Romanian History and Culture

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Transylvania Voevodate (Principate) and the Kingdom of Hungary



In 997, the new Grand Prince of the Magyars, Stephen defeated the army of his kinsman, Koppány who had revolted against him.[25] Koppány died in the battle; his corps was quartered and its parts were pinned to the gates of four castles, among them to the gates of Bǎlgrad which was the seat of Stephen’s maternal uncle, the Gyula Prokuj.[25] At Christmas of the year 1000 (or on New Year’s Day in 1001), Stephen was crowned; and thus he became the first king of Hungary.[25]

Stephen, in order to become king of entire Hungary, had to defeat the chiefs of the tribal states one after another.[23] He started it with his greatest rival, his uncle, Prokuj and occupied his territory in 1003.[23] The 14th-century Hungarian chronicles suggest that after 1003, he occupied the parts of the Transylvanian territories administered by the Bulgar and Vlach governors.[23] Ahtum, who had been ruling over the Banat, and also found himself in conflict with King Stephen I when he taxed transports of salt from Transylvania to the heartland of Pannonia.[17] One of his retainers named Csanád fled to the Hungarian king, only to return at the head of a large army, with which he eventually defeated and killed Ahtum in Stephen’s name.[17]

Saint Michael on a 13th-century Byzantine icon

King Stephen is reported to have founded ten Roman Catholic dioceses with two archbishops at their head in the entire Kingdom of Hungary.[26] On the territory of present-day Romania, the bishops of Bihor, Cenad and Transylvania were the suffragans of the archbishop of Kalocsa.[26] Although no data of medieval charters alludes to the establishment of the Bishopric of Transylvania, it must have happened shortly after 1003 (its first bishop is included among the prelates in a charter of 1075).[23] The diocese was dedicated to Saint Michael whose cult was especially strong in the territory of the Byzantine church which suggests that a bishopric of Latin rite succeeded the missionary bishopric of Byzantine rite that had been set up when the Gyula was baptized in Constantinople around 950.[23] In Ahtum's former "kingdom" a Venetian monk named Gerald began a mission of Chrisitianization of the entire region.[17] He became Bishop of Cenad in 1030.[17] From about 1100, the diocese of Bihor was named after its new seat, Oradea.[26]

Where King Stephen I enjoyed an effective authority, counties and castle districts appeared together with bishoprics; the county was an independent administrative institution based entirely on territory - as opposed to this, the castle districts included only the king’s properties.[23] In Transylvania, already five (maybe six) castle districts or counties had been established before the mid-11th century: Dăbâca, Cluj, Turda, Hunedoara, Bǎlgrad, and perhaps Cetatea de Baltă.[23] To denote the head of the royal governor of a county, the word ispán (equivalent of the Slav župan) was used.[26]

The Kingdom of Hungary had to defend itself against foreign incursions: in 1068 and 1085, the Pechenegs and the Oghuz invaded the country, and in 1091, its eastern part faced a Cuman attack.[23] The Kingdom of Hungary had established its frontiers firmly on the Carpathian Mountains only by 1200.[17]

The settlement process of Transylvania proceeded in the 11th-12th centuries.[23] The archaeological evidence supports the idea of a settlement area expanding from the northwest and west to south and east, respectively, during the 12th century.[17]

  • Toponyms suggest that Hungarian settlement was directed primarily toward Northern Transylvania throughout the 11th century, and the regions along and south of the river Mureş also acquired considerable Hungarian population after the early 12th century.[23]
  • Written sources, dating from before the mid-12th century, announce that “guest” settlers from Western Europe also moved into Transylvania.[23] The earliest settlers may have been Flemings or Walloons.[17] During the reign of King Géza II, groups of settlers, larger than the ones before, arrived in Transylvania: the legate of the Holy See mentioned between 1191 and 1196 that King Géza II had granted desolate lands to the Flemish arrivals.[23] “Saxons” as a generic name for the “guests” was not established before 1206.[17] Transylvanian “Saxons” played an important role in the life of Hungary: according to the income register of King Béla III from around 1195, the taxes of the Transylvanian royal “guests” made up 9% of royal revenues.[23] In 1224, King Andrew II spelled out the privileges of the German “guests” in a charter later referred to as the Andreanum; thus all of the “Saxons” were placed under a single authority, that of the count of Sibiu (in German, Hermannstadt).[17]
  • Early documents suggest that the Székely must have been on frontier defense duty at the western and eastern borders of the Hungarian dwelling area.[23] The first Székely groups left for the east by the early 12th century.[23] The name of the seven original Székely groups and toponyms suggest that they had lived in Bihor and in Southern Transylvania before they settled in the Székely Land (in Hungarian, Székelyföld) in Eastern Transylvania.[23] By 1228, the title of Count of the Székely had been in use which indicates that King Andrew II appointed an official to lead them.[23] The Székely were a well organized community of warriors living off cattle breeding; they served as light horsemen in the royal army and throughout the centuries preserved elements of nomadic warfare.[26]
 Romanians are mention again in  many sources of the Kingdom of Hungary .[23] When the Cistercian abbey at Cârţa was established around 1207, the monastic estates were carved out of the “land of the Vlachs”.[17] This land, later called Făgăraş, was to remain until the end of the Middle Ages a separate Romanian district, not melting into the Saxon lands nor becoming a county of Transylvania.[26] Around 1210, Romanians also fought in Bulgaria in the army of the Count of Sibiu together with Saxons, Székely and Pechenegs.[23] In 1224, the Andreanum entitled the Transylvanian Saxons to use the forests and waters granted to the Romanians and the Pechenegs.[23]

The count of Bǎlgrad was considered the principal official in Transylvania; after 1199, he had the title voivode and by that time, he had managed to secure the rule for himself in several Northern Transylvanian counties.[23] The voivode was the chief officer of the king in Transylvania.[23] He was appointed by the king who could revoke the appointment and delegate the office to someone else in sign of his favor: during the 89 years between 1199 and 1288, the office of the voivode changed holders 43 times.[23] That the counts of Bǎlgrad of the 11th and 12th centuries appeared in a variety of ways in Latin (tribunus, princeps, comes) might be connected to the fact that the Latin equivalent of the voivode common name was sought after.[23] The title voivode may suggest that since the days of Duke Gelou, Transylvania, although part of the Kingdom of Hungary, had a different tradition, with predominantly Romanian population[1]; or the voivode name comes from the Slavs of Southern Transylvania.[23]

