29th August 2014
I woke up only when Andreea called me for a breakfast. The food was the typical Romanian cheese, breads and spreads. She also made me a nice hot cup of tea. When we were about to be off, I realized that I cannot wear my sport shoes. They were very salty the other day and I had to wash them. They were not dry yet. The weather was sunny and funny part was that I wore formal shoes with shorts and T-shirt!
Anyways, here is a little etymological description of the city of Alba Iulia: Alba in Romanian means white and comes from the time when the Slavics called the settlement Belgrade (“White castle”). Iulia comes from the name of the Romanian prince Gelu (Iulius in Latin) who ruled over the land around Alba Iulia during the 10th century.
We went to the old town area by car and started exploring the historical monuments all clubbed together in the small town. It is surrounded by the Alba Carolina Fortress. The fortress was built between 1714 and 1738 with a perimeter of approximately 12 kilometres. This is the most representative baroque, Vauban-type star-shaped fortress which is one of largest of this kind. It looks very spectacular if viewed from the sky. Of course we did not have an access to the helicopter, however we found a floral depiction of the image in the garden which I would like to present here:
Inside of the fortress/castle is renovated in such a way that one should feel the legacy and the intimacy with the glories of the bygone age. Most important monument in the old town is the Orthodox Unification Cathedral. On 1st December 1918, in this very cathedral, the unification of the province of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania was announced officially.
This cathedral was built in 1921 after the reunification. Not so far from this cathedral, is the Roman Catholic Cathedral which stands firm since 14th century, however its tower was built in the 17th century:
The fortress has seven bastions or bulwarks (Eugene of Savoia, St. Stefan, The Trinity, St. Michael (that is Mihai Viteazul, whose statues are ubiquitous in Romania), St. Carol, St. Capistrano and St. Elizabeth). Most of them were well equipped with cannons and other old school guns. Some of them are still kept for display.
Every Saturday, at 12:00, one can observe cannon salutes (Yes, real firing from the cannons) which can make the whole fortress lively. On every other (ordinary) day, The Changing of guards ceremony is conducted at 12:00. We made it to the entrance of the Route of Three Fortifications where the ceremony started. It was a very spectacular event with one king-guard giving instructions to the uniformed guards and they performed some drills with their swords. After the ceremony, we entered the Route of Three fortifications which allowed us to walk 2 km of 12 km perimeter of the fortress. We found two of the many guards chilling in the garden there (after their march and drills). They were so cool that they participated in our little photo-session !
The bastions and routes connecting them offered us unique views. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk in the bright and warm Sun:
While all the gates of the fortress are magnificent , the third gate stands out because of the sculptures and because of the important monumental pillar / cellar in front of it. The peasant revolt that was executed on 28th February 1785, was led by three revolutionists on the Pitchfork Hill ( Horea, Cloşca and Crişan). This revolt had turned the city into a symbol of the fight for justice and freedom. The technical university of Cluj is named after these guys.
We were naturally very hungry after finishing a long walk in the route of three fortifications. Andreea had it all planned: a nice restaurant in the heart of the fortress. “Pub 13 Medieval Restaurant”. The name suited its location. I had some salad with baked vegetables: singular as it sounds ! On our way back to the car, Andreea showed me the university whose name was most surprising. Check this out :
On our way home, Andreea confirmed a queer thing which I had been observing this since Cluj: Most Romanian men stare at women all the time. On the streets, in the parks, in the buses… all public places. It is so common that every woman is aware of it and they don’t care about it.
We also visited a hair saloon for I wanted to get a hair-cut ! (It was cheap there and I was to attend a wedding on 31st). Afternoon I spent at Andreea’s home doing Skype calls with my friends while she worked on her thesis. Later in the evening we watched the tennis match of Simona (Sania Mirza of Romania). Unfortunately she lost the match.
We went out for dinner in a very good restaurant in the city. The pasta was not one of the best pastas I had had. Except the tennis match and the pasta, Andreea had made my day with her enthusiasm and alacrity to show me the city!