October 23, 2017
October 23, 2017


The Coronation Cathedral is the first important religious site built in Transylvania after the 1918 Union. The Orthodox Place of Worship was erected specifically for the coronation of the King Ferdinand and Queen Maria, as monarchs of united Romania, on 15 October 1922. The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid on 28 March 1921 and the construction works lasted about 9 months.

From an architectural perspective, the cathedral was built in the Neo-Brâncovenesc style – the national architectural trend promoted during the debut decades of the twentieth century. Both the 52-meter-high bell tower and the tower of the Catholic Cathedral dominate the city view seen from afar The Orthodox bell tower is about three meters shorter than the Catholic one. The entrance is made under the bell tower which is guarded by two busts representing King Ferdinand and Queen Maria (a recently added sculptural ensemble).

The plan is an inscribed Greek cross – specific to Orthodox ecumenical or episcopal churches – which draws upon the Târgovişte Princely church, with an impressive central dome resting on four red marble columns.

The porch’s niches display marble plates commemorating four historical events of Alba Iulia: the union of the three Romanian principalities achieved by Michael the Brave in 1600; printing the New Testament from Bălgrad; the uprising of Horea, Cloşca and Crişan and the moment of „reunification”. The latter refers to the restoration of spiritual and religious unity of Romanians in Transylvania (1948), when the Greek-Catholic Church was abolished, and the Greek Catholic clergy and parishioners were forced to embrace Orthodoxy – hence the name of the Reunification Cathedral.

The portraits of the founders of the first Orthodox Metropolis in Alba Iulia, Mihai Viteazul and Mrs. Stanca, are painted in the cathedral’s narthex. On both sides of the entrance to the central nave, there are the portraits of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary, dressed in the garments worn at the crowning ceremony in Alba Iulia. The pictorial decoration depicts classical themes of Orthodox iconography and bears the signature of Costin Petrescu, who is recognized in Europe as a master of the fresco.

The architectural ensemble comprises pavilions which are located around the inner courtyard and host the headquarters of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Alba Iulia, which has jurisdiction over the churches in the Alba and Mureş counties.

Within the galleries surrounding the inner courtyard, you can also see archaeological pieces which date from the Roman period until the eighteenth century. The pieces were stored here since the city’s museum functioned in the eastern wing of the ensemble.

The most important event that was organized here was the Coronation of 15 October 1922, which was attended by representatives of royal or imperial houses, officials and political figures from all over the world – reflecting the Romania’s prestige at that time. The actual coronation took place in front of the bell tower under a sumptuous canopy. The event was also attended by 20,000 peasants from all over the country; moreover, 40,000 soldiers of all branches provided a troop parade. King Ferdinand’s message to the crowds emphasized the importance of the act that symbolized the „union of all the countries inhabited by Romanians”. We can say that the 1918 Union Act was concluded both officially and celebratory by the Crowning of King Ferdinand in Alba Iulia.