Before the middle of the 13th century, Transylvania was dominated by the king’s men known to contemporary sources as “castle warriors” (in medieval documents, iobagiones castri), a social group associated with the increasing number of royal castles.[17] However, even the relatively independent “castle warriors” were high-placed subjects within the manorial system.[25] In contrast with them, the “royal servants” (servientes regni) were independent landholders, small or great, and possessed subjects, few or many.[25]

In 1233, the Hungarian troops crossed the Danube into Wallachia, where they occupied the Severin region, creating a special banate there.[31] The banate of Severin, which incorporated the entire of Wallachia up to the river Olt, appears also to have enjoyed some authority over Cumania.[32] The banate included the territories of several Vlach chieftains (knezes); they and their followers were obliged to provide tribute in kind to support the banate, and also to assist as warriors in the defense of the territory.[32

Cârţa Monastery

Mănăstirea Cârţa

Cârţa Monastery is a former Cistercian monastery in the Ţara Făgăraşului region in southern Transylvania in Romania, currently a Lutheran Evangelical church belonging to the local Saxon community. It lies on the left bank of the Olt River, between the cities of Sibiu and Făgăraş, close to the villages of Cârţa (German Kerz, Hungarian: Kerc) and Cârţişoara (German: Kleinkerz). The monastery was founded in 1205-1206 by King Andrew II of Hungary, and was disbanded 27 February 1474 by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. The Cistercian monastery introduced and helped develop Gothic art in the region.

History of the Monastery

The exact founding date of the Cârţa monastery (Latin: monasterium beatae Mariae virginis in Candelis de Kerch) is unknown. A document from Konstanz, dated 17 April 1418, issued by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor states vaguely that the monastery was founded, built, and awarded rights and privileges by his predecessors. The statute of royal establishment is also pointed out in the act disbanding the monastery 27 February 1474, and was made ex auctoritate juris patronatus regii Matthias Corvinus. Cistercian documents from the 13th till 15th century gathered and analyzed by Leopold Janauschek mention the founding year of the monastery as being somewhere around 1202-1203.

The best approximation of the monastery's date of foundation can be obtained from a document issued by the royal Hungarian chancelry in 1223. This document states that the territory on which the monastery was built - delimited by the Olt River at the north side and its tributaries the Arpaşu River at the east, the Cârţişoara River at the west and the Făgăraş Mountains) at the south - was awarded by King Andrew II of Hungary, for the blessing of his soul, through the Transylvanian voivod Benedict (pro remedio animae nostre per fidelem ac dilectum nostrum Benedictum tunc temporis vaivodam assignari facientes). It is known that Benedict was Transylvanian voivod between 1202-1206 and 1208-1209. This means that the founding date must fall between 1202 and 1209. An additional document, the General Chapter of the Cistercian Order from 1206, further narrows the date of founding. This document mentions the presence of a Cistercian monk from Transylvania, most probably from Cârţa (abbas ultra Sylvas in Hungaria, filius abbatis de Egris), at the Citeaux Abbey, in Burgundy, the main abbey of the Cistercian order.

Summing up this historical data, the date of the monastery's founding by the King Andrew II of Hungary can be established as occurring between 29 May 1205 and 14 September 1206. 29 May 1205 is when Andrew II became king of Hungary and 14 September 1206 is the day when the works of the Cistercian Order's General Chapter began, when the existence of the first monk of Cârţa is documented. The colonising convent was most probably the mother abbey in Igriş (Latin Egris, Hungarian Egres), in the Banat plain, today located in Timiş County, Romania. Filiation reports between the two monasteries can be dated from 1206, 1368 and 1430.

History of the surviving structure

The first buildings of the monastery were built, according to Cistercian customs, using perishable materials, most probably wood. These can be dated relatively confidently as having been built in the founding period (1205-1206). A few years later, approximately 1210-1215, a stone chapel, the oratorium, was built close to the original wood buildings. The foundations of this chapel of small dimension (around 8-10 m) and massive walls, were rediscovered in the spring of 1927, by the Transylvanian Saxon art historian and archeologist Victor Roth. Also, subsequent researches were carried out in the period 1983-1985 to better study these remains.


The construction of the main stone edifice started a little bit later, most probably between 1220 and 1230. The construction occurred in two stages, separated by the Great Mongol invasion of 1241. In the first stage of construction, the main elements are of Romanesque influence. The general plan was traced and the walls were erected up to aa height of about 3-4 m. In 1260 the works were restarted under a new architect trained in the mature Gothic architecture, and with the help of a new masons' workshop. During this period, the old stone oratorium was dismantled and on its foundations was built a part of the north wing of the transept and a part of the choir with the polygonal apse. At around 1300, the church and the east wing of the Cărţa Monastery were already finished and the works on the south side will continue for about two decades.

 Possessions of the monastery

A document issued in 29 January 1322 by the king Charles I of Hungary states that ten villages were in the possession of the cistercian monastery of Cărţa: Cârţa (Kerch), Criţ (Cruz), Meşendorf (Messendorf), Cloaşterf (villa Nicholai), Apoş (villa Abbatis), Cisnădioara (monte sancti Micahelis), Feldioara (Feldwar), Colun (Colonia), Glâmboaca (Honrabah) and Cârţa Romanească (Kercz Olachorum) which correspond to the area between present day cities of Sibiu and Braşov and the Târnava Mare River valley. In the second half of the 13th century, in its vicinity, on the right bank of the Olt river, the village of Cârţa (German: Kerz) was founded and also on the Hârtibaciu River valley, close to Agnita, it founded the village of Apoş (German: Abtsdorf, or "the Monk's Village"). Both villages were populated with German colonists (Transylvanian Saxons) and later in the 13th and 14th centuries on the Sighişoara seat, it founded the villages of Criţ (German: Deutsch-Kreuz; Hungarian: Szászkeresztúr), Meşendorf (German: Meschendorf; Hungarian: Mese) and Cloaşterf (German: Klosterdorf; Hungarian: Miklóstelke), and also the villages Colun (German: Kolun; Hungarian: Kellen), Glâmboaca (German: Hühnerbach; Hungarian: Glimboka) and Feldioara (German: Marienburg; Hungarian Földvár) situated on the right bank of the Olt River between Sibiu and Braşov.


