Alba Iulia Tourist Guide

Alba Carolina – The Living Fortress

About Alba Iulia

It is located in the center of the country. The city with a medieval air on the Mures river has less than 70,000 inhabitants, being one of the sparsely populated county capitals compared to others. Alba Iulia stretches over 100 square kilometers and is located at an altitude of 270 meters above sea level. Bucharest is 340 km away. Alba Iulia is called Gyulafehervar in Hungarian and Weissenburg in German.

Coordinates: 46°04′17″N 23°34′23″E


Welcome to Alba Iulia!

I visited the citadel for the first time several years ago before it was renovated and I enjoyed every step I took in the citadel, but it lacked its brilliance. A remarkable renovation project of the fortress followed and now it is brilliant. I have visited it several times since then, including in the centenary year 2018. Alba Carolina is a living, populated fortress, with streets, institutions, university, cafes, terraces or restaurants. I especially appreciate that everything you meet here is under the Visit Alba brand hat, being harmoniously integrated into the landscape. The Alba Carolina fortress was built in the 18th century according to the project of the Italian architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, having 3 lines of fortification, 7 bastions, 6 ravelins, a counterguard, all separated by the defense moat that surrounds the perimeter of the fortress. I saw a lot of guided foreign tourists even in the evening, in autumn, which made me happy and I can convincingly say that Alba Iulia is well integrated in the Romanian tourist projects and excellently promoted.


5th millennium BC – documents attest to the existence of prehistoric settlements in the area

1st millennium BC – in the Iron Age there was an earth fortress 4 km NE, at Teleac,

the Dacians settled here in Apoulon

the Romans then built a castle and two towns: Colonia Aurelia Apulensis and Colonia Nova Apulensis

10th century – Voivode Iula (Gyula) founded a basilica with a Greek bishop in Gyulafehervar (Alba Iulia)

during the integration into the Kingdom of Hungary, an episcopal residence was established here

year 1599 – Mihai Viteazul entered Alba Iulia where he achieved the political union of Transylvania, Moldavia and Romania

16th – 17th centuries – it was the capital of the principality of Transylvania, with internal autonomy but paying tribute to the Turks

December 1, 1918 – the proclamation of the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Crisana and Maramures with Romania through the Alba Iulia declaration

year 1922 – the coronation of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria took place at the Coronation Cathedral

Route Map

(click on objectives for extended version)

1. Start with the Tourist Info Center

located right in the city. Address: Aleea Sfântul Capistrano 28, Alba Iulia. Schedule: May 1 – September 30: Monday-Sunday: 09:00-19:00; October 1 – April 30: Monday-Sunday:


Tourist Information Center

2. Alessandria Square

We start the walk at Alessandria Square, located on one of the main arteries of the city, at the end of the bld. Ferdinand I. In this small square is placed the monumental Lupa Capitolina (Statue of the Wolf), which was donated by the Italian city of Alessandria to Alba Iulia as a sign of the Latin cultural heritage.

Lupa Capitolina

3. Gate I

We then head 200 m along Mihai Viteazul St. right to Gate I, which is in the eastern part of the citadel. On both sides, there are bas-reliefs with scenes from Greek mythology, and at the top is the statue of the god Mars and the goddess Venus, flanked by bombards.

Gate I

4. Gate II

On a wide path on the slope, paved with cubic stone, we climb another 100 m to the Second Gate. This was partially demolished so that the Horia, Closca and Crisan obelisk located in its immediate vicinity could be built, from where we have a wonderful perspective for pictures. The obelisk was erected in memory of the martyrs of the 18th century uprising.

Gate II


5. Gate III

In front of the obelisk, we turn half right to go over a bridge that crosses the defensive ditch towards the IIIrd Gate, the most spectacular of the citadel’s gates, located 100 m from the IInd Gate. In its upper part we see the equestrian statue of the Habsburg emperor Carol VI, during which the Alba fortress was built. On a previous visit, here on the bridge in front of the gate, the changing of the guard ceremony took place. Above the gate, under the plinth of the equestrian statue, the Cell of Horea is symbolically arranged. We are inside the fortress. A bronze guard guarantees us that we are safe.

me in Alba Carolina Citadel

Gate III

Gate III


6. Gate of the Mint / Route of the 3 fortifications

Opposite the main street of the fortress, which is called Mihai Viteazul, and which crosses the fortress, on the left and parallel to it is Militari Street, where the Porta Monetariei is located, which is part of the Route of the 3 Fortifications. It includes elements from 3 different historical periods: the South Gate of the Roman fort, the medieval chambers, the Mint Gate of the Principality of Transylvania, the Bastion of the Saxons (of the medieval fortress), the artillery platform of the modern fortification, the military camp and the equestrian center. The Gate of the Mint is built on the site where there was a church and a monastery, documented in 1294, both belonging to the Benedictine nuns. At the mint here, coins were minted between the 17th and 19th centuries.

We return to the main artery of the fortress. The ladies and not only are invited by the gentleman to rest on the benches in front of the Cetatii Square, to our right, where there are several objectives, which we will return to on our return. Now I only picture this bell.

Gate of the Mint

The route of the 3 Fortifications

Citadel Square

Citadel Square

Citadel Square

7. The statue of Michael the Brave

We advance on the most trafficked street of the citadel and on the left, 300 m from the Third Gate, we admire the equestrian statue of Mihai the Brave, the work of the sculptor Oscar Han, inaugurated on the celebration of the semicentenary of the union.

