Destination Romania: Why Not Choose… Cluj?
Cluj, a bustling and dynamic city, welcomes you throughout the year with its countless cultural activities. Music concerts, museums, architecture… you won't know where to start!
A City of Surprises… and Legends!
Kick off your holiday in the city with a trip to its largest square, Piața Unirii, where you can admire the Baroque or Gothic architecture of the buildings. Make sure you see the Continental Hotel, with its blend of Renaissance, Classical and Baroque architectural styles. This famous building dates back to 1895.
Stop off to see St. Michael's Church and get lost in the small streets: as well as many religious buildings, there are mediaeval vestiges scattered around the city, perfect for a historical treasure hunt.
If you want to see a splendid panorama of the city, Fortress Hill (Dealul Cetatuia), around 10-15 minutes away on foot, offers an ideal viewpoint.
Around the city, several sites of interest are also recommended. To the south is the Turda salt mine, converted to welcome tourists. This attraction is becoming more popular every year. To the north is Banffy Castle, a 500-year-old building burned by the German troops during the Second World War, which is well worth the detour. Now restored, it hosts reconstructions and various mediaeval events.
Nature lovers won't be disappointed: the Turda Gorges offer breathtaking landscapes. They are also sure to love Lake Tarnița, located 20km west of Cluj. It offers various water sports, as well as picturesque scenery.
Visitors with a taste for the paranormal will certainly want to venture out to Hoia Baciu Forest, which remains a mystery to this day. According to legend, a shepherd led his 200 sheep into the forest, never to emerge.
Another famous site is the Nicula Monastery. In 1699, an icon of the Mother of God supposedly wept for 26 days, a sign of misfortunes to come.
But how can we talk of Cluj and Romania without mentioning Transylvania, this region surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains and steeped in mystery? With Sibiu and Brașov, Cluj-Napoca is one of the main cities in Transylvania.
The most romantic of the Romanian provinces, with its Latin name meaning "beyond the forest", Transylvania conjures up images of high mountains, tree-filled valleys, little wooden churches and legendary castles. How could anyone resist the charm of such a landscape?
If you're obsessed by the legend of Dracula and you're burning to see the castle where the famous vampire lived with your own eyes, you'll need to leave Cluj and head to Brașov. This age-old mediaeval city will win your heart with its entirely pedestrianised centre, its bastions and fortifications, its Orthodox churches and its art museum. Climb aboard the cable car up to the summit of Timpa hill and admire a magnificent panorama of the city. During the journey, don't forget to make a detour to one of the best preserved peasant citadels in the country: Râşnov. Perched on a rocky crag, it contains several fully restored period houses and offers a luxurious setting to recharge your batteries.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Cluj-Napoca Orthodox Cathedral: you absolutely must look inside this orthodox cathedral to admire its stunning decor, with Murano glass mosaics. Outside the church, admire the statue of Avram Iancu, a key figure in the 1848 Hungarian revolution, who opposed the despotism of Hamburg.
Saint Michael's Roman Catholic Church: located on the Piața Unirii, the Church is one of the boldest examples of Gothic architecture in Cluj-Napoca , and one of the most imposing Gothic religious buildings in Romania .
Get lost strolling through the small streets of the city centre: go in search of the fragments of ramparts around the city!
The National Museum of Transylvanian History: this century-old museum will give you a better understanding of the region's astonishing history, through over 150,000 items covering everything from the Palaeolithic era to the 18th century.
Fortress Hill (Dealul Cetatuia): one of the four fortresses in Cluj old town, its construction dates back to the early 18th century.
Banffy Castle: its magnificent gardens and stunning architecture earned it the name "Little Versailles" before the Second World War.
Turda Salt Mine (Salina Turda): former salt mine which is now a leisure and halotherapy (salt therapy) centre.
Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden(Grădina Botanică): over 10,000 species of plants from all over the world, as well as a particularly rich collection of Romanian plants, in an area of almost 14 hectares.
Hoia Baciu Forest: those who dare to venture into this forest say they experience nausea, severe anxiety, unusual headaches, or even the feeling of being watched. Are you brave enough?
The Hungarian Festival: head to this festival which takes place in the month of August to hear Hungarian music and discover traditional crafts.
Savour Romania's Many Specialities
Mixing several influences, Romanian cuisine offers many delicious dishes.
Make sure you try alivenci (custard tart), ardei umpluți (stuffed peppers), balmoș (a sheep's milk and polenta dish), brânzoaice (soft cheese swirls), bulz (a traditional polenta and cheese dish, grilled in the oven), cocoloși (balls of polenta stuffed with cheese and grilled), mititei (grilled meat rolls seasoned with herbs, a real institution), plăcintă ( traditional pastry of Romania and Mo ldova stuffed with apples or soft cheese), sarmale ( cabbage rolls ), and many other dishes.
Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) : Romania's first international feature film festival, the TIFF offers quality art-house films and a host of other cultural events: workshops, concerts, etc.
Delahoya Festival: The oldest electronic music festival in Romania.
Transylvania International Guitar Festival, Organised by the Transylvania Guitar Association, this festival aims to promote artists to all those with a direct or indirect interest in classical guitar.
Transylvania Jazz Festival : Over three days and three nights, jazz musicians and groups take to the stage in Cluj, as well as three other cities in Transylvania.
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