Cluj-Napoca (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈkluʒ naˈpoka] ( listen); German: Klausenburg; Hungarian: Kolozsvár, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈkoloʒvaːr] ( listen); Medieval Latin: Castrum Clus, Claudiopolis; Yiddish: קלויזנבורג, Kloiznburg), commonly known as Cluj, is the second most populous city in Romania, behind the national capital Bucharest, and is the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest (324 km / 201 mi), Budapest (351 km / 218 mi) and Belgrade (322 km / 200 mi). Located in the Someşul Mic River valley, the city is considered the unofficial capital to the historical province of Transylvania. Between 1790 and 1848 and between 1861 and 1867, it was the official capital of the Grand Principality of Transylvania.
As of 2011, 309,136 inhabitants live within the city limits, marking a decrease from the figure recorded at the 2002 census. The Cluj-Napoca metropolitan area has a population of 392,562 people, while the population of the peri-urban area (Romanian: zona periurbană) exceeds 400,000 residents. The new metropolitan government of Cluj-Napoca became operational in December 2008. Lastly, according to the 2007 data provided by the County Population Register Service, the total population of the city is as high as 392,276 people. However, this number does not include the floating population of students and other non-residents—an average of over 20,000 people each year during 2004–2007, according to the same source.
The city spreads out from St. Michael’s Church in Unirii Square, built in the 14th century and named after the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Cluj-Napoca. The boundaries of the municipality contain an area of 179.52 square kilometres (69.31 sq mi). An analysis undertaken by the real estate agency Profesional Casa indicates that, because of infrastructure development, communes such as Feleacu, Vâlcele, Mărtineşti, Jucu and Baciu will eventually become neighbourhoods of the city, thereby enlarging its area.
Cluj-Napoca experienced a decade of decline during the 1990s, its international reputation suffering from the policies of its mayor of the time, Gheorghe Funar. Today, the city is one of the most important academic, cultural, industrial and business centres in Romania. Among other institutions, it hosts the country’s largest university, Babeş-Bolyai University, with its famous botanical garden; nationally renowned cultural institutions; as well as the largest Romanian-owned commercial bank. According to the American magazine InformationWeek, Cluj-Napoca is quickly becoming Romania’s technopolis.
Napoca on the Roman Dacia fragment of the 1st-4th century AD Tabula Peutingeriana (upper center)
The Roman Empire conquered Dacia in AD 101 and 106, during the rule of Trajan, and the Roman settlement Napoca, established thereafter, is first recorded on a milestone discovered in 1758 in the vicinity of the city. Trajan’s successor Hadrian granted Napoca the status of municipium as municipium Aelium Hadrianum Napocenses. Later, in the 2nd century AD, the city gained the status of a colonia as Colonia Aurelia Napoca. Napoca became a provincial capital of Dacia Porolissensis and thus the seat of a procurator. The colonia was evacuated in 274 by the Romans. There are no references to urban settlement on the site for the better part of a millennium thereafter.
«Claudiopolis, Coloswar vulgo Clausenburg, Transilvaniæ civitas primaria». Gravure[a] of medieval Cluj by Georg Houfnagel (1617)
At the beginning of the Middle Ages, two groups of buildings existed on the current site of the city: the wooden fortress at Cluj-Mănăştur (Kolozsmonostor) and the civilian settlement developed around the current Piaţa Muzeului (Museum Place) in the city centre. Although the precise date of the conquest of Transylvania by the Hungarians is not known, the earliest Hungarian artifacts found in the region are dated to the first half of the 10th century. In any case, after that time, the city became part of the Kingdom of Hungary. King Stephen I made the city the seat of the castle county of Kolozs, and King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary founded the abbey of Cluj-Mănăştur (Kolozsmonostor), destroyed during the Tatar invasions in 1241 and 1285. As for the civilian colony, a castle and a village were built to the northwest of the ancient Napoca no later than the late 12th century. This new village was settled by large groups of Transylvanian Saxons, encouraged during the reign of Crown Prince Stephen, Duke of Transylvania. The first reliable mention of the settlement dates from 1275, in a document of King Ladislaus IV of Hungary, when the village (Villa Kulusvar) was granted to the Bishop of Transylvania. On August 19, 1316, during the rule of the new king, Charles I of Hungary, Cluj was granted the status of a city (Latin: civitas), as a reward for the Saxons’ contribution to the defeat of the rebellious Transylvanian voivode, Ladislaus Kán.
