Visit Cluj-Napoca – The Heart of Transylvania, Romania

Best of Cluj-Napoca

„Alexandru Borza” Botanical Garden

„Alexandru Borza” Botanical Garden„Alexandru Borza” Botanical Garden (42 Republicii Street) – Being a national museum, the garden was founded in 1872, having an initial surface of 4.3 ha. Thanks to prof. A. Richter, the surface has reached 9.6 ha. In 1920, professor Alexandru Borza elaborated the re-organization plan of a new botanical garden, whose arrangement was carried out from 1920 to 1930. Nowadays, the garden has a surface of 14 ha, a level difference of 20 m and is divided into various sectors, sheltering 11.000 exhibits: the ornamental sector ( The Mediteranean Garden, Rosarium, The Japanese Garden), the phyto-geographic sector (the plants are arranged according to their natural asociations – The Roman Garden), the systematic sector (the plants are organized by phylo-genetic principles), the economic and medical sector, the sector of rare and endemic plants of Romania`s flora. The two groups of greenhouses, having a surface of 3500 m2, with tropical plants of great scientific and utilitarian interest, are remarkable. In the precincts of the Botanical Garden functions the Botanical Institute, whith its two components: the Botanical Museum (6 910 botanical pieces, representing exotic and indigenous plant exhibits) and the Herbarium (660 000 herbarium sheets of dried plants – arranged in special lockers). Entrance price: 5 lei/person. There is free admittance for the students and employees of Babes-Bolyai University, on showing the student note book and job identification card. The pupils and students outside of the Babes-Bolyai University benefit by a 50% price cut.

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„Simion Barnutiu” Central Park

„Simion Barnutiu” Central ParkThe Central Park. Creating the Central Park had been one of the first initiatives of urban remodeling of the city at the end of the 19th century. Its purpose had been the creation of a leisure spot in the close proximity of the city center. The initial name of the area field was ants’ grove situated on the bank of the river Somes. At the beginning of the 19th century this spot was visited by all citizens of Cluj, the furrier János Meleg provided the public with refreshments. In 1827, the Women’s Charity Organization will rent the grove with the intention to create a “place suitable for longer strolls” and a beer garden based on a contract of 12 months. This contract would also determine the municipality to initiate and sponsor some of the works necessary to drain and consolidate the land that had been a swampy area frequently flooded by the river. In the year 1833, together with the return of the Gubernium a decision will be made on how to spend the gathered money on the development of the park. On this occasion they will establish and name the members of the Promenade comity, a council made up of important members of the urban community; they will also employ the gardener József Schütz to plant, clean and maintain the park. The park itself had been originally founded on the 22nd April 1838 and after two years the engineer Sámuel Hermann was entrusted with the design of the park. They have exploited the irregular shape of the land by creating a triple alley functioning as a main axis of the entire composition. One of the provisions of the project had been to take into consideration the height of the field. By demolishing of the city’s medieval walls they obtained enough material to drain the whole area. Huge wholes had been dug and filled with organic material in order to plant the trees of the park. The organic material, was collected from the area of today’ Mihai Viteazul, Avram Iancu and Stefan cel Mare squares, all of these spots previously served as location for the animal fairs of the age. The above mentioned comity functioned between the years 1860 and 1866. The project of the lake had been overtaken by the architect Anton Kagerbauer, the works started in the year 1871. The following important stage in the development of the park had been triggered by the Hungarian millennium celebrations. In 1897 in the close vicinity of the park different pavilions will be erected that reverberate the taste of the age in park design: the Skating Pavilion, the Chios, the fountain, the brass band pavilion all of which were designed by Lajos Pákei, the famous architect from Cluj. The last three pavilions had been part of the Central Garden ensemble, rendered on an axis similar to the famous Sanssouci Palace of Potsdam. The adjacent buildings had been completed in 1874 when they have finished the overly decorated Summer Theatre in the close proximity of the building. The latter edifice had been actually transformed by the architect Henrik Zimmermann from a wooden warehouse used for storage into a venue for the summer seasonal performances of the theatre based on M. Kogălniceanu street. This had been a very bold step as a wooden building was, at the time, considered unacceptable from a functional and architectural point of view, and it will be replace by a modern edifice built between 1090-1910 and designed by the modernist architects from Budapest Géza Markus and Frigyes Spiegel. Throughout the 20th century the park will benefit from many modern changes as the introduction of public illumination on the main alley and the expansion of the lake. The latter alteration will bring about the isolation of the skating pavilion on a little island in the center of the lake. In 1900 due to the extension of the park’s green area the authorities will include an additional promenade situated at the bottom of the Citadel Hill named Elisabeth Promenade after the Austrian Empress. It was designed as a long curvy lane of 420 m, at the center of which there was a platform of Belvedere hill. The unveiling of the Queen’s bust had happened on this platform on 20th August 1902, the statue was made by Alajos Stróbl. This small area communicated with the park via the Elisabeth Bridge, a metal bridge of 35 m built over the Somes river in the same year. In the year 1940 the famous architect Károly Kós designed a building meant to house the exhibitions of the Transylvanian artists, this building now hosts the painting workshops of the Art and Design University. The park was declared a historical monument and it was one of the first gardens in Eastern Europe meant to be used by the larger public. It is still considered to be the most important leisure spot and Promenade according to the citizens of Cluj.

