Cluj-Napoca – Center-North

This article continues our journey through Cluj, following the previous one. We will see mainly 3 distinct areas: the Mihai Viteazu area, the Baritiu Street and the Museum Square, which is the oldest part of the city.

We begin by losing ourselves through the narrow streets of the old town, with buildings belonging to the Hungarian, Austrian and Jewish communities, buildings forming a mosaic hard to decipher.

Then suddenly we encounter a tower. It’s the Weavers’ Tower or the Fire Tower, built in 1547. It’s called the Fire Tower because a fire watch was placed there since this corner of the town was the most fire-prone area. And it’s called the Weaver’s Tower because it was defended by the guild of weavers in ancient times. Today the Fire Museum is housed inside.

Cluj still remains a mixture of old and new – or of renewal and decay…

Mihai Viteazu Square is mostly about the Central Market and one of the most important crossroads of Cluj.

A lot of memories linger here…

Here is a view of Belvedere or Fortress Hill, with the hotel on it in the center of the image.

In Mihai Viteazu opened the first McDonald’s in Cluj. I remember the enthusiasm of going there during my student years… It was year 2000…

Somewhere hidden in the area is the Șas Hevra Synagogue, built in 1922, ancient Ashkenazy Jewish spiritual place, nowadays the Institute of Judaic Studies and Jewish History of Cluj University.

The area also hides another synagogue, the Orthodox Synagogue, built in 1851. It’s the first synagogue built in Cluj, in the classical style. Sadly, the synagogue is not on the list of monuments of Romania, so it is nowadays a ruin sometimes used as a performing arts theater (or so it seems), while being previously bakery, slaughterhouse, canteen and… well… radio studio.

Cluj has hidden views; here is a view of the Mill’s Canal, a water canal meandering through Cluj relatively in parallel with the Somes River.

Going back to the Horea Bridge area and continuing on Baritiu Street, we encounter the Faculty of Computer Science building, part of the Technical University of Cluj. Basically, there are 3 main Universities in the city: the Technical University, the Medicine & Pharmacy University (from where I graduated) and the Babes-Bolyai University (the main or general interest university). This building is also regarded as the headquarters of the Technical University. It was built around year 1887 as the Former Industrial School and College, later becoming the Technical University.

On the opposite side of the road is the The Faculty of Constructions, former Franz Joseph Museum of Industry and Technology, built around year 1903.

One street farther is another building of the Technical University.

And nearby is the old headquarters of the Medicine & Pharmacy University, apparently still used today.

Also nearby is the Hungarian State Theatre and Opera, at the foot of the Fortress Hill and near the Somes River. Former Summer Theatre, the building was built in 1909 in the eclectic style, and remains one of the most active cultural centers of Cluj.

Here is another detail with the hill nearby and a typical Cluj tram stopping in the station in front of the opera.

As we reenter in the old center, we encounter the National Museum of History of Transylvania, former Petrichevich-Horváth Dániel House. The museum is at his present location since 1930 and is one of the most interesting places in Cluj. It forms one side of the Museum Square and gives its name.

Here is the Museum Square, with the Caroline Column (built in 1818 for Emperor Franz I and his wife Caroline Augusta who visited Cluj one year before) and the Franciscan Church and Monastery in the background.

In the square there is also the Mikes János Palace, built after 1790 in the late baroque and eclectic styles.

Franciscan Church and Monastery was built in the second half of the 15th century in late Gothic style by the Dominicans. In 1609 it was ceded to the Calvinists, then it was reacquired by the Catholics in the late 17th century. First the Jesuits and then the Franciscans moved in in 1725. In the 18th century, the church and the monastery were rebuilt in the Baroque style.

Next to the Franciscan Church, in 1527, used to be a Coin Mint.

Following the small streets of the old center, we encounter the Tauffer Huse, now an Irish pub.

A couple of steps backwards and we can see the Matia House (to the left) and the Sapientia University building (to the right). Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania is a private Hungarian-language university, founded in 2000, sponsored by the Hungarian state. The building hosts its rectorate. It is also known as Eppel House and the birthplace of Bocskai István, Prince of Transylvania born here in 1557.

Matia House is one of the oldest houses in Cluj, built somewhere before year 1440. Hunyadi Mátyás, later King Matthias of Hungary, was born in the house in year 1443. It is also one of the most important historical buildings in Transylvania, both for Hungarians and Romanians.

Here is a view of the house and the place by night. And here we end, for now, our journey.