Kolozsvár (Klausenburg, Cluj) was the historical center and the most important town of Transylvania, the birthplace of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus. Now it is in Romania. It was not one of the seven fortified Saxon cities that gave Transylvania its German name of “Siebenbürgen” but it was populated by Saxons and Hungarians alike.
Prince Bocskai István was also born here. Its first fort was built in the 10th century but was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1241. The 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 15th century. The various guilds of the city were in charge of the assigned bastions and walls.
The first Hungarian mention of the city is from 1257, as “Kulusuar”. King Zsigmond made the city a free royal town in 1405. The town was taken by the rebelling peasant troops of Budai Nagy Antal in 1437 for a short time.
Half of the inhabitants of the town were Saxon and half of them were Hungarians in the 15th century. Lord Szilágyi Mihály ordered in 1458 that the city should be led by 50 Hungarian and 50 Saxon men. King Matthias Corvinus beheaded the plotting nobles in the city in 1468.
The walls of the city were built in 1470. The rebels led by Priest Lőrinc were defeated next to the city in 1514. Prince Bocskai was born here in 1557. Kolozsvár became a very important city of the Transylvanian Principality. Queen Isabella, the widow of King Szapolyai János was crowned here in 1551.
Prince Báthori István beheaded the plotters against him in 1575 on its main square. Similarly, Prince Báthori Zsigmond beheaded the plotting nobles also here in 1594.
Transylvania’s first university was founded here in 1585. Altogether there have been 37 Diets held in the city. Prince Székely Mózes minted the best and nicest gold coins in Kolozsvár in 1603. The town was in its heyday during Prince Bethlen’s period when Transylvania was called a “Fairy Garden.”
Kolozsvár was called similarly the “Treasure-house Kolozsvár”. Both Prince Bethlen Gábor and Prince Rákóczi György I. were elected here to be Princes. The first university of Transylvania was established here by Prince Báthori in 1585. Its Jesuit professors in 1603 were unfortunately chased away and so the university closed its gates.
Prince Bethlen Gábor issued a document here in favor of the Jewish inhabitants all over Transylvania in 1623 which permitted them to settle freely, trade freely and practice their religion freely, without the obligation of wearing the distinctive marks for the Jewish. The town was under siege in 1661 by Kemény János and in 1662 by Prince Apafi. It opened its gates before the Habsburgs’ troops in 1687 without resistance. The city became Transylvania’s capital only in 1790.
Here are many pictures of Kolozsvár: