Our couchsurfing host Valentina was going into town, so we went along with her and she dropped us off at one of the entrances to the citadel here in central Alba Iulia.
We are staying at a house in the village of Oarda de Sus, about 8 kms (5 miles) from the center of town.
Where we are staying right now.
The city of Alba Iulia (pop 65,000) has a very interesting history, and of course that's why we are here!
Originally it was a capital of the Roman Empire dating back 2,000 years ago to 105 AD. Fast forward a thousand years and it was the center of the Catholic Diocese of Transylvania and the Catholic Cathedral was built here.
Six hundred years later, Alba Iulia became an important military site and it was decided to built a huge citadel to resist Ottoman invasions.
Ruth, overlooking the walls.
And so, between 1715 and 1738, 10,000 serfs labored to build the huge structure. There were three layers of fortification, six gates, and a system of drawbridges and tunnels. Once it was built, a garrison of 10,000 soldiers lived here.
After World War I, the citadel was used by 100,000 people to celebrate the union that became present day Romania. And between 1918 and 1922, the present day Romanian Orthodox Cathedral was built on the site. King Ferdinand and Queen Maria were crowned here.
Huge thick walls and a drawbridge.
We don't understand how they made soooo many bricks! There would be millions of them.
Anca, Ruth, and Andreea in the Alba Iulia tourist office located in the citadel.
We always make an effort to stop in the local tourist office. They are a wealth of information, and provided us with maps and lots of information. Thanks to Anca and Andreea for their help!
Between two of the fortifications is now a roadway that circles the interior.
It is 3 kms (1.8 miles) long. How did they make that many bricks for the huge walls??
One of the lower entrance gates, looking back at the business area.
Most areas have been beautifully restored over the last 10 years.
The upper entrance gate to the citadel.
There are a lot of these statues throughout the compound.
Excavation has uncovered a lot of Roman artifacts. Even a street and foundations of buildings from 2,000 years ago.
An artist depiction based on the findings.
We went into the big Roman Catholic Cathedral...
Built between 1247 and 1291.
How did they build this back then? Amazing...
The organ has 2,209 pipes, and was built in 1877.
These two crypts are dated 1442 and 1458.
We wandered around outside for an hour or so and then decided to visit the Romanian National Museum of the Union...a history and archaeological museum containing many of the Roman artifacts found on site.
Roman statue from 2,000 years ago!
The museum was not bad, but we can only look at so many broken pieces of pottery!
Next up was the Roman Orthodox Cathedral. The entrance way and grounds are spectacular, as is the building itself...
The entrance gate to the Orthodox Cathedral.
Built between 1918 and 1922.
We were allowed inside, but it was difficult to get a decent photo of the interior, so I took a video for you...
It was after 3:00pm by now, and we were going to take the public bus back to Oarda de Sus. So we walked from the citadel to the train station where the main bus depot is. We bought four tickets at 2.5 lei ($0.80 CAD, $0.60 USD) each. We would each use one, and then save two for another day.
The schedule said our bus was to leave at 4:17pm, so we went into a nearby grocery store and bought some supplies. As we were shopping, we saw a neat setup for buying wine! You take an empty 1 liter plastic bottle, put it under the spout, and fill it up with your choice of red, white or rose...
Ruth, concentrating so she doesn't spill a drop!
One liter of wine for 4.89 lei ($1.60 CAD, $1.20 USD). Now this is a civilized way to buy wine!
Not sure on the agenda for today, but it's 10:00am already again!
If you're a fan of Crocs, today is a good day to buy some...
And in Canada...for Columbo fans out there...