Cluj-Napoca commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth largest city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equally distant from Bucharest (441 km / 276 mi), Budapest (409 km / 256 mi) and Belgrade (465 km / 291 mi). Located on the Someşul Mic River valley, the city is considered an informal capital to the historical province of Transylvania , and, in 1790-1848 and 1861–1867, was the capital of the Grand Principality of Transylvania.
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 largest university in the country, Babeş-Bolyai University, with its famous botanical garden; nationally renowned cultural institutions; as well as the largest Romanian-owned commercial bank. Monocle magazine identified Cluj-Napoca as one of the top five places worldwide that are due their turn in the international spotlight during 2008. According to the American magazine InformationWeek, Cluj-Napoca is quickly becoming Romania's technopolis.
The first written mention of its name – as a Royal Borough – was in 1213 under the Latin name Castrum Clus. However, despite the fact that Clus as a county name was recorded earlier, in the 1173 document Thomas comes Clusiensis, it is believed that the county's designation derives from the name of the castrum—which might have existed prior to its first mention in 1213—and not vice versa. With respect to the name of this camp, it is widely accepted as a derivation from the Latin term clausa – clusa, meaning "closed place", "strait", "ravine". Similar senses are attributed to the Slavic term kluč and the German Klause – Kluse (meaning mountain pass or weir). An alternative hypothesis relates the name of the city to its first magistrate, Miklus – Miklós / Kolos.
The Hungarian form, first recorded in 1246 as Kulusuar, underwent various phonetic changes over the years (uar/vár means "castle" in Hungarian); the variant Koloswar first appears in a document from 1332. Its Saxon name Clusenburg/Clusenbvrg appeared in 1348, but from 1408 the form Clausenburg was used. The Romanian name of the city used to be spelled alternately as Cluj or Cluş – the latter being the case in Mihai Eminescu's Poesis. However, the city's name was finally changed to Cluj-Napoca in 1974 by the Romanian Communist authorities. Possible etymologies for Napoca or Napuca include the name of some Dacian tribes like the Naparis or Napaei, the Greek term napos (νάπος), meaning "timbered valley" or the Indo-European root *snā-p- (Pokorny 971-2), "to flow, to swim, damp". Independent of these hypotheses, scholars agree that the name of the settlement predates the Roman conquest (AD 106).
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.
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 Magyars is not known, the earliest Magyar artefacts 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 at the earliest in 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 settlement's first reliable mention dates to 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.
In terms of religion, reforming ideas first appeared in the middle of the 16th century. During Gáspár Heltai's service as preacher, the Lutheran trend 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 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. With the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699, Klausenburg became part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
In the 17th century, Cluj suffered from great calamities, being subjected to 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 in 1848, when the Gubernium moved to Hermannstadt. 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 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, where at one point the Austrians were gaining control of Transylvania, trapping the Hungarians between two flanks. However, the Hungarian army, headed by the Polish general Józef Bem, launched an offensive in Transylvania, recapturing Klausenburg by Christmas 1848. After the 1848 an absolute regime was established, followed by a liberal regime that came to power in 1860. It was in this period when equal rights were granted to the Romanians, but only briefly, as 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 appeared in 1903.
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, when Romanians began to outnumber Hungarians, due to the population influx that was a consequence of the policy of forced industrialisation of the city. 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 from its first mention as Napoca, the Communist government changed the name of the city by adding "Napoca" to it.
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 the tolitarian 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, with the city entering a period of rapid economic growth. From 2004 to 2009, the mayor was Emil Boc, the president of the Democratic Liberal Party who went on to become prime minister.
Cluj-Napoca, located in the central part of Transylvania, has a surface area of 179.5 square kilometres (69.3 sq mi). The city lies at the confluence of the Apuseni Mountains, the Someş plateau and the Transylvanian plain. It sprawls over the valleys of Someşul Mic and Nadăş, and, to some extent over the secondary valleys of the Popeşti, Chintău, Borhanci and Popii rivers. The southern part of the city occupies the upper terrace of the northern slope of Feleac Hill, and is surrounded on three sides by hills or mountains with heights between 500 metres (1,600 ft) and 700 metres (2,300 ft). The Someş plateau is situated to the east, while the northern part of town includes Dealurile Clujului ("the Hills of Cluj"), with the peaks, Lombului (684 m), Dealul Melcului (617 m), Techintău (633 m), Hoia (506 m) and Gârbău (570 m). Other hills are located in the western districts, and the hills of Calvaria and Cetăţuia (Belvedere) are located near the centre of city.
Built on the banks of Someşul Mic River, the city is also crossed over by brooks or streams such as Pârâul Ţiganilor, Pârâul Popeşti, Pârâul Nădăşel, Pârâul Chintenilor, Pârâul Becaş, Pârâul Murătorii; Canalul Morilor runs through the centre of town.
A wide variety of flora grow in the Cluj-Napoca Botanical Garden; some animals have also found refuge there. The city has a number of other parks, of which the largest is the Central Park. This park was founded during the 19th century and includes an artificial lake with an island, as well as the largest casino in the city, Chios. Other notable parks in the city are the Iuliu Haţieganu Park of the Babeş-Bolyai University, which features some sport facilities, the Haşdeu Park, within the eponymous student housing district, the high-elevation Cetăţuia, and the Opera Park, behind the building of the Romanian Opera.
The city is surrounded by forests and grasslands. Rare species of plants, such as Venus's slipper and iris, are found in the two botanical reservations of Cluj-Napoca, Fânaţele Clujului and Rezervaţia Valea Morii ("Mill Valley Reservation"). Animals such as boars, badgers, foxes, rabbits and squirrels live in nearby forest areas such as Făget and Hoia. The latter forest hosts the Romulus Vuia ethnographical park, with exhibits dating back to 1678. Various people report alien encounters in the Hoia-Baciu forest, large networks of catacombs that connect the old churches of the city, or the presence of a monster in the nearby lake of Tarniţa.
A modern, 750-metre (820 yd)-long ski resort is sits on Feleac Hill, with an altitude difference of 98 metres (107 yd) between its highest and lowest points. This ski resort offers outdoor lighting, artificial snow and a ski tow. Băişoara winter resort is located approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the city of Cluj-Napoca, and includes two ski trails, for beginner and advanced skiers, respectively: Zidul Mic and Zidul Mare. Two other summer resorts/spas are included in the metropolitan area, namely Cojocna and Someşeni Baths.
There are a large number of castles in the countryside surroundings, constructed by wealthy medieval families living in the city. The most notable of them is the Bonţida Bánffy Castle - once known as "the Versailles of Transylvania" - in the nearby village of Bonţida, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from the city centre. In 1963, the castle was used as a set for Liviu Ciulei's film Forest of the Hanged, which won an award at Cannes. There are other castles located in the vicinity of the city; indeed, the castle at Bonţida is not even the only one constructed by the Bánffy family. The commune of Gilău features the Wass-Bánffy Castle, while another Bánffy Castle is located in the Răscruci area. In addition, Nicula Monastery, erected during the 18th century, is an important pilgrimage site in northern Transylvania. This monastery houses the renowned wonder-working Madonna of Nicula. The icon is said to have wept between February 15 and March 12, 1669. During this time, nobles, officers, laity and clergy came to see it. At first they were sceptical, looking at it on both sides, but then humbly crossed themselves and returned home petrified by the wonder they had seen. During the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (commemorating the death of the Virgin Mary) on August 15, more than 150,000 people from all over the country come to visit the monastery.