1400AD-Present-Modern Era Europe Romania Museums, Art galleries, Museum pieces

Alba Carolina Citadel: Everything you need to know

Inside the Alba Carolina Citadel from Alba Iulia, Romania, you will find green gardens full of flowers, restaurants and terraces, museums, archeological parks and the two cathedrals that dominate the western part of the fortress, the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Coronation Cathedral.

Tourist Information

TypeFortress, Citadel
Construction Year1715
TicketsAdmission to the Alba Carolina Citadel is free
Visiting HoursThe citadel is open day and night for walks.
Check the schedule of museums, restaurants and cafes inside.
LocationAlba Iulia, Romania, Europe


History of Alba Carolina Citadel

Alba Carolina bastion fortification is the largest fortress in Romania, which has been standing for more than 300 years. 

The Alba Carolina Citadel incorporates the Roman Camp of the XIII Gemina Legion from 106 AD and the Medieval Fortress Bălgrad from the 16th-17th centuries. The beginnings of the evolution of building a fortress in the area of ​​Alba Iulia are closely related to the presence of a Dacian fortress located at Piatra Craivii.

Inside the Alba Carolina fortress, you will find green gardens full of flowers, restaurants and terraces, museums, archeological parks, and the two cathedrals that dominate the western part of the fortress, the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Coronation Cathedral.

The uniqueness of the Citadel is given by the succession of the six gates, located on an east-west axis. This east-west road is called the Tourist Route of the Citadel Gates.

The fortress has an area of 110 hectares and is surrounded by three rows of walls.

The fortress is star-shaped with seven corners, has seven bastions, and is surrounded by deep ditches. The 7-star shape is called The Vauban style and is a way of building fortifications. The name goes to the French Marshal de Vauban himself, who designed this system.

The walls of the bastions are 2.5 meters thick, and the height exceeds 10 meters.

The Ditch of the Citadel

You can walk along the ditch. The ditch of the fortress is 2.6 km long.

There is also the possibility to rent bicycles or electric scooters. There is also a minibus that you can take in front of the 3rd Gate and that makes the tour of the ditch of the fortress.


You can go down the ditch through the east side next to gates 1, 2, and 3, through the west side near the Unirii bridge or you can get directly into the ditch by entering through gate 7.


The Bastions

Starting from the Third Gate to the left, clockwise the names of the Bastions St. Eugene, St. Stephen, Trinity, St. Michael, St. Carol, St. Elizabeth, St. Capistrano (later the Bastion of Transylvania)
The bastions have a height of 12 meters, thus reaching a perimeter of the walls of 12 kilometers.

The Gates

The 1st Gate

The 1st Gate of the fortress is the gate with representations from Greek mythology.

This gate is the first one you pass through if you come from the east of Alba Iulia.

The 1st Gate, Alba Carolina, Romania
The 1st Gate

The 2nd Gate

The 2nd Gate is located on the road that leads from the first gate to the third gate, at the top of a sloping street that was meant to make it difficult for potential invaders to enter the fortress.

The 2nd Gate, Alba Carolina Citadel, Romania
The 2nd Gate

The 3rd Gate

The 3rd Gate of Alba Carolina Citadel is also known as “Horea’s Gate” because, on the top of the gate, there is a cell in which it is said that Horea was imprisoned. The cell can be visited as part of the circuit “The Route of the 3 Fortifications”.

The 3rd Gate Alba Carolina Citadel Romania
The 3rd Gate

The 4th Gate

The 4th Gate of the Alba Carolina Citadel is also called Bishop’s Gate. The 4th Gate is the only ornate gate on the west side.

The 4th gate, Alba Carolina, Romania
The 4th gate

The 5th Gate

The 5th Gate is simple. In the past, the gate was used by the soldiers to exit the training field.

The 5th Gate, Alba Carolina
The 5th Gate

The 6th Gate

The 6th Gate is the gate through which King Ferdinand and Queen Maria entered the Citadel when they were crowned, in 1922.

The 6th Gate, Alba-Carolina-Citadel
The 6th Gate

The 7th Gate

The 7th Gate is located in the north part of the fortress. It was closed for 300 years and during the restoration works the gate was reopened and can be used.

The 7th Gate, Alba Carolina
The 7th Gate

Historical monuments

The equestrian statue of Michael the Brave

The statue was erected in memory of the 50th anniversary of the Great Union of Transylvania with Romania.

The statue is located in the center of the Alba Carolina Citadel in front of The Princely Palace of Alba Iulia.


