Cluj name has at its origin the Latin word Castrum Clus, used for the first time in XII century as the name of this castle. The word ‘Clus’ means ‘closed’ in Latin and it refers at the hills that circle the town. Another theory accepted was that the name’s origin is from the German word Klaus or Klause, meaning the passage between the mountains or barrage.
The city of Cluj Napoca, the heart of Cluj Department, is located in Transylvania’s center, in Romanian central-west region. It is circled by Apuseni Mountains, Somesan Plane and Transylvania’s Plane and the geographic unit is a depression. The city is roved by Somes River and the principles rivers of the department are Somesu Mic, Crisul Repede and Ariesul.
According the 2002 census, the city has 318 027 residents and a great number of students each year because it represents one of the most important academic and research centers from Romania.
The climate and the relief
Cluj Napoca is situated in the central area of Transylvania with a surface of 179,5 km². Located on the link between Apuseni Mountains, Somesan Plane and Transylvania’s Plane, the city is placed at the intersection of the parallel 46° 46' N with the meridian 23° 36' E. It extends on the valleys of Somes and Nadas Rivers, but also on the secondary carry-overs of Popesti, Chintau, Borhanci and Popii.
Toward the south-east it covers the superior terrace of the north part of Feleac Hill, being circled from three parts of hills with 500 and 825 m highness. To the south part there is Feleac Hill with 825 m with the peak Măgura Sălicei. To the east, the city covers Somesan Plane and to the north there are Cluj Hills with the peaks as Lombului (684 m), Dealul Melcului (617 m), Techintău (633 m).
To the west, there are other hills as Hoia (506m), Gârbău (570 m). Once outside of the city, now inside, Calvaria Hill and Cetatuia Hill.
The rivers that are passing the city are Someşul Mic and Nadăş and small rivers as Pârâul Ţiganilor, Canalul Morilor, Pârâul Popeşti, Pârâul Nădăşel, Pârâul Chintenilor, Pârâul Becaş, Pârâul Murătorii.
The area around the city is covered by the forest and greens. One can find rare plants as cypripedium, blue flag, strawberry etc. There are 2 known reservations as Fânaţele Clujului and Valea Morii.
In the reservation Fânaţele Clujului rare species are living as the hay viper. One can find a very rich flora at Botanical Garden, a place where there are also animals.
The metropolitan area Cluj Napoca is a territorial unit of planning, composed by the villages as Apahida, Cojocna, Suatu, Căianu, Jucu, Pălatca, Cluj, Bonţida, Dăbâca, Borşa, Chinteni, Aluniş, Corneşti, Panticeu, Vultureni, Aşchileu, Sânpaul, Baciu, Gârbău, Aghireşu, Căpuşu Mare, Gilău, Floreşti, Săvădisla, Ciurila, Feleacu, Aiton, Recea-Cristur and the city of Cluj-Napoca,the principal development pole of this unit.
Cluj climate is agreeable, moderate-continental. It is influenced by Apuseni Mountains on autumn and on winter, but also by West Atlantic influences. The passing by from winter to autumn is at the end of April and from the autumn to winter is in November. The summers are warm and the winters are in general without blizzard. The annual medium temperature from the air is 8,2 °C, and the average of the rain is 663 mm.
The first documentary attestation of a settlement on the Cluj territory was made by Greek Claudius Ptolemeu who had mentioned here one of the most important places from Dacia before the Romans named Napuca. After the Roman conquests from 101-102 and 105-106, Napuca was destroyed such as to start a new urban settlement (civitas), Napoca, on the right part of Samus River. This settlement was made in 124 after Jesus, having the name Municipium Aelium Hadrianum Napoca. After the retreat from Dacia of Roman administration in 271, the urban life which was once prosperous had ceased. The city was for attested in 1167 with the name „Castrum Clus“.
