Built in 1900, the building served in its first phase of existence as a military casino, the festive area for the receptions of the Austro-Hungarian Army. The building was also named „the military circle” or the „military casina”. For the December 1st, 1918 event, it was chosen to be the area for the manifestation regarding the Great National Union because it was the most spacious building in the city, the only one that could gather under its roof all the 1228 delegates of the Romanian nation.
On the other hand, Alba Iulia was chosen for the Great National Union that was about to declare the union of Transylvania with the rest of Romania according to two main reasons: the first – the city was seen as the symbol of the union under Michael the Brave; the second – in Alba Iulia there was a well-organized national guard, capable of protecting the city if necessary, because Transylvania was passing through tensed period in the weeks that followed the end of the First World War.
Besides the official events, over 100,000 people wanted to be here for that quintessential day for the faith of Transylvania. Anyway, the 1228 official delegates of the Romanian nation, present in the building that was to be named „the Union Hall”, were representing the entire Transylvania from all points of view: geographically, socially, professionally, religiously and politically. The central moment of the December 1st event was at 12 o’clock – the reading of Union Resolution and its adoption in unanimity. The text of the resolution was then engraved on the interior wall of the Union Hall. The first article announced that: „The National Union of the Romanian in Transylvania, Banat and the Hungarian Country, gathered by means of their rightful representatives in Alba Iulia on the day of November 18th/December 1st, 1918, declare the union of those Romanians, and of all territories inhabited by them, with Romania”. Also, in the Union Hall, other fundamental texts were engraved: the law through which Romania, by the authority of king Ferdinand, consecrated the Union, as well as the Proclamation of the entrance of Romania into the war in 1916.
Even more, for the coronation in 1922, the hall was consistently embellished, an arch was added and a monumental portal at the entrance shaped as an arch of triumph decorated with laurel leafs, portal that gives the entire edifice a solemn aspect. Under the arcade there is an inscription in Latin that speaks about what was accomplished in 1918: „ANNO DOMINI MDCCCCXVIII KALENDIS DEMBRIIS HOC LOCO / UNIO TRANSILVANIAE / UNIVERSA CUM DACO ROMANIA / SOLLENNI ET UNANIMO POPULII VOTO IN PERPETUUM ATQUE / IREVOCABILITER PROCLAMATA EST CUIUS REI MEMORIA / SEMPITERNA SIT” (“in the year of the Lord 1918, on December 1st, in this place was proclaimed for all eternity and irrevocably, by the solemn an unanimous desire of the people, the union of Transylvania with the entire Daco-Romania. May the memory of this event be eternal). The idea that the text of this inscription was written by the great historian Nicolae Iorga, is fake. It was formulated by another historian, Ioan Lupas, history professor at the University in Cluj-Napoca. The grammar errors („Decembriis”, „populii”, „irevocabiliter”) were made by the carver/engraver or by someone else, because Lupas sent the text in a correct form.
The building was organized as an exhibition area in 1967-1968 when the semi-centenary of the Union was celebrated. Another improvement, a smaller one, was done in 1994. An important project for the rehabilitation of the Union Hall is foreseen for the year 2018, the year of the centenary.
The main hall hosts an exhibition dedicated to the 1918 moment. The pieces in that exhibition have a special value and bear a certain charge that make the spirit of every Romanian vibrate. The desk of the lawyer Aurel Lazar, for example, is telling the story of the first moment that preceded the Union, that is to say the writing of the Declaration of Self Determination of the Romanians in Transylvania, on October 12th, 1918. The declaration was to be read on October 18th by Alexandru Vaida-Voievod in the Parliament in Budapest and to mark the direction on which the Romanians from Transylvania were about to proceed, the total separation from Hungary and the preparations for the accomplishment of the union with Romania.
Within the exhibition one can see the different marks of the participants to the union, flags, medals, credentials (representation mandates) of the official representatives of the Romanian Nation, plans for defending the city. The camera used for the five photos of the union is also part of the exhibition. The unofficial photographer of the day was Samoila Marza, war veteran who came here with the delegation from Galtiu village. The odds were that Samoila Marza was the only one who had a camera from all the 100,000 participants to the union. These photos can be seen in the union Hall exhibition, testimony for the participation of an endless sea of people at this event. Unfortunately, Samoila Marza did not participate to the official act that was performed inside the building that will be later called „the Union Hall”, but he stood outside, with the crowd, on Horea’s field, outside the walls of the city.
In front and behind the Hall there is a gallery of 21 busts of the significant personalities of the 1918 event, politicians, officers, representatives of culture and clergy.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
The Union Hall is one of the most important buildings in Romania. It is the place where the union of Transylvania with Romania was concluded in 1918. It is no exaggeration to say that this is a place of remarkable symbolic value, pilgrimage and introspection.
Are you wondering why the meeting of the Great National Assembly was held precisely here? Because this was the most spacious building in Alba Iulia at that time and the only one that could house 1,228 Romanian delegates on December 1st, 1918. They represented the entirety of Transylvania, geographically, socially, professionally, religiously and politically. The central moment of the meeting was the reading of the „Union Resolution” by Vasile Goldiș. Subsequently, the fundamental act was adopted unanimously by those present. The key document of the Union is engraved on the inner wall of the Hall.
The central space of the hall is dedicated to the 1918 moment where tourists can see insignia that belonged to delegates that attended the union: flags, medals, credentials, and documents which were used to access to the Union Hall.
Aurel Lazer’s law office in Arad talks about the moment of drawing up the Declaration of Self-determination (12 October 1918) – the first big step towards accomplishing the union of Transylvania with Romania. A few days later, the declaration was read in the Budapest Parliament; the document paved the way for Romanians in Transylvania for the coming period: complete separation from Hungary and the preparation for future steps to achieve the Union with Romania.
The main hall also exhibits Samoilă Mârza’s camera, which was used to capture five emblematic photographs of the union. Samoilă Mârza was the only person of the over 100,000 Romanians present in Alba Iulia who was in possession of a camera so that he would subsequently be called the „Union’s photographer”.
However, why do we have only pictures from the outside with the crowds and official tribunes? Samoilă Mârza had no access to the Union Hall because he was not the official photographer of the event. Even so, the importance of his photographs is overwhelming. The images were also used to demonstrate how democratic the union’s act was.
The historical significance of the hall for 1918 is marked above the hall’s entrance by a Latin quote from the historian Ioan Lupaș: „In the year of the Lord 1918, on the 1st of December, here it was forever and irrevocably proclaimed, by solemn and unanimous voting of the people, the union between Transylvania with Daco-Romania. May the remembrance of this act be eternal.”
Inside the hall you can find an impressive gallery of 21 busts of the most important representatives of 1918: politicians, soldiers, servicemen, church and cultural representatives.
Built in 1900, the edifice initially served as a military casino. It was a place for ceremonies and receptions held by the Austro-Hungarian army. Following the union, the hall was significantly improved in order to be ready for the royal banquet which followed the Coronation of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie in 1922. 50 years after the union, the building is transformed into an exhibition space. Considering that 2018 marks 100 years from the Union of Transylvania with Romania, a major project is planned to rehabilitate the Union Hall.