The statue of Michael the Brave

8. Fourth gate

Although there are still major objectives on both sides, after 200 m going forward we exit through the Fourth Gate, located on the western flank of the fortress and decorated with baroque elements. This, like the third one, is provided on the outside with a mobile (swinging) wooden bridge, located above the defense ditch. If we still left the fortress, let’s point out that in this part is the statue of Avram Iancu, 300 m from the last gate, slightly to the left of the park in front of us.

Gate IV

Gate IV

The walls of the fortress

The statue of Avram Iancu

9. Orthodox Cathedral of the Coronation

We pass by the Tourist Information Center and start the visit in reverse, from west to east, but with more details on both sides of Mihai Viteazul street. We climb again to the level of the bridges and face the 2 great cathedrals in front of our eyes. The one on the left is the Orthodox Cathedral of the Coronation, built in 1921-1922, where King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria were crowned, whose busts are posted at the entrance, outside. In the nave are the portraits of the founders, and in the pronaos is that of Mihai the Brave. It is 300 m from the info center.

Coronation Cathedral

Bust of King Ferdinand I

Bust of Queen Mary

Coronation Cathedral

10. Museikon

We leave the cathedral courtyard where we entered, turn right again next to the fortress wall on Unirii street, where after 100 m on the left side in a historical monument building, but not restored, is the Museikon, where the most valuable collection is housed Romanian icons from Transylvania, old books and other cult objects.


11. The Roman Catholic Cathedral “St. Michael”

I turned in front of the IVth Gate, crossed the bridge again and immediately after passing into the citadel we have on the right the tall Roman Catholic Cathedral “St. Michael”. 200 m from the museum. The Roman Catholic Cathedral combines elements of the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles in its architecture. Inside are the funerary monuments of the Hunedoara family.

To its right is the Episcopal Palace, the former residence of Queen Isabella and her son, John Sigismund, Prince of Transylvania. Today it houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

On the main street I admire other beautiful bronze statues. For those who want to buy a souvenir or have something to eat or drink on the go or sitting down, they can do it at the booths set up and located along the street or at the small terraces, all under the umbrella of a single brand “Visit Alba Iulia “. Very well designed and applied. Congratulations!

Roman Catholic Cathedral

Episcopal Palace

Episcopal Palace


12. The Princely Palace

On the right, behind the cathedral we see the statue of Michael the Brave and behind it the Princely Palace, under renovation at the time of my visit. It was the residence of the princes of Transylvania in the 16th – 17th centuries, and in 1599 it was also the residence of Voivode Mihai Viteazul. 100 m from the cathedral.

The Princely Palace

13. Union Museum / Union Hall

Now we head perpendicularly on the main artery towards the direction of Mihai the Brave and enter Muzeului Street, which separates 2 important buildings: the Union Museum, on the left, and the Union Hall, on the right, facing each other, 100 m from the statue. The National Museum of the Union, built in the 19th century, before its current destination was the residence for Habsburg officers and their families. Sala Unirii was in the past a military casino for Austro-Hungarian officers. On December 1, 1918, the act of union of Transylvania with Romania was decided and signed here. On the western wall there are marble slabs with the texts of the Union Resolution and the Law for the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Crisana, Satmar and Maramures with Romania.

Union Museum

Union Hall

14. Principia Museum / Citadel Square / Custozza Monument / Losenau Monument

If we bypass the building that houses the Hall of the Union, 100 m to the side and behind it is the Principia Museum, which presents the largest part of the Roman fort, the building of the command of the XIIIth Legion Gemina, the place where the treasury and the banners were kept. Thus, after 200 m, we arrived at the Citadel Square.

In the center of the square is the Custozza Monument erected in memory of the soldiers of the 50th Infantry Regiment killed in the battle of Custozza (Italy) in the 7-week War between the Prussians allied with the Italians and the Austrians.

On one side of the square is the Losenau Monument built in memory of the Austrian colonel Ludovic von Losenau, the leader of the Habsburg troops, who died during the Revolution of 1848 in the battle against the Hungarians.

Principia Museum

Principia Museum

The Custozza Monument

Losenau monument

15. Apor Palace

On the other side of the square is the University 1 Decembrie 1918. From the square we continue to the roundabout next to the university, going behind it on Gabriel Bethlen street. After 300 m on the right side, entering the courtyard, we admire the Apor Palace, built in the Baroque style. It bears the name of Count Stefan Apor, the treasurer of Transylvania. Today it is the host of the university rectorate.

Apor Castle

16. The Batthyaneum Library

ust 100 m ahead on the same street is the Batthyaneum Library, a museum of medieval and pre-modern books. It has a special visiting regime.


17. Cetate Park (Central)

To the left we reach the western part of the citadel again, where we once again mark the 2 magnificent cathedrals and after 500 meters I invite you to enjoy the alleys of the small Cetate Park. In the middle of it is a fountain, on the alleys there are benches, which drink during a well-deserved break. Between the fountain and the fortress is the Union Monument.

Citadel Park

Citadel Park

Union Monument

18. Other pictures

At the end of the citadel shift, I hurry because I want to capture some evening shots in the citadel. Let me also remind you that you can also surround the fortress through the defense ditch, beautifully laid out and suitable for cycling. 2-seater bicycles can be rented in the summer from Cetatii Square. Beautiful green spaces are arranged in which the emblems of the Visit Alba brand are framed. You will take a walk under the bridges of the 3rd and 4th gates, but you will also be able to pass by the 5th, 6th and 7th gates of the Alba Carolina Fortress.

Alba Carolina Fortress

Alba Carolina Fortress

Alba Carolina Fortress

Alba Carolina Fortress

Visit Alba Iulia


It is also worth a separate visit on the Route of the 3 fortifications, where you will learn more about the Vauban-type fortified construction of the Alba Carolina Fortress.

Visit Alba Iulia! All the best!