Alba Carolina fortress

Alba Iulia is situated in the heart of Romania and is the spiritual capital of the country. Alba Iulia is the site of the ancient Apulum, founded by the Romans in the 2nd century A.D., and destroyed by Tatars in 1241. From 1599 to 1601, Alba Iulia was the capital of the united principalities of Walachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. It was the site of the proclamation of Transylvania's unification with Romania (1 December 1918) and of the coronation of King Ferdinand in 1922.


The Alba Carolina fortress was built between 1714 and 1738 and it is considered to be the most representative baroque, Vauban-type star fortress in Romania and one of the largest of this kind in Eastern Europe.


The fortress was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, who worked under the supervision of the general Stefan de Steinville and was later completed under General Weiss. The work at the fortification of Alba Iulia has began on the 4th of November 1715, when the foundation of Carol bulwark, dedicated to the emperor Carol VI and situated on the Northern side was made. 20.000 serves built the walls. Between the 18th and 19th centuries the fortress served as the military headquarters of Transylvania and also as a general armament repository. It was once one of the most powerful citadels in southeastern Europe, and served in the line of defense meant to keep out Turkish invaders from Central Europe. The leaders of the peasants’ revolution of 1784-85 were jailed, tried and executed here. Later, in 1848, the citadel was attacked by Hungarian revolutionary forces led by general Bem, but did not fall into their hands. Naturally, at the dawn of the 20th century, the citadel became obsolete, as modern warfare made its appearance on the European scene.


The perimeter of the outside walls is about 12 km. The fortification has seven bastions or bulwarks (Eugene of Savoia, St. Stefan, The Trinity, St. Michael, St. Carol, St. Capistrano and St. Elisabeth) that make it into a star-shaped, Vauban-style fortress. The largest bulwark is the Trinity (116m on 132m). On the whole, the fortress stands out between the most important Baroque architectural ensemble in Romania and Europe.


The walls were made of bricks, quarry stones, or out of the Roman ruins, measuring 3 m at the base and 1.20 m at the top and being sustained by abutments. The fortress is outstanding both for its decorative elements and for the beauty of its gates, unique in European military architecture. The fortress has six gates, three towards the town and the other three towards the western training fields. The gates are richly adorned, decorated with statues and reliefs by sculptors like Johann König, Johann Vischer and Giuseppe Tencalla, and have been a model for the 18th century Transylvanian architecture. The gates are looked upon as extremely valuable samples of early and plastic figurative Baroque. Today, only three gates preserve the original look.

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