Important groups of sasi (Hungarian colonists) settled on Cluj castle during the king Stefan the fifth of Hungarian kingdom, after the ottoman invasion. The kingdom of Castrum Clus was urban organized in the XV century. When the Romano German emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg became the king of Hungary, he gave to Cluj the right to be a free town. Gradually, Cluj became a production and an exchange center where around 5 000 persons were working in agriculture, productions and other activities specifics to this town. At that moment, the population was formed by sasi, Germans and a small Romanian group.
The role of handicraft increased in this town and it had formed brotherhoods, that where very important for Matei Corvin, the king of Hungary between 1458 and 1459 which was born here. He gave 41 privileges for his native town, defending it by the conflicts with the neighbours. Concerning the population, he had decided to give the rights for the serfs to establish in the town.
Cluj castle earned until the XV century European recognition. European specific architecture, the late gothic style was in Romano-Catholic church Saint Michael but also in private houses. The rich children learned in the known schools in west. The habitants of this city haven’t participated at the Gheorghe Doja revolution from 1514 because they were having a good life level.
The trade and handcraft development had involved the limit of gentry and church power. A literate sas Gáspár Heltai concurred at the culture formation, but also at the city modernisation having a printing house, a public bath, a paper and a bier factory. Báthory dynasty contributed at the economic development bringing the castle at the same level as Brasov castle.
Another important character in Cluj history is Baba Novac, an important solder of Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Breave) who was judged and burnt in the castle.
Prince became the town protector and helped to its development. After the Hungarian conquers by the Ottomans, Transylvania became an autonomous under Ottoman sovereignty. At the end of the XVII century it had entered under Austrian sovereignty. After a force accord signed by Mihail Apafi, Cluj castle have had to lodge the duke of Lorena troupes that have hijacked the city and have demanded supplementary money.
With a number of 10660 people, the castle transformed Transylvania capital, that brought its modernisation, but also a great number of habitants. The revolutionary movements from 1848 embraced Cluj even if it have had a contradictory status because of the gentry. The town was the witness of Nicolae Balcescu and Cezar Bollic parley for Romanian and Hungarian Revolution. Hungarian conquers brought the absolutist regime, so the capital was moved to Sibiu for Austrian influence on the authorities.
Later, Cluj became one of the six Transylvanian districts, managing 400 000 habitants. In the second half of the XIX century, the main building of the university Francisc Iosif was built in Cluj. At the beginning of XX century the main centre buildings where built. In this time, Unitarian High school, Romanian Opera, Justice Palace, the city hall and Finance Palace buildings have been built.
After the “Ausgleich” (compromise) that the Austria-Hungarian was constituted in 1867, Cluj and Transylvania where readmitted in Hungarian Kingdom. In this period, the town was the second as size after Budapest and the residence of Cluj County.
After the First World War, Transylvania was a part of Romanian Kingdom. In 1940, according to the Vienna agreement, Cluj became a Hungarian part so Hungarian and German troupes controlled the city. After, these troupes were rejected by Soviet troupes and in 1947, according to Paris treated, Cluj entered again in Romanian administration.
In 1941, Cluj had a population of 16 763 Jews. After Transylvania conquer by Horthyst government in 1944, they where put in Jewry in very bad conditions. The Jewry liquidation was made in 6 transportations to Auschwitz in May-June 1944. In spite of tough sanctions of Horthy administration a lot of Jews had managed to escape, passing the border to Romania. From here, they have leaved to Europe to Constanta port. Other Jews originary from European countries have being helped to leave Europe by an anti Nazis group helped by politician from Cluj and Bucharest. The leader of this network 1943-1944 was the writer Raoul Sorban, which had received a Wright Title between people for his efforts.
After 1945, Cluj was governed by the Communists until December 1989. In 1974, the Communist authorities have changed the name in Cluj-Napoca. After the Revolution, for 12 months the rightist politician Gheorghe Funar was mayor that was known for a lot of act against Hungarian minority from Cluj. In June 2004, Emil Boc (the Democrat Party) was elected and installed the good interethnic relations between the local communities.