  1. Janauschek Ludwig, Originum Cisterciensium ("Origins of the Cistercians") volume I, Vindobonae 1877, p. 208-209.
  2. Rómer Floris, "Kirándulás a kertzi apátsághoz Erdélyben", in Archaeologiai Közlemények, Budapest, 1877, p. 4 et.seq.
  3. Reissenberger Ludwig, Die Kerzer Abtei ("The Abbey Kerz"), Hermannstadt (now Sibiu), 1894.
  4. Baumgartner Alán, A kerci apátság a középkorban, Budapest, 1915.
  5. Rosemann R. Heinz, "Kerz. Ehemalige Zisterzienser Abtei" ("Kerz. Former Cistercian Abbey"), in Die Deutsche Kunst in Siebenbürgen ("German Art in Transylvania"), Berlin, 1934, p. 82-85.
  6. Vătăşianu Virgil, Istoria artei feudale în Ţările Române ("History of feudal art in the Romanian Lands"), vol. I, Bucharest, 1959, p. 98-105 & passim.
  7. Entz Géza, "Le chantier cistercien de Kerc (Cîrţa)" ("The Cistercian Building Site at Cârţa") , in Acta Historiae Artium, volume IX, p. 1-2, Budapest, 1963, p. 3-38.
  8. Marosi Ernö, Die Anfänge der Gotik in Ungarn. Esztergom in der Kunst des 12.-13. Jahrhunderts ("The Beginnings of the Gothic in Hungary. Esztergom in the Art of the 12th-13th Centuries"), Budapest, 1984, p. 126 & passim.
  9. Busuioc - von Hasselbach Dan Nicolae, Ţara Făgăraşului în secolul al XIII-lea. Mănăstirea cisterciană Cârţa ("The Land of Făgăraş in the 13th Century. The Cistercian Monastery of Cârţa"), volume I-II, Cluj-Napoca, 2000, (I) p. 53-170 si (II) p. 119-217.

 Alba Iulia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alba Iulia (Hungarian: Gyulafehérvár, Latin: Apulum, German: Karlsburg/Weißenburg, former Turkish: Erdel Belgradı) is a city in Alba County, Transylvania, Romania with a population of 66,747[1], located on the Mureş River. Between 1541—1690 it was the capital of Principality of Transylvania. The city is historically important for both Romanians and Hungarians.

Four villages are administered by the city: Oarda (Alsóváradja), Pâclişa (Poklos), Miceşti (Ompolykisfalud) and Bărăbanţ (Borbánd).


The modern city is located near the site of the important Dacian political, economic and social center named Apulon (believed by many archaeologists to be the Dacian fortifications on top of Piatra Craivii), mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy.[citation needed] After the southern part of Dacia became a province of the Roman Empire, the capital of the Dacia Apulensis district was established here, and the city was known as Apulum. [2] Apulum was one of the largest centers in Roman Dacia and the seat of the XIII Gemina Legion.

In the 9th century, the city was mentioned under the name of Belgrad / Belograd ("White Castle" in Slavic languages), the Hungarian Gestas mention a ruler named Geula/Gyula/Jula that had discovered the city and made it the capital of his dukedom during 10th century. Following the establishment of the Catholic Transylvanian bishopric after Stephen I of Hungary adopted Catholicism, the first cathedral was built in the 11th century. The present (Catholic) cathedral was built in the 12th or 13th centuries.

In 1442, John Hunyadi, Voivod of Transylvania, used the citadel to make his preparations for a major battle against the Ottoman Turks. The cathedral was enlarged during his reign and served as his place of entombment after his death.Alba IuliaIancu of Hunedoara`s sarcophagus next to those of his elder son Ladislau.

As Gyulafehérvár, Alba Iulia became the capital of the Principality of Transylvania in 1541, a status it was to retain until 1690. The Treaty of Weissenburg was signed in the town in 1551. It was during the reign of Prince Gabriel Bethlen that the city reached a high point in its cultural history, with the establishment of an academy. Further important milestones in the city's development include the creation of the Batthyanaeum Library in the 18th century, and the arrival of the railway in the 19th century.

The main historical area of Alba Iulia is the upper city, developed extensively by Charles VI of the Holy Roman Empire. The Habsburgs renamed the city Karlsburg in honor of Charles. The upper city's fortress with seven bastions, in a stellar shape, was constructed between 1716–1735 by Giovanni Morando Visconti, using the Vauban system—the largest of this kind in South-eastern Europe.

Inside the fortress is the Roman Catholic Cathedral (the most representative building for the Medieval Gothic style in Transylvania), the Batthyaneum library, the Roman Catholic Bishop's palace, the Orthodox Cathedral, Babylon Building (National Museum of Unification), Union Hall, Apor Palace, the Princely Palace, and the University of Alba Iulia.

Built in the 13th century, the Roman Catholic Cathedral is considered to be an important monument of early Transylvanian medieval architecture. The tomb of John Hunyadi is located in here, as is that of the Polish-born Isabella Jagiełło, Queen of Hungary.

The Bathyaneum library is a late church, built in Baroque style. In 1780, Ignác Batthyány, bishop of Transylvania, transform the inside of the establishment to fit for the present use, that of a library. It is famous all over the world for its ample series of manuscripts, incunabula and rare books, such as 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.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hunedoara (German: Eisenmarkt; Hungarian: Vajdahunyad) is a city in Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania. It is in the Cerna Valley near the Poiana Ruscă Mountains within the Carpathian Mountains.

The city of Hunedoara has the most important Gothic-style secular building in Transylvania: Hunyad Castle, which is closely connected with the Hunyadi family. The castle was originally a small royal citadel and was given to Vajk (Romanian: Voicu) by King Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1409. Vajk's son, Johannes de Hunyad, began enlargement of the castle into a Gothic residence in 1446. The castle was damaged by fire five times, but underwent successive renovations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the architects Imre Steindl, Frigyes Schulek and István Möller.


Where the city of Hunedoara stands today, Stone Age tools were discovered in the hill near the castle called Sânpetru (Saint Peter) and in the surrounding villages. The region was very rich in iron, which had been extracted in the area since the Iron Age of Thracians and later, in the Thracian and Roman times. The remains of eight Dacian iron furnaces have been found at the Sânpetru hill near the castle. The proximity of the city to the network of fortresses and temples in the mountains of Orăştie, and the discovery of important monetary treasures of Dacian coins and Roman imperial coins testifies to the importance of this site.

After Dacia was conquered around 106 AD and turned into a Roman province, the iron-rich region attracted the attention of the Romans, who began to exploit it by building furnaces. A "Villa Rustica" emerged in Teliuc, a Roman castrum on Sanpetru hill, outpost of the legio XII Gemina. Other Roman artifacts were discovered in the city area, and also in Pestis, where the remains of a Roman village were discovered.

