Alba Carolina Citadel – a file of history

Eva Poteaca | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Alba Carolina Citadel, located in the medieval town of Alba Iulia, is a fortress with bastions of the Vauban-type. It belongs to the group of fortifications named after the French marshal, in a form of a heptagon and using wedge-shaped bastions and entire surveillance devices. This citadel shows us a file of history, as it served as a strategic fortification defense to the Habsburg Empire against the Ottoman Empire. It also is a sign of the Habsburgs power being locally strengthening, and was planed to be the biggest fortification after corresponding fortifications in Vienna and Budapest.

Not only a place of the Great Union

Alba Iulia was the place where the Great Union, the event that united all the Romanian territories, took place. It is a citadel of 70 hectares, consiting of two older fortresses: one built during the Roman Empire and the other from the Middle Ages. The first one, built by the Romans and served as a camp for the XIII-a Gemina Legion, had a quadrilateral shape. In the 18th century, the citadel received its form from today - a stellar form.

The Prince Eugen of Savoy initiated the construction and approved the construction plans in 1714. The plan was then sent from Vienna to Transylvania, and the main works were done between 1715 and 1738. For the sculptures, the gates of the fortress and the bastions was brought by the Viennese team, while other parts were executed by Italian workers and craftsmen.

The initial project was not entirely realized because the Habsburgs financial resources were pressing needed closer to the Ottoman Empire border, at the time of the financial retreat, only 10 percent of the initial project being executed. The construction was resumed, and often interrupted by political events, and carried out until the end of the 19th century.

The main body of the fortress is in the form of an irregular pentagon, with seven bastions giving it a typical stellar image of such systems. The citadel was built in a Baroque style. This can be best seen in the construction of the six gates (four of them still standing). A multitude of monuments is placed in the citadel. One should see the Statue of Mihai Viteazul, The Obelisk of Horea, Cloșca and Crișan, and the series of sculptures representing Romanian leaders and personalities.

The Cathedral of Coronation

The Cathedral of Coronation, also known also as the Cathedral of Reunification, is an Orthodox church built in the period following the Great Union, namely between 1921-1922. The Orthodox Cathedral was built with the main purpose of rebuilding the Metropolitan Church that Mihai Viteazu built, but which was destroyed in 1714 due to the Habsburgs rule. Mihai Viteazu was the first ruler, under which for a short period, Wallachia, Moladavia, and Transylvania were united at the beginning of the 17th century.

The Alba Carolina Citadel was restored between 2009 and 2014 and became an important tourist attraction. The citadel itself is a file of history.

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