Alba Iulia is situated in the heart of Romania and is the spiritual capital of the country.
Alba Iulia is the site of the ancient Apulum, founded by the Romans in the 2nd cent. A.D., and destroyed by Tatars in 1241. From 1599 to 1601, Alba Iulia was the capital of the united principalities of Walachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. It was the site of the proclamation of Transylvania’s unification with Romania
(1 December 1918) and of the coronation of King Ferdinand in 1922.
Alba Iulia municipality is situated in a magnificent territory, and the traveler is warmly welcomed here. The tourist potential of the area is mirrored by the numerous traces of millenary history, by its architecture and art, by the variety and beauty of nature.
The city’s Latin name in the 10th century was Civitatem Albam in Ereel. The first part of the name “Alba” denotes the ruins of the Roman fort Apulum (the pre-feudal white citadel). Later in the Middle Ages, different names occurred as Frank episcopus Belleggradienesis in 1071, Albae Civitatis in 1134, Belegrada in 1153, Albensis Ultrasilvanus in 1177, eccl. Micahelis in 1199, Albe Transilvane in 1200, Albe Transsilvane in 1201, castrum Albens in 1206,canonicis Albensibus in 1213, Albensis eccl. Transsylvane in 1219, B. Michaelis arch. Transsilv. in 1231, Alba… Civitas in 1242, Alba sedes eptus in 1245, Alba Jula in 1291, Feyrvar in 1572, Feyérvár in 1574, Weissenburg in 1576, Belugrad in 1579, Gyula Feyervár in 1619,Gyula Fehérvár in 1690, and Karlsburg in 1715.
The main historical area of Alba Iulia is the Upper Town region, developed by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor in honour of whom the Habsburgs renamed the city Karlsburg. The fortress, with seven bastions in a stellar shape, was constructed between 1716 and 1735 by two Swiss fortification architects. The first was Giovanni Morandi Visconti, who built two old Italian-style bastions. The second was Nicolaus Doxat de Demoret—nicknamed “Austrian Vauban“. After 1720, the two architects radically transformed the medieval fortress shaped by the former Roman castrum into a seven-bastion baroque fortress, developing Menno van Coehorn’s new Dutch system, of which the fortress of Alba Iulia is the best preserved example.
Inside the fortress are The Union Hall with the National Honour Gallery, The National History Museum of Unification, the Princely Palace (Voivodal Palace), the Orthodox cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral, the Batthyaneum Library, the Roman Catholic bishop’s palace, the Apor Palace, and the University of Alba Iulia. Built in the 10th and 11th centuries, the Roman Catholic cathedral is the most representative building in the medieval Romanic style in Transylvania, and is considered to be an important monument of early Transylvanian medieval architecture. The tombs of John Hunyadi and Isabella Jagiełło—Queen of Hungary are located there.