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L’imposante Cluj

On peut probablement parler d’une certaine trinité des 3 grandes villes de la Transylvanie: Brașov, Sibiu et Cluj-Napoca (souvent identifiée Cluj uniquement). Cette dernière étant plus éloignée de Bucharest, on a choisi de l’intégrer à ce road trip plutôt que de la faire dans une fin de semaine avec vol interne avec une compagnie “low-cost”.

I am often reading forum travel questions about which of these 3 Transylvanian cities is the “best” or the one to be prioritized because of the distance between them. They all have similar features with their well preserved houses, grand public places so it is more a question of personal feel.  I prefer Sibiu personally because of its three important public “piețele” (squares) linked closely together and the grandiose Brukenthal Palace with its important art collection. But Brașov is so well located, being only 3 hours from Bucharest and at least 3 major fortified churches and of course the famous Bran and Peles castles within reasonable distance. So many possibilities, so little time usually and you will appreciate spending more than a few hours (at least 2 nights) to get to know the history of each of those bigger cities.

The 3 big Transylvanian cities, Map courtesy of the Nations Online Project

Alors, venant de Oradea à l’ouest, un séjour de 2 nuits pour se concentrer sur la ville de Cluj-Napoca était une bonne idée pour ce dernier arrêt avant le retour vers Bucharest (6 heures de voiture si tout va bien!).

Cluj est souvent considérée comme la capitale non-officielle de la Transylvanie. C’est aussi tout l’héritage hongrois qui est plus en évidence avec l’imposante cathédrale catholique sur la grande place (Piata Unirii de nos jours) et son groupe statuaire autour du roi hongrois Mathias Corvinus révélé en 1902.  

Mathias Rex Statue on Piata Unirii

Matthias Corvinus was born in Cluj (then Kolozsvár), as the second son of the great Hungarian leader János Hunyadi (see a reference to his Corvin Castle here).  For political reasons, he was the logical and most supported candidate ultimately voted King of Hungary at the age of 14.  He contributed to a great extent to the prosperity of his hometown while fighting off the Ottomans invading the territory.  In 1467, he acquitted the owners of the house in which he was born from paying taxes and fees to the city.  Our city guide mentioned that only a small portion of the building we see today is the actual house where Matthias was born (left hand side to the door and before the line of separation) but since the tax-free privilege was enforced by the next kings and princes, the house kept expanding with the years.. 

Matthias Corvinus Birth House

Aujourd’hui, Cluj-Napoca est une ville vibrante et jeune grace à ses multiples universités, festivals d’art et de musique et ses restaurants et bars dynamiques.. quoique nous avions juste pu apprecié des restaurants avec une terrasse. Notre visite s’étant faite bien avant la complète ré-ouverture de ses restaurants en Roumanie le 1er septembre 2020.

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