Alba Iulia (Romanian pronunciation: [ˌalba ˈjuli.a] ; German: Karlsburg or Carlsburg, formerly Weißenburg; Hungarian: Gyulafehérvár; Latin: Apulum) is a city that serves as the seat of Alba County in the west-central part of Romania. Located on the river Mureș in the historical region of Transylvania, it has a population of 63,536 (as of 2011).

During ancient times, the site was the location of the Roman camp Apulum. Since the High Middle Ages, the city has been the seat of Transylvania's Roman Catholic diocese. Between 1526 and 1570 it was the capital of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom from which the Principality of Transylvania emerged by the Treaty of Speyer in 1570 and it was the capital of the Principality of Transylvania until 1711. At one point it also was a center of the Eastern Orthodox Metropoli...Read more

Alba Iulia (Romanian pronunciation: [ˌalba ˈjuli.a] ; German: Karlsburg or Carlsburg, formerly Weißenburg; Hungarian: Gyulafehérvár; Latin: Apulum) is a city that serves as the seat of Alba County in the west-central part of Romania. Located on the river Mureș in the historical region of Transylvania, it has a population of 63,536 (as of 2011).

During ancient times, the site was the location of the Roman camp Apulum. Since the High Middle Ages, the city has been the seat of Transylvania's Roman Catholic diocese. Between 1526 and 1570 it was the capital of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom from which the Principality of Transylvania emerged by the Treaty of Speyer in 1570 and it was the capital of the Principality of Transylvania until 1711. At one point it also was a center of the Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan of Transylvania with suffragan to Vad diocese. On 1 December 1918, the Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared in Alba Iulia, and the Romania's King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie were crowned in the Alba Iulia Orthodox Cathedral, in 1922.

Alba Iulia is historically important for Romanians, Hungarians, and Transylvanian Saxons. In December 1918, Alba Iulia was officially declared Capital of the Great Union of Romania.

The city administers four villages: Bărăbanț (Borbánd), Micești (Ompolykisfalud), Oarda (Alsóváradja), and Pâclișa (Poklos).

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Ancient times  "Porta Principalis Dextra" of the castrum Apulum

The modern city is located near the site of the important Dacian political, economic and social centre of Apulon, which was mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy and believed by some archaeologists to be the Dacian fortifications on top of Piatra Craivii.[1] After Dacia became a province of the Roman Empire, the capital of Dacia Apulensis was established here, and the city was known as Apulum.[2] Apulum was the largest urban centre in Roman Dacia and was the seat of the XIII Gemina Legion. Apulum is the largest castrum located in Romania, occupying 37.5 hectares (93 acres) (750 x 500 m2).

Middle Ages  Defense wall of Alba Carolina citadel.

The Gesta Hungarorum mentions a Hungarian regent named Jula or Geula—the maternal grandfather of Stephen I of Hungary and lord [regent] of Transylvania—who built the capital of his dukedom there during the 10th century. Geula was baptized in the Byzantine Empire and built around 950 in Alba Iulia the first church of Transylvania. The ruins of a church were discovered in 2011. According to Ioan Aurel Pop and other historians, here lived Hierotheos the first bishop of Transylvania,[3][4] who accompanied Geula back to Hungary after Geula had been baptized in Constantinople around 950.[5]

After Stephen I adopted Catholicism, and the establishment of the Catholic Transylvanian bishopric, recent archaeological discoveries suggest that the first cathedral was built in the 11th century or possibly before. The present Catholic cathedral was built in the 12th or 13th century. In 1442, John Hunyadi, Voivode of Transylvania, used the citadel to prepare for a major battle against the Ottoman Turks. The cathedral was enlarged during his reign and he was entombed there after his death.

Ottoman and Habsburg period

In 1542 — after the partition of the Kingdom of Hungary — Alba Iulia became the capital of Transylvania and some of its neighboring territories to the west (later known as Partium[6]), the autonomous Principality of Transylvania, and remained so until 1690. The Treaty of Weissenburg was signed in the town in 1551. During the reign of Prince Gábor Bethlen, the city reached a high point in its cultural history with the establishment of an academy. The former Ottoman Turkish equivalent was Erdel Belgradı or Belgrad-ı Erdel ("Belgrade of Transylvania" in English) where Erdel (Erdély) was added to prevent confusion with Belgrat and Arnavut Belgradı ("Albanian Belgrade" in Turkish, early name of Berat during Ottoman rule).

In 29 November 1599, Michael the Brave, Voivode of Wallachia, entered Alba Iulia following his victory in the Battle of Șelimbăr and became Voivode of Transylvania. In 1600 he gained control of Moldavia, uniting the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania under his rule, which lasted for a year and a half until he was murdered in 1601, by General Giorgio Basta's agents.

Alba Iulia became part of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1690. The fortress Alba Carolina, designed by architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, was built between 1716 and 1735, at the behest of Emperor Charles VI of Habsburg. The leaders of the Transylvanian peasant rebellion were executed in Alba Iulia in January 1785. Important milestones in the city's development include the creation of the Batthyaneum Library in 1780 and the arrival of the railway in the 19th century.

The Austrian Guard of the Citadel 
The Austrian Guard of the Citadel
Alba Iulia on a 1556 map 
Alba Iulia on a 1556 map
The Union Museum 
The Union Museum
20th and 21st centuries

At the end of World War I, representatives of the Romanian population of Transylvania, the National Assembly of Romanians of Transylvania and Hungary, gathered in Alba Iulia on 1 December 1918 during the so-called Great National Assembly of Alba Iulia to proclaim the Union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. The representatives of the Transylvanian Saxons decided to join this declaration on 8 January 1919.

In 1922, Ferdinand I of Romania was symbolically crowned King of Romania in Alba Iulia. In October 2012, at the 90th anniversary of King Ferdinand's coronation, his great-granddaughter Princess Margarita of Romania visited Alba Iulia to commemorate the event.

Jewish history  Alba Iulia synagogue

The Jewish community, which was the first in Transylvania, was established in the mid-16th century. In the 17th century, a Sephardic community was founded. The 18th century saw an influx of Ashkenazim from Hungary and Wallachia, as well as Sephardim. From 1754 to 1868, the town rabbi was the chief rabbi of Transylvania. A synagogue was built in 1840, with a Sephardic one following in 1874. Most local Jews in the 19th century worked in viticulture and bought land for growing vines; in the 20th century, they were mainly artisans. By 1930, the 1558 Jews of Alba Iulia represented nearly 13% of the town's population.[7]

In October 1940, during the National Legionary State, the Iron Guard terrorized local Jews. The following year, the Ion Antonescu regime confiscated Jewish property and sent the men to forced labor. After World War II, the community was re-established but soon dwindled as Jews emigrated.[7]

^ "Alba Iulia Online". Apulum.ro. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013. ^ "Apulum @Livius.orgl". Archived from the original on 26 October 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2020. ^ Ioan Aurel Pop, Jan Nicolae, Ovidiu Panaite, Sfântul Ierotei, episcop de Alba Iulia (sec. X). Edit. Reîntregirea, 2010, 335 p ^ I. Strajan, Adevărul istoric a învins la Alba Iulia, Despre prima organizare creştină din Transylvania – sec. X, "DACOROMANIA" nr.55/2011 ^ Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250. Cambridge University Press. pp. 189-189. ISBN 978-0-521-89452-4. ^ Keul, István (2009). Early modern religious communities in East-Central Europe: Ethnic Diversity, Denominational Plurality, and Corporative Politics in the Principality of Transylvania (1526–1691). Leiden: Brill Publishers. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-90-04-17652-2. ^ a b Shmuel Spector, Geoffrey Wigoder (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust: A—J, p. 25. New York University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8147-9376-2
Photographies by:
Kiki Vasilescu - CC BY-SA 4.0
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