About Alba Iulia Fortress
The Alba Iulia Fortress is a massive 18th century fortification which forms the heart of the Romanian city of Alba Iulia. Alba Iulia itself is one of the oldest cities in Romania, with a history stretching far back into antiquity. During Roman times it was an important regional centre known as Apulum.
History of Alba Iulia Fortress
One of the biggest fortifications of its kind in Europe, the fortress – sometimes called the Alba Iulia Citadel or the Alba Carolina Fortress – protects the city centre. Inside are some of the most important civic buildings of Alba Iulia, including the cathedral, university, and the remains of the Roman legionary camp.
Built from around 1716 to 1735, the Alba Iulia Fortress was part of a fortification system created by Prince Eugene of Savoy designed to ensure the defences of the newly conquered provinces of the Hapsburg Empire. It thus served as a military centre between the 18th and 19th centuries.
Over 20,000 Romanian peasants as well as several Italian workers and artisans worked on the construction of the fortress. The walls measure three metres at the base and are 1.2m wide at the top. In total these massive battlements have a perimeter of 12km, and form a seven-point star shape with seven bastions and six imposing gates, which are in themselves impressive architectural sites to explore.
Alba Iulia Fortress Today
Today, The Alba Iulia Fortress is one of the main attractions in the area. One of the main attractions of the site is the Guard Change of the Citadel, which takes place at midday every day during tourist season, and sometimes twice a day at weekends. The guards are dressed in uniforms specific to the 18th century.
Every year, on December 1st, the Romanian people celebrate their National Day at the Alba Iulia Fortress. The fortress is very accessible from Cluj-Napoca, and you can explore it through different tours and day trips.
Getting to Alba Iulia Fortress
From the centre of Alba Iulia, the fortress is a scenic 18 minute walk via Strada Ardealului/DN1 and Str. Mihai Viteazul. By car, it is a 5 minute drive via the Calea Moților/DN74, Strada Aurel Vlaicu and Strada Unirii roads. There are a number of public transport options which stop at the Platoul romanilor (Platou) road.
Explore the impressive history of Romania in our guide to the 10 best historic sites to see, including the supposed home of Dracula at Bran Castle and the imposing Alba Iulia Fortress.