the Roman province Dacia Porolissensis (under the name Colonia Aurelia Napoca). There is no documentation on how Cluj developed after Emperor Aurelian ordered the retreat of the Roman troops in 271, but archeologists have found numerous artifacts that prove that people continued to live in the area, resisting the nomad invasions.

Cluj-Napoca History – Medieval Cluj

In 1167, Cluj was attested as a Hungarian citadel, named ‘Castrum Clus’ (the Latin word ‘clus’ designates a closed space, and was probably chosen due to the city’s location on the deep Somes Valley, surrounded by the hills of the Transylvanian Plateau). In the following century, King Stephen V of Hungary granted Castrum Clus all the privileges of a town and brought in Saxon settlers. Cluj continued to develop as an important medieval commercial hub: local crafts and food products were exported in other regions of Romania, as well as towards the Occident. The reign of King Sigismund of Luxembourg in Hungary marks a decisive period in Cluj-Napoca history: a royal charter declares Cluj a ‘free city’ and the construction of the ‘Sfantul Mihail’ cathedral was initiated.

However, the town lost its privileges during the peasant uprising of Gheorghe Doja in 1438. In the 16th century, Hungary was conquered by the Ottomans and Cluj became a part of the autonomous Principality of Transylvania, only to be integrated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1699. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Cluj became the religious, cultural and administrative capital of Transylvania. Cluj played a major role in the 1948 Revolution, when Hungarian and Romanian revolutionaries tried to join their forces against the Austrian regime.

Cluj-Napoca History – Cluj-Napoca across the 20th Century

After World War I, Cluj-Napoca, together with the entire Principality of Transylvania, became a part of Romania: the Romanian government continued the work of the Austrian monarchy, building numerous churches, schools and cultural institutions. After the communist period, when Cluj was given its actual name ‘Cluj-Napoca’ and grew massively as a result of the forced urbanization (which also influenced the ethnic structure of the city, as Romanians became the majority) Cluj-Napoca entered a new period of development and modernization.

Now, at the beginning of a new millennium, Cluj-Napoca is a prestigious academic centre, a leader in the IT sector and the inheritor of a rich multicultural tradition (it is also the third most populous city in Romania after Bucharest and Iasi).

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Read our members' reviews about Cluj-napoca

  • MadSuhCluj hotel experiences
    review by MadSuh posted more then 30 days ago
    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, are the most frequent questions :) We drove by car to...
  • MadSuhVisiting Cluj for a couple of days
    review by MadSuh posted more then 30 days ago
    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 old town, one can only imagine the lost beauty of this...
  • danpopTreasure city of Transilvania
    review by danpop posted more then 30 days ago
    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,...
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Read our members' travel tips about Cluj-napoca

  • angelThe St. Michael church and the Mathias statue
    travel tip by angel posted more then 30 days ago
    In the center of the town there is a beautiful church, the 'Szent Mihaly Templom' and in front of it lies the prize-winner statue of one of the Hungarians biggest kings: King Mathias (in hungarian 'Matyas Kiraly'). Don't leave these out.
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