The Citadel in Cluj-Napoca, RomaniaEUROPE, Historic/Museums, STAFF — By Estrella Azul on August 31, 2011 at 01:02
By staff writer Estrella Azul. Photos Copyright © Estrella Azul.
IF YOU’VE READ my previous travel articles here on Milliver’s Travels, you know for a fact that I love walking.
That is why one afternoon a few weeks ago, I decided to go for a walk. But not how I’ve decided and never left the house for the past three days before that afternoon. No. I finally pushed myself out the door and as soon as I found myself walking towards the citadel or Fortress Hill (called Fellegvár in Hungarian, or Cetăţuia in Romanian), I was completely in my element again.
Originally I was heading towards the main stairs that lead up to the hilltop when I passed the staircase that leads up to the houses on the hillside; a staircase which is also the start of the only existing step-street of my city, Cluj-Napoca (called Kolozsvár in Hungarian).
I came to a halt as it dawned on me: I have only once set foot on this street, one night on my way down from the citadel, and couldn’t see it properly. So I went back and continued my walk up these stairs to see what the street is actually like. Discovering its beauty in daylight was more than worth it.
Situated at an altitude of 405 m, on the hilltop called Fortress Hill, during the Habsburg reign there was a fortress built between 1715 and 1735, designed in a star shape with a redoubt (fort or fort system, usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort) and a tower.
Aside from observation and defense towers, the fortress was surrounded by a wall of earth. Above the gateways, which guarded the citadel from every side, there were different buildings housing administrative offices, a weapons depot and the Habsburg troops were also garrisoned in the enclosure.
Today, only small parts of the walls, a few buildings and the redoubt, transformed into the Paratroopers Tower, are left of the old fortress. The whole assembly was deeply affected by the landslides in the area.
The gates are very old and left derelict. There are ‘Imminent Danger’ placards warning those passing beneath them (although that never stopped me from passing). I think it’s sad that so little remained of the old stronghold.
Fortress Hill has long been a popular place for lovers out walking, and to those who want to admire the city panorama from its various banks.
Today, aside from the view, one of the attractions is a huge iron cross, built in 1995, which is visible from many parts of the city. It was erected in memory of those imprisoned there, and to replace the original cross which was destroyed by the communists in 1950. (I personally think it would’ve looked nicer at a smaller scale.) The Belvedere Hotel was built on top of the hill in the 1970s and is an attraction in and of itself – many wedding receptions, parties and banquets are held there. (See feature photo for cross and hotel.)
The main stairs which one climbs to the fortress are surrounded by green space, flowers and trees. The hilltop overall is as much an outdoor museum as it is a lovely park with a large playground, camping areas and cafés.
It is great pity that a place once so loved, offering a perfect panorama of my city (much more interesting than what everyone sees from Feleac as they enter into the city), is left derelict.
While it’s looking much better now than a few years ago – if only for the joy of walking there and admiring the beauty, the panorama – I think a little more effort to restore the area would add even more to its current value.
Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©.