The Carolina Obelisk
The Carolina Obelisk is the first secular monument of Cluj, the others that were previously built in the city having religious significance. The monument was also known as the Carolina Pillar or tthe Carolina Statue (Hungarian: Karolina-oszlop) was built in 1831 as a monumental column.
In 1817, the Austrian Empress Carolina Augusta together with her husband, Emperor Franz I, paid a visit to Cluj, in order to strengthen the loyalty of subjects in this part of the empire. Following this visit, Cluj commenced a project to build a monument to celebrate the occasion.
The raising of the monument was initiated by Samuel Páll the primary mayor of the city. After the proposal received a favorable response from the emperor, on May 1, 1818 the Cluj council submitted to the Transylvanian Governate and Imperial Court five projects for approval, and during the following year they started the necessary fundraising.
Unfortunately, the lack of funds delayed the start of work. An important role in the construction of the monument involved the local prosecutor and renowned orator Imre Topler, who pledged to supplement the necessary funds and to coordinate the work. The monument was unveiled on October 4, 1831, during a solemn festival to celebrate the emperor’s name day.
Initially, the Carolina Obelisk was placed in what is today Piața Unirii (formerly Piața Mare). In 1898, the monument was moved in what is today Piața Muzeului (formerly Piața Mică or Piața Carolina Augusta) during the occasion of the renovation of the center, in order to make room for the statue of Matthias Corvinus, being with the support of the empress as the space was ideal for the obelisk.
The obelisk has a height of 10 m and 3 sides of the issues are reliefs of the imperial visit. The bas-reliefs represent the emblem of Cluj, a Latin inscription that recalls visit of the Austrian empress the entrance of the imperial procession through the Middle Gate of the city, and the visit to the City Hospital (Piața Muzeului 6). On the obelisk itself, the angel bearing effigies in a laurel wreath and the four stone eagles with laurels in their beaks are the work of two Clujeans – the sculptor Anton Csürös and art teacher Samuel Nagy, while the reliefs depicting moments from the emperor’s visit were created by the renowned professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the Viennese sculptor Josef Klieber (1773-1850).