Trail: the four citadels of Cluj
This tourist route is especially for all those passionate about history and it aims to bring together the four fortifications whose relics are nowadays within the city.
Step 1 (A) – Start from Calvaria Church in Mănăştur. One can reach the plateau on which the church is built by the earth wall that once used to defend Castrum Clus, the first fortress of Cluj, attested in 1213. Archaeological excavations have shown that there used to be a fortress ever since the tenth century. Some historians consider that Prince Gelu’s residence could have been on that spot. One thing is for sure tough: it was captured in 1068 by Pechenegs and then rebuilt. Inside the fortress, in the last quarter of the twelfth century, there was also a Benedictine abbey . In 1241, Castrum Clus was completely distroyed by the Tatars. The Benedictine abbey was rebuilt after the invasion, but the fortification wasn’t.
The earth wall still surrounding the church on the same side with the road bridge dates back to the period after the Pecheneg attack in 1068, so one must give it due respect, considering the fact that there are 1000 years since it was first built! The Plateau Calvaria is visited daily from 10.00-13.00 and 15.00-18.30. The church can be visited only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 16.00-18.00.
Step 2 (B) – Take the tram or go by car to the Hungarian State Theatre of Cluj. Then, go on Emil Isac Street till you reach the National College “George Bariţiu”courtyard. Here you can find the only part still free of the wall of the Old City (Óvar). This small fortification, of only seven hectares, used to surround the first site of the medieval town, placed around the Museum Square. The fortress was built by the Saxon settlers, settled in Cluj after the invasion of 1241, which also meant the destruction of Calvaria fortress. Although it is a historical monument, the Old City is not yet inserted into the tourist circuit. To see the wall from the courtyard of N. C. George Bariţiu, you must ask for the gate-keeper’s permission to avoid any kind of inconvenience.
Step 3 (C) – Go to Emil Isac Street and take the first left on Virgil Fulicea Street. Go by the front of the Matthias house and continue on Sextil Puşcariu Street till the corner. Here, in the only surviving tower of the Old City is the Museum of Speleology. However, for the moment, the museum is closed to the public. The old city wall can be seen on the inside covered terrace of Fullton Hotel, which is attached to the (temporarily closed) Museum of Speleology.
Step 4 (D) – Go on Sextil Puşcariu Street to the intersection with Emile Zola Street, here go to right and then one more time to right on Regele Ferdinand (King Ferdinand) Street. In the back yard from no. 5, where the Terrace Ferdinand 5 is functioning, there is another part of the Old City wall.
The Medieval Fortress Wall, on Potaissa street
Step 5 (E) – Cross over Unirii Square, go next on Napoca Street till its end, near Lucian Blaga Square and you will reach Potaissa Street. The whole street is lined on one side by the impressive wall of the medieval fortress. It’s actually the second medieval fortress of Cluj, built on a city privilege received on July the 2nd 1405 from King Sigismund of Luxembourg, who gave the city the right to extend its fortified enclosure. The Medieval Fortress defended a site seven times larger than the Old City, site that largely coincides with today’s historic center between Avram Iancu Square and Lucian Blaga Square.
Step 6 (F) – Go down the Potaissa street, cross over and go on Mihail Kogalniceanu street to its end, at the intersection with Baba Novac street. Here you have the Tailors’ Tower, a symbol of Cluj, along with a portion from the medieval city wall, with battlements and the watch road. Restored in 2009, after a period in which it was left to shelter homeless people, the tower is now a center for urban culture, which hosts various exhibitions and also a coffee-house. The tower used to defend the southeast corner of the city, being first mentioned in 1475, when the tailors’ guild was already in charge of its maintenance and defense.
Step 7 (G) – Go till the end of Baba Novac street, crossing Eroilor street. Cross Bulevardul 21 Decembrie (21 December Boulevard) by the front of the prefecture, then turn left and continue until after the Unitarian Church. Here, go right on David Ferenc Street and straight ahead until you reach the Firemen’s Tower, also part of the medieval fortress.
Originally called the Locksmiths Tower, due to the guild that used to take care of it, it was built in the nineteenth century as an observation place for firemen – hence the current name. For a period, it served as a firemen’s museum, but it has been closed for the last 10 years.
Step 8 (H) – Make a left onto King Ferdinand Street, then right, cross the bridge over Someş, turn left on Dragalina street and then follow Aleea Scărilor ( the Alley of Stairs) to the Cetăţuie (the Small Fortress). The fourth and the last fortification of Cluj was built by Austrians in the eighteenth century in Vauban style. The walls, star-shaped, were made of soil and they are now covered by grass and trees. Two of the brickwork gates of the fortification still exist . The Water Gate, from the city at the end of the Alley of Stairs and Gate Vienna, across the parking of Hotel Transylvania. The earth walls and the dig of the fortress can be best observed if you go beyond the second gate on the left.
When coming back to town, you can follow the Baroque Route.