Transylvania Beyond
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Alba Iulia
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Alba Iulia

©Gyulafehérvár / Alba Iulia (copyright: creative commons)

Located in the hilly heartland of Romania, Alba Iulia is one of the oldest cities in the country. The settlement is surrounded by the scenic Apuseni Mountains in the northwest and the Transylvanian Plateau in the east.
Alba Iulia is a place of a great historical importance for the Romanian people, and is home to a well-preserved medieval citadel and other historical landmarks.



One of the oldest towns in Romania – inhabited since 106BC, first documented in 1097.

A place of many names – known as Apulum by the Romans, Balgrad, Albae Civitatis, Feyrvar, Weissenburg (all meaning “White City”) in the Middle Ages.

The name of the city comes from the white walls of the old Roman castrum.

Population – starting with the 16th century, the medieval town hosted the seat of the Principality of Transylvania. Today, the city of around 63.000 inhabitants is the seat of Alba County.

The architecture of Alba Iulia – The Citadel of Alba Iulia, built between 1716 and 1735, was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, who inspired himself from ancient mythology. The six gates of the Citadel and its imposing ramparts are great examples of the Vauban military architectural system. The design of the Citadel, an eloquent exemplification of the baroque style, influenced the architecture of the entire Transylvanian area.

The citadel of Alba Iulia is the largest in Romania and southeastern Europe.


Must see

The Alba Carolina citadel – built between 1716 and 1735, and designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Visconti in the Baroque style.

Historical landmarks – the Apor Palace, the Batthyaneum Library, the National History Museum of the Unification, the Princely Palace.

The two cathedrals – the Orthodox Cathedral and the Catholic Cathedral.

The changing of the guards – every day at noon, at the 3rd and 4th gates of the citadel. On weekends, cannon salvos are fired.


For Families

The city of Alba Iulia and the surrounding areas offer tourists a variety of
activities and places to visit. The biggest landmark within the city is, naturally, the medieval Citadel, with its astonishing architecture and charming old streets.

Built in the 15th century, the Princely Palace was for a brief period the residence of Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave), who achieved the first political unification of the Romanian principalities, in the 1600s.

For Explorers

The three fortifications route – explore the three fortifications built in the same area in three different historical eras – the Roman castrum, the medieval Balgrad citadel, and the Alba Carolina citadel.

The medieval citadel of Sebes – located 14 kilometers from Alba Iulia, Sebes was an important Saxon settlement. The ruins of the town’s medieval citadel can be visited.

Scarisoara cave – one of the largest ice caves in Romania, a wonder of the Apuseni Mountains.


In the Area

History buffs can take a day trip to see the picturesque Corvinești Castle in Hunedoara, located 53 miles southeast of Alba Iulia.

Visitors eager to learn more about the area can also take a short trip to the nearby medieval town of Sebeș, located about 15 km (9 miles) southeast of Alba Iulia.

You can also include Alba Iulia in a tour of Transylvania’s beautiful old cities, such as Brașov, Sighișoara, and Sibiu. If you’re visiting Bucharest (380 km south east), a trip to Transylvania, including Alba Iulia, should not be missed.


Practical info

How to get there: There are multiple ways to reach Alba Iulia. You can choose to fly to nearby Cluj Napoca and then reach the town by rental car, bus, or train.