MILITARY ENGINEER GARRISON
The Barracks of the Pioneers, „Franz Josef” unit, was built towards the final of the 19th century, between 1897 and 1898, on the eastern side of the citadel. Considerably large, the barracks meant building four main building bodies, displayed in a square, with a large inner courtyard. The buildings on the eastern and western sides are larger and identical in plans and size.
The complex always had a military destination. Before 1918, it belonged to the pioneers of the Austro-Hungarian army, and after that it was taken over by the Romanian Army (when the name was changed into „Charles I Barracks”) and used by the pioneers’ branch as well. This term was used in those times for the sappers unit, who were entrusted with the construction of strategic infrastructure such as bridges, dams and so on, as the military necessities dictated. It is worth mentioning that the barracks had a strategic importance for the preparation of the Union events on December 1st, 1918, because here were the deposits of the 7th Body of the (Austro-Hungarian) Army. By taking over the barracks by the Romanian National Guard (also named „Alba Iulia Legion”) it meant taking over the control over the citadel and the increase of the capabilities of endowing several national guards in the area, because uniforms and guns confiscated from the deposits of the barracks were sent to these national guards.
Presently, the complex placed on the eastern side, along with the buildings that used to be the old Bethlen College nearby, represents the only buildings inside the citadel still used by the army.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
The military engineer garrison was built between 1897 and 1898. The military unit received the name of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph.
The edifice was built on the entire eastern side of the citadel square on the site of a former monastery and church. When new buildings emerged independently on the four sides of the garrison, an ample inner courtyard was shaped.
During World War I, a large Austro-Hungarian military storehouse functioned there. In the autumn of 1918, the barracks were one of the first and most important military units in the Alba Iulia Citadel taken over by Romanian soldiers. The building became the headquarters of the National Guard, also known as the „Alba Iulia Legion”. The excellent management of the National Guard represented a further argument for which Alba Iulia was chosen as the venue for the National Assembly to decide the Union of Transylvania with Romania.
Following the 1918 Union, the building complex kept its military purpose, except that it hosted the Romanian army this time, and was called the Carol I Garrison. New Romanian units of military engineers were stationed there. They were known under different names over time.
Currently, the building is decommissioned and is owned by the Ministry of National Defense.