After the Roman military and administrative retreat due to migrations of people from the east in 267 AD, the Romanized and Christianized population continued to thrive in the mountains and isolated valleys and was able to keep faith and connections with the Byzantine Empire and the civilized world.[citation needed] This is attested by discoveries of artefacts and Christian burial places around the city. Thus, Romanians were born, in the passing of time.[citation needed] Around 1000 AD, small political feuds arose and Transylvania fell under the Hungarian Kingdom and became part of it. Later on, an autonomous[citation needed] principate arose, with populations of Romanians, Hungarians, Szeklers and Saxons.

The first recorded evidence of the city was made in 1265 under the name Hungnod as a hub for leather tanning and wool processing. The city of Hunedoara became an important iron extracting and processing center in Transylvania. "Corpus Inscriptiorum Latinorum" refers to a local inhabitant as "natas ibi, ubi ferum nascitur", that is, "born where the iron was born". The swords and spears, made in the 14th and 15th centuries in the iron foundries and works, were famous for their stiffness in a period of intense fighting with the Ottoman Turks.

The city has been known since the 14th century mainly as the residence of the Hunyadi family. On October 18, 1409, Vajk (Voicu), a wallachian, was rewarded for military bravery by Sigismund of Luxembourg, and received the domain of Hunedoara. The same document mentions Mogoş and Radu, brothers of Vajk and John (Ioan), son of Vajk. Ioannus Corvinus (Hungarian: János Hunyadi; Romanian: Ioan de Hunedoara), the son of Vajk, spent his childhood here. He married Erzsébet (Elisabeta Szilaghi), a Hungarian noblewoman, and advanced to be named voivode of Transylvania, which was by then an autonomous part of the kingdom of Hungary. He consolidated the citadel on top of an ancient fortress and took care of the small city. He studied military tactics in the Italian republics, and became the most skilful warrior of Hungary. Elected regent of Hungary, he engaged in crusades against the Turks. The victories reputed there by coalitions of Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian forces of the region, with help from European lords, managed to secure the Hungarian kingdom from the Turks for more than two centuries. After he died in a military camp after his biggest military triumph, his son, Mátyás (Matthias) later became the most famous Hungarian king, and he also consolidated the castle and the feudal domain of Hunedoara. The castle of Hunedoara became one of the biggest in the world, standing as a witness to the greatness of this family of noble warriors and statesmen, in an era of war and despair, as the Ottoman Empire approached Central Europe.

In the times of Hunyadi's, Hunedoara became a market (opidum) for iron. Matthias Corvinus named the city a tax-free area, and this privilege extended until the 17th century. The population varied between 784 people in 1512 and 896 people in the 17th century. After Matthias died, Hunedoara was owned by his son, John (Hungarian: János; Romanian: Ioan), but he too died young. His wife, Beatrice de Frangepan, married Georg of Hohenzollern, Marquis of Brandenburg in 1509. But Georg de Brandenburg would not establish in Hunedoara, instead naming a representative, György Stolcz.

In 1514, the rebellion of  Gheorghe Doja-György Dózsa made peasants to revolt, and some of them were imprisoned in the castle. The 17th century ruler of Transylvania, Gabriel Bethlem, also extended the castle



This is the gothic castle of the Corvins in Hunedoara (Hungarian: Vajdahunyad, German: Hunniadstadt, Eisenmarkt).  What Marinela wrote on your website is quite accurate.


In the 12-13th centuries it was a small royal citadel.  It was given by Sigismund of Luxemburg to the local nobleman by the name of Vojk (Voicu) for his deeds. 

Vojk's son, Ioannus Corvinus (Johann Huniad, brilliant strategist and warrior lord, aka "the white knight" for his victories against the Ottoman empire) the ruler of Transylvania and the governor of Hungary, inherited the citadel from his father and enlarged it in the 15th century into a gothic residence-stronghold.  This was the favourite residence of his wife, Elisabeth of Szilagy.  She spent most of her life here. 

Furthermore, Ioannus' son, Matthias Corvinus (Matthias Kiraly) king of Hungary (aka "the renaissance king") enlarged it himself by adding a few more gothic but also renaissance touches (Matia wing and loggia were built).  During his rule, the famous Vlad Dracul the Impaler (aka Dracula), once an allied of his, was imprisoned here.

Another important owner of the castle was the Transylvanian prince Gabriel Bethlen who during the 17th century enlarged the castle (late renaissance/baroque Bethlen wing, white tower, gate tower, terrace/artillery platform) and moved the gateway and its bridge where it stands today.

After being owned by 23 noble families the castle was abandoned for about 14-15 years in the first half of the 19th century.  In the second half of the 19th century, the Habsburg authorities renovated the castle adding a few neo-gothic/gothic touches and turning it into a sumptuous royal castle for the Austrian Habsburg emperor. 

The castle received its shape (the way it looks nowadays) mostly in the period between the 15 and 17th centuries.  The castle is considered the most impressive and best preserved gothic castle in Romania. 

I hope this isn't too confusing.  I tried as much as possible to make the long story short.  I am very fond of this castle and it is the only one I know so much about.



All the above text and photos were provided by Michael Bodea. Thank you for your collaboration..



The first written mention of its name – as a Royal Borough – was in 1213 under the Latin name Castrum Clus.[16] However, despite the fact that Clus as a county name was recorded earlier, in the 1173 document Thomas comes Clusiensis,[17] it is believed that the county's designation derives from the name of the castrum—which might have existed prior to its first mention in 1213—and not vice versa.[17] With respect to the name of this camp, it is widely accepted as a derivation from the Latin term clausa – clusa, meaning "closed place", "strait", "ravine".[17] Similar senses are attributed to the Slavic term kluč[17] and the German Klause – Kluse (meaning mountain pass or weir).[18] An alternative hypothesis relates the name of the city to its first magistrate, Miklus – Miklós / Kolos.[18]

