Piata Unirii is the center and main symbol of Cluj. It is from here that the most important roads of the city begin and end. Despite the numerous things it has represented over several centuries, today it is the main source of torment for drivers due to its urban traffic. One can not get from one corner of the city to the other without passing through this square.
The square’s rectangular shape was probably formed between the 13th and the 14th centuries. The lines of houses on the east and west sides were defined by the main roads in the southern part of Hajongardului Hill and to the north by the already existing walls of the Old Fortress, with the commercial road heading in an east-west direction. Initially, in front of the old city gate was a large space for a market that until the mid 19th century were known as Piata Mare (opposed to Piata Mica in the old fortress).
The centrally located church building was surrounded for centuries by a stone wall, where the kiosks and counters of merchantmen were located, there was even a storey building which functioned as a school. Inside the wall, at the cemetery, the dead were received by the centuries. Piata Unirii or Piata Mare was transformed into an ornamental market in the late 19th century.
The church was freed from the grip of the buildings, which were replaced by a park surrounded by a decorative wrought iron picket fence. The market moved in front of the south wall of the church , and in 1902 the statue of Matthias Corvinus, who was born in Cluj, was raised. In front of the statue were arranged flowerbeds. The sidewalk in front of the houses was paved, ready-made for walking. The surrounding road was covered with granite slabs, on which the city notables rode in their carriages with loaded carts, and even riders “distinguished themselves.”
All of the square’s buildings are artistic monuments, where the memory of centuries are maintained, although the facades were made mostly during the latter part of the 19th century or early 20th century. Today, city institutions have tried to find a place here and prestigious families have built houses. Piata Unirii is dominated by St. Michael’s Cathedral while the statue fo Matthias Corvinus has become a significant symbol and a point of reference for the square, and of course – the city.
Information given by Mr. Gaal György.
Translated by Darius Roby