It was the richest experience of a afternoon. I had 4 hours to visit Alba Iulia and chose to visit the Alba Carolina Citadel.
I start walking, on the cobbled streets of the citadel, being more and more pleased with myself that I chose a day in the middle of the week for a walk. It is not the holiday season yet and I’m feeling lucky : I can make this visit at my own pace, without any rush.
I smile at the idea that I could be alone in the immensity of the fortress, I can admire every corner, every statue. I even lingered for more than 5 minutes at the royal busts at the entrance to the Orthodox Cathedral. And I almost made it as, at one point, I was walking inside the cathedral, admiring the paintings, alone. Just for a moment.
But as I was moving towards the cathedral gardens entrance, I could hear the rumble noise growing outside the walls. I had no idea that i was already in the eye of the storm. Kaboom – The different School Project.
As the student roaming waves were hitting the fortress entrance, i started slightly a short run, picking up the pace inside the Alba Carolina center. That much speed made me miss the St Michael cathedral but i kept it in mind for when I’ll go back.
Still having the feeling that I am being watched and that the chances of making 2581 pictures without people in the frame tend towards zero, I have already found myself in the middle of the polygon. Museums surround me but I know they will be taken by assault. And now what? I went for the gates leaving the museum visit next time.
I made it! I do not know how but, I managed to travel the crossed road. Running away from the sea of chaotic schoolchildren, I looked behind me toward the 4th gate which was actually the first and last visited. The first one because it is inevitable that you will not attract your gaze while trying to decide which of the two cathedrals to visit first. The one on the right side or the one on the left?
Etherway, whether you enter or leave, you must go through the last historical gate to reach the Roman Plateau.
As I said, I continued my refuge through the third gate, and the most beautiful one if i may say so myself. It is created in Baroque style, with three entrances. It comes with a triumph arch but it is so much more. And, at the same time, it represents the actual entry into the fort.
Passing through the gate, right in front, at the edge of the hill, is the Obelisk of Horea, Cloșca and Crișan. The monument is 28 m high and the statue of Victory from the base, has a slightly communist style. And yet, with or without the commy style, the monument seems to be sought by newly-weds or singers of folk music for wedding photos or videos. I even stood in line to admire the view. Really!
As I got down to the city, I passed the second gate, on the longest slope, at noon, right in the sun. In fact, I was really looking for an ATM, or the closest place to buy water. That much running has made me extremely thirsty. Even though, with the corner of my eye, I saw a terrace, beside the walls of the third gate.
In the end it turned out i didn’t need any ATM, i just gazed at the mini Arch of Triumph, which represents the first gate. Quite different, like gate number three, it also seems to represent the border between past and present.
Going back to the city made me recalculate my energy reserve to the terrace. In the meantime, looking for my phone in my bag, I discovered an energy bar. I was so happy to fiind that, so I passed by the terrace, being attracted to the pool with colored fish from the base of the wall. Attention span? 2 seconds.
Descending towards the fish, the road through the gardens arranged here and there, at the base of the fortress bastions, begun. I thought to myself, how much can it take for a walk in the garden? An hour and a half at an fast pace. Without watching the horses, without attending the sentinel changing and without stopping at the countless terraces and pubs in the bastions. I was like a puppy in training. With the thought of being rewarded, I was still walking down the corridors.
Anyhow, seven bastions later, i finally got to the koi pond. Loads of fun in there, tens of Japanese carps of all colors and sizes, all waiting for dinner. And this is where it happened.
The joy of the fish, in fact had nothing to do with my visit but with the arrival of the engineer. A gentleman, an elder, passed through many, walked through even more places, brings those fishes their for dinner for years, summer or winter time. According to his program, well established, the engineer walks, twice a day, every 2 hours through the fortress. Not so much for the fish as for his health.
He recommended walking as a lifestyle and walked me through the whole history of the city, systematically, just like an engineer. We spent the last part of the walk together, also visiting the small wooden church brought from the Apuseni Mountains.
We parted our ways on the bridge at the entrance, thanking each other for the company under the close supervision of their royal highness Queen Mary and King Ferdinand.
Looking at the clock, I headed to the parked car near the theology college, where I found a parking space earlier. True wonder! In 4 hours of stopping in Alba Iulia I saw the fortress, I learned some history, I visited the cathedrals, the bastions, the ditches, the fish and I made a new friend.
But I still owe you some Alba, I’ll be back!