The Dacian city of Napuca was first mentioned in documents two thousand years ago by the Greek geographer, Claudius Ptolomaeus (85-165). This has not yet been proved by archaeologists, but it is a known fact, that this was succeeded by a Roman settlement, Napoca. The settlement was then raised to the rank of city during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138), with its full name "Municipium Aelium Hadrianum Napoca", and received the rank of a colony around the year 180, under the name of "Colonia Aurelia Napoca."
After the Dark Ages of migration, when the Gepids built an ephemeral royal residence around Cluj, in 1173, the city reappears in documents under the name of Clus (Latin for "dark spot between the hills"). Other names of the city are Kolozsvár (in Hungarian) and Klausenburg (in German) named by the Saxon settlers from Baden-Württemberg, who have settled down in the city of Cluj after the attack of the Tatars which devastated the city in the thirteenth century.
Klausenburg was one of the seven Transylvanian Saxon settlements, which have been privileged to be surrounded by walls, becoming a medieval burg that gave the German name to the province - Siebenburgen.
The first name of the city was Clus, written sometimes as Klus. In 1974, with the full expansion of the national communism, its name was changed to Cluj-Napoca, to highlight the city's Latin roots.
In 1316, the privileges offered by King Carol Robert of Anjou offered it the status of a ‘(free) royal city’. Among the most important privileges are: the right to have its own administration, the right to trial, the right to have commercial exchanges, the right to build churches and graveyards and so on. In 1405, King Sigismund of Luxembourg offered new privileges to the city, among which the right to expand the fortification.
The city also enjoyed the special protection of another great king who was born in Cluj: Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490). The construction and restoration of one the most representative monuments in the city are all linked to his name: the finalization of the construction of the St. Michael’s church (around the year 1480) and the building of the Tailors' Tower in 1475. But maybe the most important building in Cluj, directly linked to the name of Matthias Corvinus was the church located on the Lupilor street (today M. Kogălniceanu street), whose construction, which began in 1486, was funded by a consistent royal donation.
Reinforced by the granted privileges and enjoying the protection of great kings, the city has flourished in the second half of the sixteenth century, when it came to be known as "the treasure city".
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Cluj is enshrined by a popular vintage stamp as „Transilvaniae civitas primaria”. But the end of the century will bring sorrow to the city, with wars and plagues making the author exclaim that the "treasure-city" slowly became "the beggar city”.
Between 1713 and 1716, Vauban system-type fortification was built by the Austrians on the Cetățuia Hill. The city slowly recovered from its wounds and in 1790 it became the capital of the Grand Principality of Transylvania, under the Habsburg monarchy.
In 1918, when Transylvania is united with Romania, Cluj is already a modern, thriving city, fully connected to the "spirit of that age." During the interwar period the city continued to develop as one of the most important cities in Great Romania. During the Second World War, the city was part of the territory ceded to Hungary.
The people in Cluj are now facing the challenge of understanding the true meaning of being “European" – a long process of learning and discovering, which is done together with all the other inhabitants of the Eastern European countries, formerly separated by the Western pace by the Iron Curtain. The fact that our city is a fast learner has been proven by the fact that Cluj was selected to become the European Youth Capital in 2015.