COD LMI: AB-II-m-A-00133

Date of construction: sec. XVI - XVIII

Situated on the location of the former Episcopal Palace and the Prepositure and including some elements of these buildings, the palace of the Transylvanian princes was built in successive phases, starting with the middle of the 14th century. During the next century, the palace extended to a maximum by organizing different wings around three inner courtyards. After 1541, the former Episcopal palace became the residence of Queen Isabella and Prince John Sigismund. They only had the necessary repair works done in order to fulfill its new role and only after the secularization of church estates (1556) the building became a princely palace in the true sense of the word. Sigismund Bathory (1581-1602) brings vast alterations to the ensemble: he closed the middle courtyard by adding laterals to the South and the North and in order to perform these works, he brought masters from Italy and Poland.

Mihai Viteazul lived here during his short stay in Alba Iulia. After his death, the fights for the control of Transylvania will negatively affect the citadel and implicitly the Palace. In this context it will be set on fire several times, so that there will even be talk about abandoning the citadel and moving the capital to Sibiu. Gabriel Bethlen will be the one beginning the rehabilitation of the Palace. The last courtyard was added during his time, the Eastern one, where the princely stables are set up, together with the related staff dwellings. Gabriel Bethlen approved the installation of a terrace-type roof with decorative pinnacles, which was completely inappropriate because of the water and snow quantity falling in Alba Iulia. Gh. Rakoczi I built a ridged roof, with tiles replacing the tinned plate sheet. The Palace includes a ballroom, a wing which was reserved to the princess and her ladies, a waiting hall and the private apartment of the Prince. Renaissance frameworks were added in the North and South wings. In 1615 the glass blowers in Cluj delivered 2180 window glasses to the palace, the glass windows being installed in metallic frames. There is even a glass gallery. Multicolored mosaics were set in the floors. The walls and ceilings were painted. Gabriel Bethlen ordered tiles from Constantinople (the famous Iznik tiles) (1624) for the two rooms, an order his descendants repeated. They filled in with Habana tiles. Prince Rákóczi I (1630-1648) was the last prince to add something to the Palace. He created a corridor on the ground floor, adding six archways on the outside of the Northern wing, on each side of the "Prepositure" gate. The Diet Hall was created above the Eastern gate, having the capacity to receive 200 people participating in the works. A hall for the Board of Judges was also built here.

Evlia Celebi, the Turkish traveler narrated: "Above the Southern wall of the citadel, looking onto the field, there was an extraordinarily beautiful princely palace. All its walls and doors were painted in a multitude of colors and all the columns were adorned with green granite and Samaki marble. All the windows had bronze frameworks and were bordered with crystal glasses and Murano mirrors, and the floor was covered in mosaics from India, with fine marble stones. The various low and story-high rooms had water pools, water tanks and wells springing clear water and various works of art adorned it."

All these will vanish along with the destructions caused by the Turks in 1658 and in 1661-1662. The Palace and the citadel had nothing more to offer and consequently the last Transylvanian prince stayed in Făgăraș most of the time.

The buildings receive different uses under the Habsburgs: the Eastern part became a barrack, and the West wing transformed into the rehabilitated residence of the Roman-Catholic Episcopacy. The 91st Infantry Regiment settles here on January 15, 1919, the barracks receiving the name of King Ferdinand I.

The edifice still presents numerous architectural details representative for the Transylvanian Renaissance: gateways, frames, gables, archways.

At the present, the Princely Palace is in the administration of the City Hall of Alba Iulia.


No. 4, Militari Street