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Fortifications and the town of Kolozsvár

Cluj-Napoca(Klausenburg, Kolozsvár) was the historical center and the second most important town of Transylvania, the birthplace of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus but Prince Bocskai István was also born here. The city can be found in Romania. Historically speaking, Kolozsvár used to be populated by Saxons and Hungarians alike but it has been heavily industrialized in the 20th century and now the Romanians are in majority that turned Cluj-Napoca into the second largest city of the country. There are three important fortifications that are situated in the city: the early medieval fort of Kolozsmonostor, the walls of Kolozsvár, and the impressive Upper Castle of Kolozsvár that was built in 1713. Now, let us talk about the city’s fortification.

History of town fortifications

Its first fort was built in the 10th century but it was destroyed during the Mongolian invasion of 1241. The German Saxons were invited there in 1272 and they built its Óvár („old castle”) in the second part of the 13th century while the third fort was built in the 14th century. The various guilds of the city were in charge of the assigned bastions and walls. The first Hungarian mention of the city („Kulusuar”) is from 1257.

The Óvár received its first privileges and became a town in 1316 and King Zsigmond made the city a free royal town in 1405. The king awarded the burghers the same rights that Buda enjoyed: local authority, the right of keeping markets, and to stop merchants who were passing through. He also allowed them to build new walls, towers, and bastions, not to mention the moats. The constructions began in earnest, due to the imminent Ottoman peril. At that time, there were only about 3-4 thousand burghers in the city so the work was going on slowly, it was not finished in the age of King László V. The three-kilometer-long wall around the city was completed at the end of the 1470s. (more in the History section)

What can we see today?

The city centre is the main cultural, financial, administrative and commercial area of Kolozsvár. Also, the Museum Square is the starting point of the fortifications of the city, and here we find the Matthias Corvinus House where the famous King of Hungary was born. The main square is dominated by the 15th century St. Michael's Church, one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in Romania. It is also famous for the Matthias Corvinus Monument that is on its side.

In the Farkas Street, we can see the replica of a Gothic bronze statue made by the Kolozsvári Brothers in 1373, in front of a splenid Gothic church. Walking in the town, we can discover many sections of the medieval town’s wall, the most intact parts are at the Tailors’s Bastion, dating from 1475.

It is one of the two structures, that are still standing. The other one is the Firemen's Tower.

Text by Gábor Szántai