The obelisk of Horea, Closca and Crisan

The imposing Horea, Closca, and Crisan Obelisk dominate the entire eastern part of Alba Iulia, reminiscent over time of the martyred heroes of the 1785 revolt, Horea, Closca, and Crisan.

Horea, Closca and Crisan Obelisk, Alba Citadel

The Lossenau Monument

The monument has the shape of a pyramidal turret, adorned with neo-Gothic elements, and is dedicated to Colonel Ludwig Losy von Losenau.

Lossenau Monument, Alba Carolina, Romania
Lossenau Monument


Coronation Cathedral

To admire the grandeur and beauty of Coronation Cathedral, it is best to enter the Alba Carolina Citadel by stepping on the Union Bridge. After passing through the iron gate, the beautiful and imposing church surrounded by gardens will be revealed to you.

Coronation Cathedral_Alba_Carolina_Romania
Coronation Cathedral

Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Michael

1000 years. That’s how long it has been since the first stone was laid to build the Roman Catholic Cathedral St Michael. The Cathedral is located inside the Alba Carolina Citadel and is the oldest and the longest cathedral in Romania.

Roman-Catholic Cathedral St Michael, Alba Carolina
Cathedral St Michael

Among the funerary monuments, we mention the sarcophagi of the voivode Iancu de Hunedoara, of his brother Ioan and his son Ladislau; those of Prince John Sigismund Zapolya and Queen Isabella; the epitaphs of the architects of the citadel Giovanni Morando Visconti and Francisco Brilli.

Museums, palaces and other buildings

Union Museum

Visiting Hours:

  • Monday, Easter, Christmas, New Year, and other Romanian Holidays: Closed
  • Tuesday – Sunday – 10:00 – 19:00 (the last entry: 18:30)
  • Normal ticket price: 10 RON

The building that houses the Union Museum is called Babylon and was built for military use.

The building that houses the Union Museum is called Babylon and was built for military use.

The museum’s collection has about 200,000 heritage objects, and the library holds about 70,000 volumes.

The most important piece of the museum is the six volumes of the Great Union.

Union Museum Alba

Union Hall

Here took place the most important event of the country the Great Union. In this hall, the act of union was signed on December 1, 1918, which joined Romania with Transylvania.


Principia Museum

Visiting Hours

  • Monday, Easter, Christmas, New Year, and other Romanian Holidays: Closed
  • Tuesday – Sunday – 09:00 – 19:00
  • Normal ticket price: 10 Ron

The Principia Museum is located in Alba Carolina Citadel Square. It is the place where you can see part of the building of the Roman Camp from Apulum, more than 1900 years old.

Principia Museum, Alba Iulia, Romania
Principia Museum


Museikon is a new museum of the icon that revitalizes a restored historical monument building in Alba Iulia.

Visiting program

  • January, February: Wednesday-Sunday, 10.00-17.00
  • March-December: Tuesday-Sunday, 10.00-19.00
  • Normal Ticket Price: 10 RON

Palace of the Princes

This was the princely residence, from the 16th century, and for a short period of 11 months, in the years 1599 and 1600, the building served as the residence of the voivode Mihai Viteazul.

The palace is located in the center of Alba Carolina, behind the statue of Michael the Brave, and is currently under renovation.


Batthyaneum Library

The library’s fame is also given by the fact that it holds part of the most famous medieval manuscript, the Evangelist of Lorsch, known especially as the Codex Aureus. This gospel was written in gold letters on fine sheets of parchment, painted in gold, and had ivory covers.

Batthyaneum Library, Alba Iulia, Romania
Batthyaneum Library

The manuscript was made between 778 and 820, during the time of Carol the Great.

Apor Palace

The Apór Palace was built by Baron Ștefan Apór, one of the richest Transylvanians, former treasurer of the principality, and head of customs in Transylvania. The place is located on the north side of the fortress, in line with the Batthyaneum Library.

Apor Palace, Alba Carolina, Romania
Apor Palace


PUB 13 – Cetatii Restaurant, Aleea Capistrano no. 1, Hours: 12.00 – 23.00

One of the best restaurants in Alba Iulia. It is built on the walls of the fortress, the restaurant inside is decorated in medieval style, has a very interesting terrace on a bridge that connects the walls, and has good food. We ate here every day for lunch. It is very close to the 3rd Gate and Horea, Cloșca and Crișan Obelisk.

PUB 13_Cetatii Restaurant

Gothic Restaurant – St Eugeniu Street, Alba Iulia, Opening Hours: 11:00 – 22:00


About the author


I am Catalina, and my passion for travel, mysteries, legends and archaeology drives me to explore the world and uncover its hidden wonders.