The modern city is located near the site of the important Dacian political, economic and social centre of Apulon, which was mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy and believed by some archaeologists to be the Dacian fortifications on top of Piatra Craivii. After Dacia became a province of the Roman Empire, the capital of Dacia Apulensis was established here, and the city was known asApulum. Apulum was the largest city in Roman Dacia and was the seat of the XIII Gemina Legion. Apulum is the largest castrum located in Romania, occupying 37.5 hectares (93 acres) (750 x 500 m2).
Alba Iulia became the capital of the Principality of Transylvania in 1541, and remained so until 1690. The Treaty of Weissenburg was signed in the town in 1551. During the reign of Prince Gabor Bethlen, the city reached a high point in its cultural history with the establishment of an academy. Further important milestones in the city’s development include the creation of the Batthyanaeum Library in the 18th century and the arrival of the railway in the 19th century. The former Turkish equivalent was “Erdel Belgradı” (“Belgrade of Transylvania” in Turkish) where Erdel (Erdély) was added to prevent confusion with Belgrat and Arnavut Belgradı (“Albanian Belgrade” in Turkish, early name of Berat during Ottoman rule).
In November 29, 1599, Michael the Brave, Voivode of Wallachia, entered Alba Iulia following his victory in the Battle of Şelimbăr and became Voivode of Transylvania. In 1600 he gained control of Moldavia, uniting the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania under his rule, which lasted for a year and a half until he was murdered in 1601, by General Giorgio Basta’s agents. The fortress Alba Carolina, designed by architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, was built between 1714 and 1738, at the behest of Emperor Charles VI of Habsburg.
Twentieth and twenty-first centuries
At the end of World War I, representatives of the Romanian population of Transylvania—the exact number is disputed between Romanian and Hungarian historians—and representatives of the Transylvanian Saxons gathered in Alba Iulia on 1 December 1918 to proclaim the union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. In 1922, Ferdinand of Romania was symbolically crowned King of Romania in Alba Iulia. In October 2012—the 90th anniversary of King Ferdinand’s coronation—his great-granddaughter Princess Margarita of Romaniavisited Alba Julia to commemorate the event.