The Hungarian form, first recorded in 1246 as Kulusuar, underwent various phonetic changes over the years (uar/vár means "castle" in Hungarian); the variant Koloswar first appears in a document from 1332.[19] Its Saxon name Clusenburg/Clusenbvrg appeared in 1348, but from 1408 the form Clausenburg was used.[19] The Romanian name of the city used to be spelled alternately as Cluj or Cluş[20] – the latter being the case in Mihai Eminescu's Poesis. However, the city's name was finally changed to Cluj-Napoca[21] in 1974 by the Romanian Communist authorities.[22] Possible etymologies for Napoca or Napuca include the name of some Dacian tribes like the Naparis or Napaei, the Greek term napos (νάπος), meaning "timbered valley" or the Indo-European root *snā-p- (Pokorny 971-2), "to flow, to swim, damp".[23] Independent of these hypotheses, scholars agree that the name of the settlement predates the Roman conquest (AD 106).[23]

In Yiddish it is known as קלאזין (Klazin) or קלויזענבורג (Kloyznburg).[20]


Claudiopolis, Coloswar vulgo Clausenburg, Transilvaniæ civitas primaria“. Gravure[a] of medieval Cluj by Georg Houfnagel (1617)

The Roman Empire conquered Dacia in AD 101 and 106, during the rule of Trajan, and the Roman settlement Napoca, established thereafter, is first recorded on a milestone discovered in 1758 in the vicinity of the city.[24] Trajan's successor Hadrian granted Napoca the status of municipium as municipium Aelium Hadrianum Napocenses. Later, in the 2nd century AD,[25] the city gained the status of a colonia as Colonia Aurelia Napoca. Napoca became a provincial capital of Dacia Porolissensis and thus the seat of a procurator. The colonia was evacuated in 274 by the Romans.[24] There are no references to urban settlement on the site for the better part of a millennium thereafter.[26]

At the beginning of the Middle Ages, two groups of buildings existed on the current site of the city: the wooden fortress at Cluj-Mănăştur (Kolozsmonostor) and the civilian settlement developed around the current Piaţa Muzeului (Museum Place) in the city centre.[17][27] Although the precise date of the conquest of Transylvania by the Magyars is not known, the earliest Magyar artefacts found in the region are dated to the first half of the 10th century.[28] In any case, after that time, the city became part of the Kingdom of Hungary. King Stephen I made the city the seat of the castle county of Kolozs, and King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary founded the abbey of Cluj-Mănăştur (Kolozsmonostor), destroyed during the Tatar invasions in 1241 and 1285.[17] As for the civilian colony, a castle and a village were built to the northwest of the ancient Napoca at the earliest in the late 12th century.[17] This new village was settled by large groups of Transylvanian Saxons, encouraged during the reign of Crown Prince Stephen, Duke of Transylvania.[16] The settlement's first reliable mention dates to 1275, in a document of King Ladislaus IV of Hungary, when the village (Villa Kulusvar) was granted to the Bishop of Transylvania.[29] On August 19, 1316, during the rule of the new king, Charles I of Hungary, Cluj was granted the status of a city (Latin civitas), as a reward for the Saxons' contribution to the defeat of the rebellious Transylvanian voivode, Ladislaus Kán.[29]

Many craft guilds were established in the second half of the 13th century, and a patrician stratum based in commerce and craft production displaced the older landed elite in the town's leadership.[30] Through the privilege granted by Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1405, the city opted out from the jurisdiction of voivodes, vice-voivodes and royal judges, and obtained the right to elect a twelve-member jury every year.[31] In 1488, King Matthias Corvinus (born in Klausenburg in 1440) ordered that the centumvirate—the city council, consisting of one hundred men—be half composed from the homines bone conditiones (the wealthy people), with craftsmen supplying the other half; together they would elect the chief judge and the jury.[31] Meanwhile, an agreement was reached providing that half of the representatives on this city council were to be drawn from the Hungarian, half from the Saxon population, and that judicial offices were to be held on a rotating basis.[32] In 1541, Klausenburg became part of the independent Principality of Transylvania after the Ottoman Turks occupied the central part of the Kingdom of Hungary; a period of economic and cultural flourishing followed.[32] Although Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár) served as a political capital for the princes of Transylvania, Klausenburg enjoyed the support of the princes to a greater extent, thus establishing connections with the most important centers of Eastern Europe at that time, like Košice (Kassa), Kraków, Prague and Vienna.[31]
File:Cluj center.jpg

 Downtown Cluj-Napoca, Romania, dominated by St. Michael's Church (Roman Catholic)

The statue of Matei Corvin de Hunedoara (Matthias Rex)

In the 14th century, most of the town's inhabitants and the local elite were Saxons,[32] largely descended from settlers brought in by the Kings of Hungary in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries[118] to develop and defend the southern borders of the province.[118] By the middle of the next century roughly half the population had Hungarian names. In Transylvania as a whole, the Reformation sharpened ethnic divisions: Saxons became Lutheran while Hungarians either remained Catholic or became Calvinist or Unitarian. In Klausenburg, however, the religious lines were blurred. Isolated both geographically from the main areas of German settlement in southern Transylvania[116] and institutionally because of their distinctive religious trajectory, many Saxons eventually assimilated to the Hungarian majority over several generations. New settlers to the town largely spoke Hungarian, a language that many Saxons gradually adopted.[32] (In the seventeenth century, out of more than thirty royal free towns, only seven had a Hungarian majority, with Kolozsvár/Klausenburg being one of them;[119] the rest were largely German-dominated.[119]) In this manner Kolozsvár became largely Hungarian speaking and would remain so through the mid-20th century, though 4.8% of its residents identified as German as late as 1880.[120]

In terms of religion, reforming ideas first appeared in the middle of the 16th century. During Gáspár Heltai's service as preacher, the Lutheran trend grew in importance, as did the Swiss doctrine of Calvinism.[33] By 1571, the Turda (Torda) Diet had adopted a more radical religion, Ferenc Dávid's Unitarianism, characterised by the free interpretation of the Bible and denial of the dogma of the Trinity.[33] Stephen Báthory founded a Jesuit academy in Klausenburg in order to promote an anti-Reform movement; however, it did not have much success.[33] For a year, in 1600–1601, Cluj became part of the personal union of Michael the Brave.[34][35] With the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699, Klausenburg became part of the Habsburg Monarchy.[36]

There are a large number of castles in the countryside surroundings, constructed by wealthy medieval families living in the city. The most notable of them is the Bonţida Bánffy Castle—once known as "the Versailles of Transylvania"[73]—in the nearby village of Bonţida, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from the city centre. In 1963, the castle was used as a set for Liviu Ciulei's film Forest of the Hanged, which won an award at Cannes.[74]


