Miercurea-Ciuc is the seat of Harghita county. The city lies in the east of the county in the Olt valley. Since it was founded until 1918, Csíkszereda was the capital of Csík County in the Kingdom of Hungary. Between 1927 and 1938 it changed its name to the Romanian version and was the capital of Ciuc County in the Kingdom of Romania.
The city was given once again to Romania at the end of the Second World War after Hungary restored its sovereignty over it between 1940-1944. It has since then known a significant increase in its industry. In the 1960s a beer factory was built here, Ciuc Beer. Its products have gained an increasing popularity in Romania.
After Miercurea-Ciuc became the county seat of Harghita in 1968, a new socialist style city centre was constructed; the city thereafter began to develop into a major centre of Székely culture and identity. In 2001 the old Harghita Hotel was converted into the Sapientia Transylvanian Hungarian University, which, although privately run, is the first Hungarian university in modern Romania. Other cities in Transylvania also have Sapientia University faculties. Since the university opened it has been attracting growing numbers of young people and intellectuals.
Miercurea-Ciuc is one of the coldest cities in Romania, with winter temperatures often going under -30°C, making the city ideal for winter sports. The Miercurea-Ciuc ice rink, Vákár Lajos műjégpálya, annually hosts the national ice hockey championships, often won by the local team, Csíkszeredai Sport Club. In 2006 the ice rink hosted the world junior championship in short track speed skating. The only long track speed skating rink in Romania is situated next to the indoor ice hockey rink. Another source of pride in the city is the famous Ciuc beer (also known as Csíki sör), considered by some to be the best beer in Romania.
Petőfi Street is the main pedestrian street in the city. It has a young feel thanks to the student presence, and houses many trendy restaurants and fashionable cafés. Their Székely specialities conjure up images of a small city in Western Europe.
In the city centre, the main point of interest is the Mikó Castle, built in a late Renaissance style. The original more decorative castle was raised in the 17th century on the orders of Ferenc Mikó Hídvégi, the personal advisor of Gabriel Bethlen, the prince of Transylvania at the time. Much of the castle was destroyed in 1661 during the Tatar raids, but it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century and was mainly used as a barracks; today it houses the Csík Székely Museum. Behind the castle you will find a small Skanzen (museum village), consisting of a few traditional Csíki houses and wooden gates. Across the road from the castle is the city hall built in 1886, originally the county hall of the old Hungarian crown county. Beside the castle is the 1904 Courthouse. The latest significant addition to the architectural landscape is the controversial 2001 Millennium Templom, designed by Hungarian architect Imre Makovecz and located next to the Baroque Church of the Holy Cross.
A few kilometres to the east of the city centre is the Csíksomlyó church. A large meadow nearby has been the site of a yearly Roman Catholic pilgrimage since the 16th century. The event attracts several hundred thousand people every year and is held on Whit Saturday in June. It is called the "Csíksomlyó Pilgrimage" (Hungarian: Csíksomlyói Búcsú). This traditional gathering is attended by Székely and Csángó Hungarians living in the region, also by a great number of (mostly Hungarian) Catholics from other parts of Transylvania, from Hungary and all over the world.