Alba Iulia and its imposing fortress

The city of Alba Iulia is located in Romania, about 330 kilometers northwest of Bucharest. With 64,000 inhabitants, Alba Iulia stands out for its architecture and one of its main characteristic monuments is the fortress that is located in the center of the city.

Those who travel through the region of Transylvania, between the Romanian capital and the European center, probably pass through the city, which is on Route A1 (European Road E81).

Alba Iulia location, Romania map

The city was built on the banks of the Mureş River, framed by the Apuseni Mountains to the west and fields of crops to the east.

Formerly known as Apulum, it was the capital of Dacia Superior, receiving the current name in honor of Emperor Marco Aurelio’s mother, Julia Augusta.

Alba Iulia Fortress
Inside Alba Carolina Fortress.

Alba Iulia is known for its impressive fortress, called Alba Carolina (Cetatea Alba Carolina). It is located in the center of the city, on a small hill.

The construction took place between 1716 and 1735, during the reign of Charles VI of Habsburg.

The fortress has a huge twelve-kilometer wall that surrounds the entire perimeter with a star shape. Baroque doors and seven towers complete the structure that served to protect the interior of the citadel.

Alba Iulia fortress, blocks
The moat and the high walls protected the citadel.

Its main entrance is on 1 Decembrie 1918 Boulevard, in the eastern sector of the Union Park (Parcul Unirii), in the center of the city.

Admission is free, and upon entering we find the Cathedral of Saint Michael (Catedrala Sfântul Mihail). It was built in the 12th century, but after the destruction by the Tartars, the cathedral received a reconstruction in the 18th century. The temple stands out for the Gothic choir, a Renaissance door and the imposing tower.

Catedrala Sfantul Mihail
Saint Michael Cathedral (Sfantul Mihail).

We can also visit the Episcopal Palace, the Batthyaneum Library Palace, with more than 60 thousand volumes and valuable manuscripts, or The Reunification Cathedral, built between 1921 and 1922 and inspired by the church of Târgovişte.

Within the fortress we can find the Union Hall (Sala Unirii), where in 1918 the union of Transylvania to the Kingdom of Romania was proclaimed.

The whole fortress has pedestrian paths and magnificent panoramic views of Alba Iulia and the fields that surround it.

Other historical places that can be found in the city are the Coronation Cathedral (Catedrala Încoronării), dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and the National Unity Cathedral (Unităţii Naţionale).

Meanwhile, most restaurants, shops and bars are located along Boulevard Transilvaniei. It runs west from the Union Park (Parcul Unirii), in front of the fortress, and has a length of 900 meters. It has a pedestrian section and in summer it is embellished by the flowers and plants that decorate it.

In addition to tours of Alba Iulia, its proximity to the Apuseni Mountains, allows visits to other beautiful towns such as Zlatna, Abrud and Campeni.

Alba Iulia city, seen from Fortress
Looking east from the citadel, you can see part of the city and in the background, the fields near the Mureş River.

Gastronomy and nightlife

La Maison de Caroline, PUB 13 Medieval Restaurant, Vila Preciosa and Dante Cafe & Dine are some of the most outstanding restaurants in Alba Iulia, with moderate prices. Restaurant Remeny is one of the best at tasting Romanian and Central European cuisine.

Somewhat cheaper, Spice Up, Casa del Sole, Oliveto and Pizzeria Erol are recommended.

The Gothic bar is located inside the Alba Carolina Fortress. It offers a beer garden and offers in beer from 1.75 euros and wines from 7.50 euros. Ideal to be in contact with the architecture and the tourist environment of the fortress.

Some of the nightclubs are Stage Club and Club Allegria, both located in the vicinity of the citadel.

Alba Iulia park
Alba Iulia is perfect to visit it on foot.

Accommodation

Alba Iulia has a varied range of accommodation. The cheapest are priced at around 12 or 15 euros per night and are Citadel Hostel, Casa Ana, Pensiunea Masinic or Strong Hostel Alba Iulia, the latter even has bicycles for rent for their guests.

On the other hand, among the most luxurious we have Pensiunea Apulum, Pension Marylou, Vila Preciosa, Hotel Transilvania, among others. All of them with 4 stars and with prices that range between 35 and 55 euros per night.

Most of the establishments are located in the downtown area, within walking distance of the Alba Iulia fortress.

Downtown Alba Iulia
Boulevard Transilvaniei, in the background is the National Union Cathedral (Catedrala Unității Naționale).

 Transport

Traveling from Bucharest to Alba Iulia is possible by route A1 / E81, which has a good highway to the city of Pitești, then it becomes a conventional route and crosses the mountainous region near the city of Râmincu Vâlcea. When you arrive in Sibiu, there is a section of motorway available again. The distance between Alba Iulia and Bucharest is 330 kilometers (205 miles).

From Hungary or the center of Europe, Alba Iulia is reached by entering Romania via Route 1 through the city of Oradea and passing through Cluj Napoca.

Alba Iulia has a railway station. The company Romanian Railways (CFR) provides the service. The journey takes about 7 hours and 45 minutes from Bucharest, with a price of around 18 euros.

Although most international travel trains make their stop at Teius, located 12 miles north.

The bus station is located at the entrance to the city, about 15 blocks from the center and very close to the train station.

The companies Fany, Dacos and Alis Group have bus routes between Alba Iulia and Bucharest as well as other Romanian cities.

Traveling between Bucharest and Alba by bus takes about 6 and a half hours and prices start at 11 euros.

Alba Iulia is close to two airports with flights to some major cities in Europe, the Sibiu International Airport and the Cluj-Napoca International Airport.

Alba Iulia map

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