Many craft guilds were established in the second half of the 13th century, and a patrician stratum based in commerce and craft production displaced the older landed elite in the town’s leadership. Through the privilege granted by Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1405, the city opted out from the jurisdiction of voivodes, vice-voivodes and royal judges, and obtained the right to elect a twelve-member jury every year. In 1488, King Matthias Corvinus (born in Klausenburg in 1440) ordered that the centumvirate—the city council, consisting of one hundred men—be half composed from the homines bone conditiones (the wealthy people), with craftsmen supplying the other half; together they would elect the chief judge and the jury. Meanwhile, an agreement was reached providing that half of the representatives on this city council were to be drawn from the Hungarian, half from the Saxon population, and that judicial offices were to be held on a rotating basis. In 1541, Klausenburg became part of the independent Principality of Transylvania after the Ottoman Turks occupied the central part of the Kingdom of Hungary; a period of economic and cultural prosperity followed. Although Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár) served as a political capital for the princes of Transylvania, Klausenburg enjoyed the support of the princes to a greater extent, thus establishing connections with the most important centres of Eastern Europe at that time, along with Košice (Kassa), Kraków, Prague and Vienna.
In terms of religion, Protestant ideas first appeared in the middle of the 16th century. During Gáspár Heltai’s service as preacher, Lutheranism grew in importance, as did the Swiss doctrine of Calvinism. By 1571, the Turda (Torda) Diet had adopted a more radical religion, Ferenc Dávid’s Unitarianism, characterised by the free interpretation of the Bible and denial of the dogma of the Trinity.Stephen Báthory founded a Catholic Jesuit academy in Klausenburg in order to promote an anti-Reform movement; however, it did not have much success. For a year, in 1600–1601, Cluj became part of the personal union of Michael the Brave. Under the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699, Klausenburg became part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
In the 17th century, Cluj suffered from great calamities, suffering from epidemics of the plague and devastating fires. The end of this century brought the end of Turkish sovereignty, but found the city bereft of much of its wealth, municipal freedom, cultural centrality, political significance and even population. It gradually regained its important position within Transylvania as the headquarters of the Gubernium and the Diets between 1719 and 1732, and again from 1790 until the revolution of 1848, when the Gubernium moved to Hermannstadt (now Sibiu). In 1791, a group of Romanian intellectuals drew up a petition, known as Supplex Libellus Valachorum, which was sent to the Emperor in Vienna. The petition demanded the equality of the Romanian nation in Transylvania in respect to the other nations (Saxon and Hungarian) governed by the Unio Trium Nationum, but it was rejected by the Cluj Diet.
Beginning in 1830, the city became the centre of the Hungarian national movement within the principality. This erupted with the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. At one point, the Austrians were gaining control of Transylvania, trapping the Hungarians between two flanks. But, the Hungarian army, headed by the Polish general Józef Bem, launched an offensive in Transylvania, recapturing Klausenburg by Christmas 1848. After the 1848 revolution, an absolutist regime was established, followed by a liberal regime that came to power in 1860. In this latter period, the government granted equal rights to the ethnic Romanians, but only briefly. In 1865, the Diet in Cluj abolished the laws voted in Sibiu, and proclaimed the 1848 Law concerning the Union of Transylvania with Hungary. Before 1918, the city’s only Romanian-language schools were two church-run elementary schools, and the first printed Romanian periodical did not appear until 1903.