There are other castles located in the vicinity of the city; indeed, the castle at Bonţida is not even the only one constructed by the Bánffy family. The commune of Gilău features the Wass-Bánffy Castle,[75] while another Bánffy Castle is located in the Răscruci area.[76] In addition, Nicula Monastery, erected during the 18th century, is an important pilgrimage site in northern Transylvania. This monastery houses the renowned wonder-working Madonna of Nicula.[77][78] The icon is said to have wept between February 15 and March 12, 1669.[79] During this time, nobles, officers, laity and clergy came to see it. At first they were sceptical, looking at it on both sides, but then humbly crossed themselves and returned home petrified by the wonder they had seen.[79] During the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (commemorating the death of the Virgin Mary) on August 15, more than 150,000 people from all over the country come to visit the monastery.[77]



A street in Sighişoara

During the 12th century, German craftsmen and merchants known as the Transylvanian Saxons were invited to Transylvania by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the frontier of his realm. The chronicler Krauss lists a Saxon settlement in the actual Sighiṣoara by 1191. By 1280 it was known by the Latin name of Castrum Sex, and by 1298 by the Saxon name of Schespurch resp. Schaesbrich. By 1337 Sighişoara had become a royal center for the kings, who awarded the settlement urban status in 1367 as the Civitas de Segusvar.

The city played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighişoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it. It is estimated that during the 16th and the 17th centuries Sighişoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches. The Baroque sculptor Elias Nicolai lived in the city. The Wallachian prince Vlad Dracul (father of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), who lived in exile in the town, let minted coins in the city (otherwise coinage was the monopoly of the Hungarian kings in the Kingdom of Hungary) and issued the first document listing the city's Romanian name, Sighişoara.

The city was the setting for George I Rákóczi's election as Prince of Transylvania and King of Hungary in 1631. Sighişoara suffered military occupation, fires, and plagues during the 17th and 18th centuries. Important source for the history of the 17th century Transylvania, for the period of 1606-1666, the records of Georg Kraus, the town's notary [1].

The nearby plain of Albeşti was the site of the Battle of Segesvár, where the revolutionary Hungarian army led by Józef Bem was defeated by the Russian army led by Luders on 31 July 1849. A monument was constructed in 1852 to the Russian general Skariatin, who died in the battle. The Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi is generally believed to have been killed in the battle, and a monument was constructed in his honor at Albeşti in 1897. After World War I Sighişoara passed with Transylvania from Austria-Hungary to the Kingdom of Romania.

Central Sighişoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city, it has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year, a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July.

View from Villa Franka

Sighişoara is considered to be the most beautiful and well preserved inhabited citadel in Europe,[citation needed] with an authentic medieval architecture. In Eastern Europe, Sighişoara is one of the few fortified towns which are still inhabited. The town is made up of two parts. The medieval stronghold was built on top of a hill and is known as the "Citadel" (Cetate).The lower town lies in the valley of Târnava Mare river.

The houses inside Sighişoara Citadel show the main features of a craftsmen's town. However, there are some houses which belonged to the former patriciate, like the Venetian House and the House with Antlers.

"The House with Antlers" has been brought into the possession of the Messerschmitt Foundation with the help of the Romanian Government and the town council of Sighisoara in April 2000, defrauding the legitimate heirs, the descendents Leicht-Bacon (with English roots), who are mentioned in the cadaster of Sighisoara as owners before the communist dispossession of 1950.

In 2001-2003 the construction of a Dracula theme park in the 'Breite' nature preserve near Sighişoara was considered but ultimately rejected, due to the strong opposition of local civil society groups and national and international media as well as politically influential persons, as the theme park would have detracted from the medieval style of the city and would have destroyed the nature preserve.


Ethnic groups [1]:

  • Romanians (76.06%)
  • Hungarians (18.36%)
  • Rroma (3.51%)
  • Germans (1.92%)


Sighişoara is a popular tourist destination, due to its well-preserved walled old town. The landmark of the city is the Clock Tower, a 64m high tower built in 1556. It is today a museum of history.

Inside the covered staircase in Sighişoara

Other interesting sights are:

  • Sighişoara Citadel - a 12th Century Saxon edifice, is the historic center of the city. Still occupied, the citadel is listed as a World Heritage Site.
  • Clock Tower - Built in 1360 and standing at 60 meters tall atop the citadel hill. Inside is a museum that finishes in a great view from the top.
  • Weapon Museum - next to Vlad's birthplace. Very small, but it contains an interesting selection of medieval weapons (swords, arrows, etc.).
  • Covered Staircase - a very old stone staircase with a wooden roof along the whole span. This leads up to the Church on the Hill and the cemetery.
  • Church on the Hill - contains many frescoes and a crypt. Built on the location of the Roman fort. Close to the cemetery on the side of the hill, which contains many German tombstones.
  • Bust of Vlad Tepes - Located around the corner from his birthplace, within sight of the Clock Tower.

 Famous residents

  • Vlad Dracu
  • Hermann Oberth, one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics
  • Johannes Kelpius, a German intellectual, musician, and mystic who founded a religious community when he immigrated to the American colony of Pennsylvania in the late seventeenth century
  • Johann Michael Ackner, famous Saxon archaeologist
  • Ralph Gunesch, German football player as of 2006
  • Friedrich Grünanger, architect
  • Radu Voina, handball player, national team manager
  • Adrian Ivanitchi, folk guitarist


    Tēmēshwäˈrä, Hung. Temesvár, city (1990 pop. 351,293), W Romania, in the Banat, on the Beja Canal. The name is a derivate of the name of the Timis River, known in Roman times as Tibiscus. Timisoara was first mentioned in history as Castrum Temesiensis in a decree of King Andrew II of Hungary in 1212. As a city, Timisoara was mentioned first in 1474.

    The chief city of the former Banat of Temesvar, it is a railroad hub and an industrial center, with engineering works, plants processing food and tobacco, and factories manufacturing textiles, machinery, and chemicals. Timişoara is a Roman Catholic and an Orthodox episcopal see and has a university (founded 1945) and other institutions of higher education. It was an ancient Roman settlement and came under Magyar domination in 896 and was annexed to Hungary in 1010. An important frontier fortress, Timişoara was held by the Turks from 1552 until its liberation in 1716 by Eugene of Savoy. The Treaty of Passarowitz (1718) formally restored it to Austria-Hungary. It passed to Romania by the Treaty of Trianon (1920). In Dec., 1989, demonstrations protesting the removal of an outspoken priest, Láslo Tökés, sparked the revolution that led to the downfall of Nicolae Ceauşescu's Communist regime. The inner city is surrounded by boulevards, which have replaced the former ramparts.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Braşov (Romanian pronunciation: [braˈʃov]; Hungarian: Brassó; German: Kronstadt; Medieval Latin: Brassovia or Corona


The city was first atested in the 13th century under the name Corona. The current Romanian and Hungarian names are derived from the Pecheneg word, barasu, meaning "fortress". On Tâmpa Mountain, located on the southern side of the city, there was a citadel called Brassovia, which gave both the Romanian and the Hungarian name of the city.

