I slept most of the way through the overnight trip across the Carpathians from Chisinau but I was nevertheless tired when the bus dropped me off here at 8:30 in the morning.
I took a room at the Pax hotel across the street from the train station and slept again until 13:00.
The history of Cluj-Napoca goes back to Dacian times before the Romans gave it the name of Napoca. Transylvania was settled in those times by Daco-Romans, the forebears of the Romanian people. The Magyar Székely tribe began to occupy Transylvania in the 10th century. German Saxons were later introduced by the Hungarian king Bela IV to defend it from Tatar raids. Since medieval times, the Romanian peasant majority was dominated most of the time by a privileged class of Hungarian and Germanic origin until Transylvania was finally joined with Romania after WW I. Northern Transylvania fell again under pro-Nazi Hungarian rule during WW II. Thousands of Romanian civilians were then tortured and many villages were razed.
That long foreign domination has left ill feelings in Cluj-Napoca that used to be called Klasenberg by the Germans and Kolozsvar by the Hungarians. This photo of Unirii Square shows the equestrian statue of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490), erected next to St Michael's Church in 1902 when Transylvania was still part of Hungary. In the foreground we see an open archaeological dig of some Roman ruins.
It is interesting to note how this apparently banal scene has become the focus of a bitter controversy between pro Hungary elements, who, nostalgic over the privileged position they once held, want the pit to be filled because it detracts from the Matthias statue and Romanian nationalists who want it to remain open as a visible proof of their Latin roots.
Here is a view of the western end of Lulu Maniu Str. with St Michael's Hungarian Reformed Church where services are held in Hungarian and Romanian.
And here is the eastern end of the same street with a glimpse of the Orthodox Cathedral that serves the Romanian majority.
Below left, another view of the Orthodox Cathedral on Avram Lancu Square and on the right, a shot of the Catholic Franciscan Church on Museum Square.
Here is the National Theatre and Opera on Stefan cel Mare Square (the great Romanian hero).
The broad Bulevardul Eroilor runs from Avram Lancu Square to Unirii Square.
This picture of the narrow Episcop Ioan Bob street gives you a good idea of the older parts of this charming city.
I took a few photos from the train window during the 4 hour trip from Cluj-Napoca to Oradea.
The small Romanian farms were modest but clean and well groomed.
Piles of manure waiting to be spread by hand.
The Vulturul Negru on Oradea's Piata Unirii is one of the most bizarre buildings I have ever seen. This impressive establishment, built in 1908, contains a shopping centre and mall, a cinema, a variety of bars and restaurants as well as a hotel where I was given a large room with a 15 foot ceiling for only 5.80 $US.
Most of it was definitely run down but I loved the place and was happy to see that it was being carefully restored to its former glory. The prices will undoubtedly rise to 5 star level when the restoration is complete so don't miss it while it's still a great bargain.
Below, the shopping mall and a view of the restoration work in progress.
Oradea's City Hall is just across Piata Unirii from the Vulturu Negru.
Also on Piata Unirii is this elegant Central Library and the Moon church shown below, at the end of this page.
Piata Republicii and the State Theatre Allami Szinhaz are on the other side of the Repede River.
Close by, the pedestrian Republicii Str. runs northward to the train station on Piata Bucuresti.
Below left, another view further north on Republicii Str. and on the right, a photo of the Orthodox Moon Church so called because of the mechanism in the tower that shows the moon's phases.
My short stay in Oradea was most pleasant, I found the people open and friendly, there were not too many tourists, the food was good and the prices quite reasonable. I have a feeling that this place will be crowded with tourists when it gets better known.