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The “Lucian Blaga” National Theatre and Romanian Opera

The “Lucian Blaga” National Theatre and Romanian OperaThe two cultural institutions were founded in 18th September 1919, as an expression of spiritual rebirth after the Great Uniuon in 1918. The building which houses the „Lucian Blaga” National Theatre and the Romanian Opera was built between 1904 and 1906, as seat for the Hungarian National Theatre, by the famous Viennese firm „ Fellner und Helmer”, combining stylistic elements of new-baroque and Secession. The hall has 928 setas and it is built in New-Baroque style. For decorating the lobby were used stylistic modulations inspired by Secession. The National Theatre and the Romanian Opera have been functioning there since 1919. The opening show of the National Theatre of Cluj took place on 1st and 2nd December 1919, with the plays „Se face ziua” by Zaharia Barsan and „Ovidiu” by Vasile Alecsandri. The „Eupharion” Studio of the National Theatre is especially designed for the young artists and their creative experiments. The Romanian National Opera from Cluj Napoca is the first lyrical dramatic state institution from Romania. The inaugural show took place on 25 May 1820, with the play “Aida” by G.Verdi. More than 200 titles of operas, operettas and ballets from the world repertoire have been put on scene at the Romanian Opera so far.

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The Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania

The Ethnographic Museum of TransylvaniaFounded in 1922 by professor Romulus Voia, the Etnographic Museum of Transylvania entered the elite of the Romanian etnographic museums, due to the exceptional quality of its patrimony.It is currently composed of over 41.000 traditional peasant objects from 17th-20th centuries and a documentary fund of over 80.000 items. The museum has two sctions: the Pavilion Section and „Romulus Vuia” entographic Park (the open-air section). The Pavilion Section functions in „Reduta” Palace – historical monument that dates since the 16th century. The current pavilion exhibition, vernished on 16th of December and called „Traditional folk culture from Transylvania in the 18th-20th centuries”, rebuilds, with talent, the way in which the Transylvanian peasantry lived two centuries ago. As testemonies remained simple tools or ingenious equipments used in domestic activities, culminating with rich folk suits, which showed not only the stage of the life, but also the social position of the one who wore them. There are also presented traditional costums of the life cycle, the calendar ones and the peasant costumes, with an essential role in highlighting the regional and ethnic identity. Curiosities: With a history of more than 80 years, the museum is the greatest of this kind in Romania and among the most prestigious in Europe (the sixth). The museum functions in „Reduta” building, which housed during 1848-1865 the Transylvanian Diet. The famous trial of the authors of the Transylvanian Memorandum took place in this building in 1894-1895. It has 50.000 photos, 5.000 diapositives, 12.000 specialised magazines. The tariff for adults is 6 lei, for pupils, students and pensioners- 3 lei. Tariff for taking photos: 15 lei. Tariff for video: 25 lei. Tariff for a guide: (less than 15 lei / person) – 15 lei for Romanian and 25 lei for foreign languages.

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The Matthias Corvinus House

The Matthias Corvinus HouseThe Matthias Corvinus House (or Mehffy House) is a cityish builing in gothic style from the 15th century (today, Art and Design University of Cluj Napoca). In this house, which was the city’s inn in past, was born on 23rd of February 1443 Matia Corvin, the son of the vaivode of Transylvania, John Hunyadi (Ioan de Hunedoara). Matia Corvin was the greatest king of Hungary (1458-1490), he was learned, patron of arts, wise and just, being mentioned in songs and legends even today. In 1467, he acquited the owners of the house in which he was born from paying taxes and fees to the city. This privilege was enforced by the next kings and princes. The house served as different institutions. It was a college, but was also home for the etnographic collections of the Transylvanian Carpathian Society. Over time, the building has suffered various changes, adapted to the new architectural styles. The basement and some platbans of windows and doors that have lintels in oblique section are charactheristic of the gothic style. During the first half of the 16th century appeared the first elements of the Renaissance: some platbans from Renaissance on the facade, with denticles, together with gothic elements, as well as the portal in broken arch. The original arches were chiefly replaced. During the 18th century the building was made a hospital and the yard had suffered a few baroque changes. At the end of the 19th century, the building was in an advanced state of degradation and it was restored. Many elements of Art Nouveau , Secession were introduced, being in fashion at that time. In the 50’s of the last century, the modifications of Art Nouveau were removed, being incompatible with the architecture of the building, which gained the pressent appearance.

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The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

The Orthodox Metropolitan CathedralThe Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral (Avram Iancu Square) – Romanian Orthodox Mitropoly of Cluj, Alba, Crisana, Maramures. Archiepiscopate of Vad, Feleac and Cluj (18 Avram Iancu Square). It was built between 1923-1933, according to the plans of the architects Constantin Pompoiu and George Cristinel, representing the Romanian stylistic current. It is one of the most important religious buildings from Cluj Napoca municipality. The church is dedicated to the Assumption – the date in which the Romanian Army entered Transylvania (15th of August 1916). In 1973, when the Diocesan See of Cluj was made Archiepiscopate, the church became archipepiscolap cathedral. Since 1996, the cathedral had been in a great process of outside restoration, process which came to an end in 1999. Inside, a new Byzantine painting was made, in the famous mosaic of Murano. Since 2006, the building has served as cathedral of the Archiepiscopate of Vad, Feleac and Cluj, which is also metropolitan of Cluj, Alba, Crisana and Maramures. The Ortodox Archiepiscopate of Cluj holds an important collection of religious and documentary art, which was inaugurated in 1938 and reorganized in 1975. The main fund consists of painted icons from 17th -19th centuries and liturgical objects. The museum collection includes documents regarding the history of the diocese (16th century), religious objects, icons on wood and glass (17th century), manuscripts, vestments, crosses, chalices (16th century), ethnographic printings and testimonies about the Romanian people past.

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Manuela Cimpean