The first attested mention of Braşov is Terra Saxonum de Barasu ("Saxon Land of Baras"), in a 1252 document. The German name Kronstadt means "Crown City", and is reflected in the city's coat of arms, as well as in its Medieval Latin name, Corona. The three names of the city (Braşov/Brassó, Kronstadt, and Corona) were used simultaneously in the Middle Ages.

From 1950 to 1960, during part of the Communist period in Romania, the city was called Oraşul Stalin (Stalin City), after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. [2]


The oldest traces of human activity and settlements in Braşov date back to the Neolithic age (about 9500 BCE). Archaeologists, working from the last half of the 19th century, discovered continuous traces of human settlements in areas situated in Braşov: Valea Cetăţii, Pietrele lui Solomon, Şprenghi, Tâmpa, Dealul Melcilor, and Noua. The first three locations shows traces of Dacian citadels; Şprenghi Hill housed a Roman-style construction. The last two locations had their names applied to Bronze Age cultures — Schneckenberg and Noua.

German colonists known as the Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in Braşov's development. These Germans were invited by King Géza II of Hungary to develop towns, build mines, and cultivate the land of Transylvania at different stages between 1141 and 1162. The settlers came primarily from the Rhineland, Flanders, and the Moselle region, with others from Thuringia, Bavaria, Wallonia, and even France.

In 1211, by order of King Andrew II of Hungary, the Teutonic Knights fortified the Burzenland to defend the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. Although the crusaders were evicted by 1225, the colonists they brought in remained, as did three distinct settlements they founded on the site of Braşov:

  • Corona, around the Black Church (Biserica Neagră);
  • Martinsberg, west of Cetăţuia Hill;
  • Bartholomä, on the eastern side of Sprenghi Hill.

Germans living in Braşov were mainly involved in trade and crafts. The location of the city at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, together with certain tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence. They contributed a great deal to the architectural flavor of the city. Fortifications around the city were erected and continually expanded, with several towers maintained by different craftsmen's guilds, according to medieval custom. Part of the fortification ensemble was recently restored using UNESCO funds, and other projects are ongoing. At least two entrances to the city, Poarta Ecaterinei (or Ekaterinentor) and Poarta Şchei are still in existence. The city center is marked by the mayor's former office building (Casa Sfatului) and the surrounding square (piaţa), which includes one of the oldest buildings in Braşov, the Hirscher Haus, owned by a wealthy merchant. Nearby is the "Black Church" (Biserica Neagră), which some claim to be the largest Gothic style church in South-Eastern Europe.

Over 500 years old, Biserica Neagra (the Black Church) is the most representative historic monument in Brasov, the greatest Gothic church in Transylvania and, in some historians’ point of view, the greatest religious edifice from Vienna to Istanbul. More than that, inside the church there is one of the greatest organs in Europe, and also the largest collection of old carpets from Asia Minor. The construction of this Gothic Evangelic church began around 1380, in the time of Vicar Thomas Sander, and initially it was named Saint Mary’s Church.

In 1421 an important part of the construction was destroyed during the Turkish invasion, and that is why the church was completely built in 1477. Nowadays it is considered the greatest place of worship in Romania, with impressive dimensions: 90 meters in length, between 25 and 37 meters wide, 65 meters from the floor level to the highest point of its Cross tower, while it can house about 5000 people. More than that, the biggest bell in the country, weighting 6.3 tones, is to be found in its tower as well.

Black Church (Biserica Neagra), Brasov
Black Church, Brasov.

Then, after almost 200 years, a fire partially destroyed it in 1689, and the smoke blackened the walls, and for a long period of time the façade couldn’t be renovated. The restoration lasted about 100 years, but the place of worship was called Biserica Neagra (the Black Church) because of its black smoked walls (Die Schwarze Kirche in German and Fekete Templom in Hungarian). The present roof, 20 meters in height, was also built after this fire. The workers who restored it were from Danzing, and this is the reason why the new vaults are in Baroque style and not in Gothic.

Biserica Neagra, Brasov
Black Church – Brasov.

Black Church’s organ

The Black Church’s organ, with 4000 pipes and considered one of the biggest in Europe, was built between 1836 and 1839 by the Berlin organ maker Buchholz, and it is famous for its sonority. In 1924 the gallery in front of the organ was enlarged in order to organize sacred music concerts with chorus’ participation. Many vinyl discs, audio tapes and CDs were made in the course of years.
Nowadays an organ concert is organized every week.

Priceless Values

The collection of old carpets from Brussa, Usak and Ghiordes regions in Asia Minor, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries represent an invaluable thesaurus of the Black Church. Those were donated in the course of years by the craftsmen, merchants and citizens of the city.

Biserica Neagra, Brasov
Black Church – Brasov.

The furniture and worship objects represent other remarkable values that turn this construction into a place that no tourist can miss. For instance, the bronze font made by the local craftsmen was donated in 1472 by Vicar Johannes Reudel. After almost 150 years, in 1716, blacksmith Meensen Hannes made a wonderful wrought iron grating that surrounds the font. Then, in the South porch there is a mural painting made after 1476 that shows Virgin Mary and Child Jesus, featured between Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara. The crests of Matthias Corvinus and his wife Beatrice of Naples – Aragon are at the bottom of the painting.
Three folds, with five paintings from the Feldioara altar (the end of the 15th century) are also to be mentioned. The pews in the naos date from the end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century and have Baroque wooden carved ornaments. Then the lecterns are in neo – gothic style, dating from 1866, and the pews in the centre of the naos, made of oak wood, were placed there in 1937.

Black Church – Brasov.