Cluj-Napoca in the Grand Duchy of Transylvania maps, 1769–1773. Josephinische Landesaufnahme
After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Klausenburg and all of Transylvania were again integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary. During this time, Kolozsvár was among the largest and most important cities of the kingdom and was the seat of Kolozs County. Ethnic Romanians in Transylvania suffered oppression and persecution. Their grievances found expression in the Transylvanian Memorandum, a petition sent in 1892 by the political leaders of Transylvania’s Romanians to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor-King Franz Joseph. It asked for equal rights with the Hungarians and demanded an end to persecutions and attempts at Magyarisation. The Emperor forwarded the memorandum to Budapest—the Hungarian capital. The authors, among them Ioan Raţiu and Iuliu Coroianu, were arrested, tried and sentenced to prison for «high treason» in Kolozsvár/Cluj in May 1894. During the trial, approximately 20,000 people who had come to Cluj demonstrated on the streets of the city in support of the defendants. A year later, the King gave them pardon upon the advice of his Hungarian prime minister, Dezső Bánffy. In 1897, the Hungarian government decided that only Hungarian place names should be used and prohibited the use of the German or Romanian versions of the city’s name on official government documents.
In the autumn of 1918, as World War I drew to a close, Cluj became a centre of revolutionary activity, headed by Amos Frâncu. On October 28, 1918, he made an appeal for the organisation of the «union of all Romanians». Thirty-nine delegates were elected from Cluj to attend the proclamation of the union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania in Alba-Iulia on December 1, 1918, later acknowledged internationally by the Treaty of Trianon. The interwar years saw the new authorities embark on a «Romanianisation» campaign: a Capitoline Wolf statue donated by Rome was set up in 1921; in 1932 a plaque written by historian Nicolae Iorga was placed on Matthias Corvinus’ statue, emphasising his Romanian (paternal) ancestry; and construction of an imposing Orthodox cathedral began in a city where only about a tenth of inhabitants belonged to the Orthodox state church. This endeavour had only mixed results: by 1939, Hungarians still dominated local economic (and to a certain extent) cultural life: for instance, Cluj had five Hungarian daily newspapers and just one in Romanian.
In 1940, Cluj, along with the rest of Northern Transylvania, became part of Miklós Horthy’s Hungary through the Second Vienna Award imposed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. After the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944 and installed a puppet government under Döme Sztójay, they forced large-scale antisemitic measures in the city. The headquarters of the local Gestapo were located in the New York Hotel. That May, the authorities began the relocation of the Jews to the Iris ghetto. Liquidation of the 16,148 captured Jews occurred through six deportations to Auschwitz in May–June 1944. Despite facing severe sanctions from the Hungarian administration, some Jews escaped across the border to Romania with the assistance of intellectuals such as Emil Haţieganu, Raoul Şorban, Aurel Socol and Miskolczy Dezső, and various peasants from Mănăştur.
On October 11, 1944 the city was captured by Romanian and Soviet troops. It was formally restored to the Kingdom of Romania by the Treaty of Paris in 1947. On January 24, March 6 and May 10, 1946, the Romanian students who had come back to Cluj after the restoration of northern Transylvania rose against the claims of autonomy made by nostalgic Hungarians and the new way of life imposed by the Soviets, resulting in clashes and street fights.
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 produced a powerful echo within the city; there was a real possibility that demonstrations by students sympathizing with their peers across the border could escalate into an uprising. The protests provided the Romanian authorities with a pretext to speed up the process of «unification» of the local Babeş (Romanian) and Bolyai (Hungarian) universities, allegedly contemplated before the 1956 events. Hungarians remained the majority of the city’s population until the 1960s. Then Romanians began to outnumber Hungarians, due to the population increase as a result of the government’s forced industrialisation of the city and new jobs. During the Communist period, the city recorded a high industrial development, as well as enforced construction expansion. On October 16, 1974, when the city celebrated 1850 years since its first mention as Napoca, the Communist government changed the name of the city by adding «Napoca» to it.
Late 20th and early 21st century
During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Cluj-Napoca was one of the scenes of the rebellion: 26 were killed and approximately 170 injured. After the end of totalitarian rule, the nationalist politician Gheorghe Funar became mayor and governed for the next 12 years. His tenure was marked by strong Romanian nationalism and acts of ethnic provocation against the Hungarian-speaking minority. This deterred foreign investment; however, in June 2004, Gheorghe Funar was voted out of office, and the city entered a period of rapid economic growth. From 2004 to 2009, the mayor was Emil Boc, concurrently president of the Democratic Liberal Party. He went on to be elected as prime minister, returning as mayor in 2012.