All buildings on the southern side of the citadel were part of the same complex that was used as the bishop’s headquarters during medieval times and as residence of the Transylvanian princes after the mid-sixteenth century. After the imperial army occupied Transylvania, turning Alba Iulia into a garrison, the eastern buildings of the old Princely Palace were taken over by the army, and the western ones returned to the Catholic Diocese. Currently, these buildings have housed the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alba Iulia since 1991 when the Diocese became Archdiocese.
During older periods, it is believed that the palace was linked with the cathedral through two southern portals of the place of worship. In 1736, the current episcopal palace was separated by demolition from its eastern wing and other wings which had been added in the 17th century and owned by Austrian Military headquarters. An extensive reconstruction of the palace was carried out starting with 1786, at the initiative of the famous Bishop Ignatius Batthyány. When the building was restored, some tripartite windows which dated back to the 16th century were removed. Several elements of the edifice were put in value following the latest restoration works of the complex.
In 2009, on the occasion of the Millennial Jubilee of the Archdiocese, the palace started to offer a museum collection, the only visiting point of the complex a spectacular museum collection to the public, the only visiting point of the complex.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
The Roman-Catholic Archbishop’s Palace is located in the south-western corner of the citadel, in the immediate vicinity of the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The history of the palace is closely linked to that of the prestigious institution that has been established here for centuries: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Alba Iulia which became the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alba Iulia in 1991. It’s difficult to mark the earliest times of the palace. The first documentary reference that remind of the Palace’s existence dates back to 1287. The edifice, the bishop’s residence, was built at the same time with the cathedral in the immediate vicinity.
All buildings on the southern side of the citadel originally belonged to the same complex which was used as the bishop’s headquarters. The status of the complex changed in the middle of the sixteenth century, when Alba Iulia became the capital of the Principality of Transylvania. When the episcopal assets were secularized, the building passed into the ownership of Queen Isabella, John Sigismund’s mother, that is, after the middle of the 16th century, the edifice became the residence of the Transylvanian princes. Its function changed at the end of the 17th century, when Transylvania came under Habsburg rule. The new owners divided the buildings: the eastern courtyard of the old Princely Palace returned to the army, and the western courtyard to the Catholic Diocese. The Catholic Bishop returned here in 1715.
In 1736, the current episcopal palace was separated by demolition from its eastern wing and other wings which had been added in the 17th century.
During older periods, it is believed that the eastern wing of the palace was linked with the cathedral upstairs, through a passage.
The palace today is the result of centuries of transformations and expansions. Recent works of restoration have highlighted frames of doors and windows of the Renaissance. The restorers have also highlighted elements of the window gallery with openings in three separate registers dating back to the 16th century.
Currently, the palace’s square plan encloses an inner courtyard in the middle of which there is the statue of the confessor bishop Márton Áron. It hosts the Roman-Catholic Archdiocese of Alba Iulia. Interested public can visit a spectacular museum collection, the only visiting point in the complex.
Due to its history and architecture, the Palace is listed on the most important monuments of Alba Iulia.