Alba Iulia

One of the most historically important cities in Romania.

Alba Iulia is a city with a high degree of national importance, having hosted a great number of historical events. Also known as “The Other Capital”, this is where the document which recognised the union between Transylvania and Romania was signed on December 1, 1918. It is here that the “Great Union” took place, the unanimous desideratum of the country’s inhabitants and the motivation behind the Romanians’ political and military actions. In addition to the rich historical baggage, Alba Iulia delights its tourists with the architectural jewels it hosts. 

History &


Alba Iulia is one of the first settlements in the country that, during the Roman occupation, carried the name of “Apulum”. During that period, it was the biggest economic and military centre in the area. The Tatar invasions of 1241 destroyed the city, but it was rebuilt when the city became the capital of the Principality of Transylvania between 1542 and 1690. Later, the city becomes a tributary of the Ottoman Empire.

Alba Iulia was the first capital of the three Romanian Provinces (Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldova), rank granted by Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazu) who laid the foundations of an ideal for which Romanians fought over time. It is here that the Great National Assembly, which was the basis for the realisation of the unitary state, took place on December 1, 1918. This was the moment when the action started three centuries before by Michael the Brave materialised.

In 1928, a general assembly was organised in Alba where over 100,000 citizens were chanting against the government. So, the city has, over time, witnessed effervescent political, historical and social events of hardship.


The city is situated in the central-Western part of the country and is a municipality in the Alba County. The city is situated along the middle course of the Mureș river in the centre of the Transylvanian basin. The surrounding area is made up of three geographical units: the Apuseni Mountains (in the North-West), the Transylvanian Alps (in the South) and the Transylvanian Basin (in the East). The neighbouring counties are: Cluj – in the North, Mureș and Sibiu – in the East, Vâlcea – in the South and Arad and Hunedoara – in the West.

Did you know...?


  • That the Alba Carolina Citadel is the biggest citadel in Romania?


  • That during the restoration period of the Citadel, a tooth fragment from a prehistoric mammoth was found and is today exhibited in the National Museum of the Union? 


  • That the assembly of December 1, 1918 gathered more that 100,000 participants? At that time, Alba Iulia had only 10,000 inhabitants. 


  • That in July 2015 the Alba Carolina Citadel was the chosen filming location for a Bollywood film?


  • That it is the only municipality in the country where the parking places in the city centre are free?


Let's travel and discover some

Tourist attractions in Alba Iulia

Cetatea Alba Carolina (RO)

The Alba Carolina Citadel

Alba Carolina Fortress – one of the most representative buildings in Europe of the Vauban style and the largest fortress in Romania. This would be the summary if we were to define the fortress as succinctly as possible. However, the significance of this place is of unparalleled importance. It is the site where the Great Union of December 1, 1918 was accomplished and has played an extremely important political role throughout Romania’s history.

It was built in the early 18th century (1715-1738) on an area of ​​110 hectares and designed with 3 rows of defense walls (currently occupying approximately 70 hectares). It has 7 bastions and is structured in the shape of a star (Vauban style – named after the French marshal Vauban who designed this defense system).

Alba Carolina, Alba Iulia, Romania
Catedrala Sfântul Mihail (RO)

The Saint Michael Cathedral

St. Michael’s Cathedral – located within the fortress, it represents a symbol of the Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles in Transylvania.

It is often compared to Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris due to its age: over 1,000 years. Like many churches with a rich history, St. Michael’s Cathedral in Alba Iulia was built over several periods, with each stage replacing a smaller previous construction (other churches). It holds another record for Romania: being the longest, with a length of 93 meters.

Catedrala Sfantul Mihail din Alba Iulia

The Horea, Cloșca and Crișan Obelisk

The Obelisk of Horea, Cloșca, and Crișan – is dedicated to the leaders of the 1784-1785 uprising, through which the grievances of the peasants in Transylvania regarding feudal oppression were expressed.

This historical monument is located facing Gate III, right where in 1784 Horea and Cloșca were imprisoned. The construction stands at a height of 28 meters and depicts the three martyrs sculpted in bas-relief, standing upright in front of the people and the injustices of that period.

Obeliscul lui Horea, Cloșca și Crisan - Alba Iulia

The Batthynaeum Library

The Batthyaneum Library – is a branch of the National Library of Romania and houses over 50,000 books. It is an important cultural center both nationally and globally. Established on July 31, 1798, at the initiative of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Transylvania, Ignațiu Batthyany.

The main treasure of the library consists of over 18,000 bibliographic units (prints and manuscripts) dating from the 9th century onwards.

Biblioteca Batthyaneum din Alba Iulia
Catedrala Reîntregirii Neamului (RO)

The Reunification Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Reunification of the Nation, also known as the Coronation Cathedral, because it hosted the coronation ceremony of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria.

It was built in the period immediately following the Great Union, between 1921 and 1922, with the main purpose of restoring the Metropolitan Church erected by Mihai Viteazul but which, due to Habsburg rule, was destroyed in 1714. Architecturally, it is a reproduction of the Domnești Church in Târgoviște.

Catedrala Sfanta Treime din Alba Iulia
Muzeul Național al Unirii (RO)

The National Museum of the Union

The National Museum of the Union – includes over 200,000 heritage objects and is divided into three sections: history, archaeology, and ethnography.

It was established in 1887 (the same year the Society of History, Archaeology, and Natural Sciences was founded), initially covering a small collection of objects. Over time, its collection expanded, becoming the home of the six volumes of the Great Union, considered some of the most important historical documents in Romania.

In 1968, it was relocated to the “Babilon” building (following its restoration), which became the permanent location of the Museum of the Union.

Muzeul Unirii - Alba Iulia, Romania
Internal and external links

Transport to/from Alba Iulia

The nearest airport to Alba Iulia is located in Sibiu, 76 km away. 


In case you want to travel from Bucharest to Alba Iulia by train, then you should know that the journey takes around 8 hours. From the train station in Alba Iulia you can find daily direct connections to the majority of the cities and places in the country. 


If you are looking for a quicker alternative, you can opt to travel by bus or minibus. Here you can find all the information you might need: the location of the bus stations and the stops, the arrival and departure schedules and the destinations.


In case you want to go from Bucharest to Alba Iulia by car the recommended route is: (E81)  Bucharest – Pitești – Râmnicu Vâlcea – Sibiu – Alba Iulia.

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