The old tombstones of some famous personalities of the city were built in the side spaces of the West entrance when the neo – gothic altar was built (in 1866) and when the heating system was installed (in 1937).
An oiled canvas representing “The Wedding From Cana (Nunta din Cana)“, work of Hans Eder painter, it is exposed on the frontal wall of the northern lateral nave.
Hans Elder’s oil painting showing “The Wedding at Cana” is exhibited on the frontal wall of the North side naos. The emblem of the city, representing a crown on a rooted trunk, is plotted in relief on the pillar in front of the pulpit.
Inside the church there are also some sculptures, the oldest of all being the bust of Saint John the Baptist. The others represent Saint Thomas, Saint Jacob the Pilgrim, Jesus Salvator Mundi, Virgin Mary, Saints Pavel, Luke and Sebastian.

A statue of a child that seems to be about to fall is to be found on the North buttress.

A sculpture uncommon for a place of worship is to be found on the North buttress. It is about the representation of a child that seems to be about to fall. The legend says that when they were building the church, one of the workers became jealous of a very talented apprentice. At one point he asked the child to lift something from the cornice, and when he leant out, the worker pushed him. The legend also states that the sculpture was made by the other workers to the memory of the cowardly killed child.

Once Braşov became a German colony, Romanians were denied several privileges by the new German settlers. They were no longer recognized as citizens of the city, and as such they were no longer able to continue to practice their crafts and operate their businesses. Additionally, their primary religion (Orthodox) was not officially recognized throughout Transylvania, especially during and after the 15th century. Most turned to shepherding as a result, ventures which still returned considerable wealth - allowing them to build the very first community stone church in Transylvania, to establish the first Romanian printing press in Transylvania (1558), and later to establish a library. The German burghers still relied on Romanian speakers from within the community in their dealings with the Hospodars of Wallachia and Moldavia, and occasionally with the Ottoman Empire.

The cultural and religious importance of the Romanian church and school in Şchei is underlined by the generous donations received from more than thirty hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, as well as that from Elizabeth of Russia. In the 17th and 19th centuries, the Romanians in Şchei campaigned for national, political, and cultural rights, and were supported in their efforts by Romanians from all other provinces, as well as by the local Greek merchant community. In 1838 they established the first Romanian language newspaper, Gazeta Transilvaniei and the first Romanian institutions of higher education (Şcolile Centrale Greco-Ortodoxe - "The Greek-Orthodox Central Schools", today named after Andrei Şaguna). The Holy Roman Emperor and sovereign of Transylvania Joseph II awarded Romanians citizenship rights for a brief period during the latter decades of the 18th century.

In 1850 the town had 21,782 inhabitants: 8,874 (40.7%) Germans, 8,727 (40%) Romanians, 2,939 (13.4%) Hungarians. [3]

In 1918, when Transylvania became part of Romania, organizations of the German minority from Transylvania declared their allegiance to the new Romanian state. The inter-war period saw a flourishing of economic and cultural life




Copper engraving of Sibiu (Hermanstatt), c. 1630

The first official record referring to the Sibiu area comes from 1191, when Pope Celestine III confirmed the existence of the free prepositure of the German settlers in Transylvania, the prepositure having its headquarters in Sibiu, named Cibinium at that time.[2] It was probably built near a Roman settlement, one that would be known during the early Middle Ages as Caedonia.

In the 14th century, it was already an important trade center. In 1376, the craftsmen were divided in 19 guilds. Sibiu became the most important ethnic German city among the seven cities that gave Transylvania its German name Siebenbürgen (literally seven cities), and it was home to the Universitas Saxorum, the assembly of Germans in Transylvania. Common opinion in the 17th century ascribed Sibiu the quality of being the easternmost city to be part of the European sphere; it was also the eastern terminus of postal routes.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the city became the second and later the first most important center of Transylvanian Romanian ethnics. The first Romanian-owned bank had its headquarters here (The Albina Bank), as did the ASTRA (Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and Romanian's People Culture). After the Romanian Orthodox Church was granted status in the Habsburg Empire from the 1860s onwards, Sibiu became the Metropolitan seat, and the city is still regarded as the third most important center of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Between the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and 1867 (the year of the Ausgleich), Sibiu was the meeting-place of the Transylvanian Diet, which had taken its most representative form after the Empire agreed to extend voting rights in the region.

After World War I, when Austria-Hungary was dissolved, Sibiu became part of Romania; the majority of its population was still ethnic German (until 1941) and counted large Romanian and Hungarian communities. Starting from the 1950s and until after 1990, most of the city's ethnic Germans emigrated to Germany. Among the roughly 2,000 who have remained is Klaus Johannis, who is currently mayor of Sibiu City.

[edit] Milestones in Sibiu's history

1191 - Mentioned for the first time in a document of the Vatican, under the name "Cibinium" (due to the river Cibin that flows through the city)

Known in German under the name Hermannstadt, Sibiu has always been the most important center of the German minority in Transylvania. Nowadays, Sibiu has the most numerous German community in Romania but also a fairly important Hungarian community. Still, Sibiu is a city with a predominant Romanian population (95% of the population is of Romanian origin) which knew how to preserve and mingle the 3 cultures to which the culture of other existing minorities was added.
Legend has it that the lost children of Hamelin came out of the ‘Almasch’ caves (Varghis) in Transilvania, somewhere near the nowadays location of Sibiu. This is the romanticized explanation of a unique phenomenon which explains the appearance of a blond-haired blue-eyed people on these lands, who spoke German and lived by the customs of peoples living thousands of kilometers away. In effect, the fortresses and fortified villages in Transylvania were founded in the 12th century by immigrants coming from the Moselle valley area, known under the name of Saxons. The first documentary mentioning referring to the Sibiu area dates back from 1191, when Pope Celestine III confirmed the existence of the free prepositure of the Germans in Transylvania, the prepositure having its headquarters in Sibiu, named Cibinium at that time.
Brought here by the Hungarian kings, the Saxons were granted numerous rights and benefits in exchange for their help in defending the lands against the attacks of the Tatars and Turks. They created ‘the land of the 7 fortresses’, 7 fortified cities, as well as numerous villages in which fortified churches were erected to serve as a shelter in the event of an attack.


The city of Sibiu was one of the most important fortified cities in Southeastern Europe. Multiple rings were built around the city, most of them out of clay bricks. The south-eastern fortifications are the best kept, and all three parallel lines are still visible. The first is an exterior earth mound, the second is a 10-meter-tall red brick wall, and the third line comprises towers linked by another 10-meter-tall wall. All structures are connected via a labyrinth of tunnels and passageways, designed to ensure transport between the city and lines of defense.

In the 16th century more modern elements were added to the fortifications, mainly leaf-shaped bastions. One of these survived to this day, as the Haller Bastion (all the way down Coposu Boulevard).