KOLOZSVÁR has been inhabited since the early Stone Age. Using the remains of an older Dacian fort, the Romans built a town in 124 A.D., called Napoca. The Rumanian authorities, in a pursuit of their dream of being the descendants of the Romans, they renamed Kolozsvár to Napoca, after the ancient town from the are of the Roman Empire.
Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca, Rumania today) was actually built by the Saxon settlers from Germany, who were brought in Transylvania by Hungarian king Géza II (1141-1162) of the House of Árpád, in the 13th century. The town started to develop under the reign of the Hungarian kings, and in the 15th century, it was surrounded by walls. On 23 February, 1440, Matthias Hunyadi, son of János Hunyadi, was born in Kolozsvár. (János Hunyadi was the Hungarian legendary defender of the country against the Ottoman (Turkish) invasion, the military commander, whom the pope called the Savior of Christianity; and his son, Matthias Hunyadi later became the finest Hungarian king (1458-1490), who brought in Hungary the renaissance culture from Italy, and finished what his father started : the build-up of a powerful defense system around the southern borders of Hungary which could successfully hold up the increasing Turkish attacks.)
Kolozsvár quickly became a central commercial city, the capital of Transylvania, where the Hungarian princes and governors held 70 diets (sessions of the parliaments). The town had gone through numerous devastating periods, i.e., Turkish and the Tartars raids, but is always could recover from the hits.
In 1551, Hungarian queen Isabel gave here possession of the Holy Hungarian crown to the envoy of Habsburg Ferdinand I; in1660, István Bocskai here took his oath and became governor of Transylvania; in 1613, Gábor Bethlen was elected here as the governor of Transylvania. When the Habsburg troops occupied Kolozsvár, they made the Nagyszeben (Sibiu) the capital of Transylvania, but it was later returned to Kolozsvár.
In 1848, the unification of the independent Transylvania with the Kingdom of Hungary was also declared here, and after the Compromise of 1867 , the political importance of Kolozsvár declined but, at the same time, it grew into a major cultural and scientific town. In 1872, Hungarian count Imre Mikó (1805-1876) offered his own chateau and property to establish the University of Kolozsvár, which was later named after the scientists Farkas and János Bólyai.
[Saint Michael church]
Saint Michael

[Entrance of the St. Michael church]
west entrance

The Saint Michael church on the main square of Kolozsvár. The construction of this beautiful gothic church started in the 14th century and finished in the 15th century. The church has served not only as a religious center but fulfilled an important cultural and political role as well. Funerals of major Hungarian political figures, such as István Bocskai, Prince of Transylvania, leader of the Bocskai Liberation Fight were held here, but forthcoming Princes of Transylvania, such as Gábor Bethlen were also elected here.
Above the porch of the west entrance of the Saint Michael church, the Coat of Arms of Hungarian king, German-Roman emperor Sigismund (1387-1437) can be seen, also the figure of Saint Michael Archangel killing the dragon.
This magnificent 50-meter-long, 3-aisle church stands on the square overlooking the equestrian statue of Hungarian king Matthias in the front, and, with its 80-meter high tower, the church and the Matthias statue form a complex which has grown itself into an ethnic and cultural stronghold for the Hungarians in Transylvania, which, in a way, symbolizes the presence and the inherent right of the Hungarians for Transylvania, as the first nation in that land.
[King Matthias, 1458-1490]
The equestrian statue of King Matthias, the Hungarian renaissance king (1458-1490) stands in front of the Saint Michael churc. The sculpture, by János Fadrusz, was erected in 1902 and stands in the front of the Saint Michael church on the main square of Kolozsvár. Since this statue poses as a national and ethnic symbol for the Hungarians in Transylvania, the chauvinistic Rumanian administration made several attempts to destroy it using all sorts of reasons. The lates being "... archeological excavations are necessary underneath the statue in search for proofs of Vlach (i.e., Rumanian) origins in Transylvania ...", in 1994. [King Matthias, 1458-1490]
[Reformed church]

[St. George]
St. George

The Reformed (i.e., Presbyterian) church, which stands on Farkas street near downtown Kolozsvár, once belonged to the Minoriter Order and was founded by king Matthias. After the Protestant movement, it became a Calvinist (i.e., Reformed) church. The construction of the church started in 1486, in gothic style, and lasted till the first half of the 15th century. The church used to have a tower and a monastery building, but both were torn down in the 1640's.
The single-nave, 34-meter-long church received a very nice carved wood renaissance pulpit, and pews in the 17th century. The sepulchre of the Apafi dynasty, Hungarian governors of Transylvania, is in the apse. The stone carving is the work of Károly Kósa.
The statue of Saint George killing the dragon stands in front of the Reformed (i.e., Presbyterian) church on Farkas street, . The statue is by the Hungarian Kolozsvári brothers, Márton and György Kolozsvári, who were outstanding sculptors of the gothic sculpture of Europe. This is a replica of the original one, made in 1373, which is now in the castle of Prague in the Czech Republic.
[Kolozsmonostor] KOLOZSMONOSTOR is in the outskirts of Kolozsvár. The Benedictine monastery and abbey of Kolozsmonostor is of great importance. Founded by Hungarian king Béla I, (1059-1063), the monastery served several times as a signing place for peace during the peasant-uprising led by Antal Budai-Nagy, in 1437. The original church was completely destroyed during the centuries, only the apse, built in the 14th century, remained. The church was rebuilt in neo-gothic style.


Images and text supplied by András Szeitz, unless otherwise indicated.

Hungarian Images and Historical Background
© 1994 András Szeitz
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