Gherla (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈɡerla]; Hungarian: Szamosújvár; German: Neuschloss) is a municipality in Cluj County, Romania (in the historical region of Transylvania). It is located 45 kilometres (28 mi) from Cluj-Napoca on the river Someșul Mic, and has a population of 19,873 as of 2021. Three villages are administered by the city: Băița (formerly Chirău, and Kérő in Hungarian), Hășdate (Szamoshesdát) and Silivaș (Vizszilvás).

Overview of Gherla in May 2004
Overview of Gherla in May 2004
Coat of arms of Gherla
Location in Cluj County
Location in Cluj County
Gherla is located in Romania
Location in Romania
Coordinates: 47°1′12″N 23°54′0″E / 47.02000°N 23.90000°E / 47.02000; 23.90000
 • Mayor (2020–2024) Ovidiu Drăgan[1] (PNL)
36.3 km2 (14.0 sq mi)
250 m (820 ft)
 • Density550/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
Time zoneEET/EEST (UTC+2/+3)
Postal code
Area code(+40) 02 64
Vehicle reg.CJ

The city was formerly known as Armenopolis[3] (Armenian: Հայաքաղաք Hayakaghak; German: Armenierstadt; Hungarian: Örményváros) because it was populated by Armenians.[4]

History edit

Armenian Catholic Cathedral

A clay tablet containing a fragmentary Old Persian cuneiform of the Achaemenid king Darius I was found at Gherla in 1937. It may be connected to Darius I's epigraphic activities in relation to his Scythian campaign of 513 BC as reported by Herodotus.[5][6][7]

The locality was first recorded in 1291 as a village named Gherlahida, (probably derived from the Slavic word grle, meaning "ford"). The second name was Armenian, Հայաքաղաք Hayakaghak, meaning "Armenian city"; it took the Medieval Latin and Greek official name Armenopolis, as well as the German alternative name Armenierstadt. Later, the name Szamosújvár was used in official Hungarian records, meaning "the new town on the Someș". Before 1918, Gherla was part of the Kingdom of Hungary comitatus of Szolnok-Doboka. It was again part of Hungary between 1940 and until the end of World War II.

The modern city was built in the early 18th century by Armenians, successors of the Cilician Armenian diaspora, who had originally settled in Crimea and Moldavia, and moved to Transylvania sometime after 1650. After a two years' campaign by the Armenian-Catholic Bishop Oxendius Vărzărescu, they converted from the Armenian Apostolic Church to the Armenian Catholic Church.[citation needed]

Gherla is the seat of the Ordinariate for Catholics of Armenian Rite in Romania, as well as that of a Greek-Catholic diocese – the Cluj-Gherla Diocese (suffragan to the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Alba Iulia and Făgăraș-Blaj, who resided in Blaj). In the center of the city lie the Saint Gregory the Illuminator and the Holy Trinity Armenian Cathedral. The main Armenian-Catholic church was built in 1792. The Greek Catholic diocese was created by the Papal Bull Ad Apostolicam Sedem of November 26, 1853, and the first bishop was Ioan Alexi.

During the Years of Revolution of 1848 and 1849, Gherla was the stage for numerous battles between the warring parties, changing hands several times. The Austrian commander Karl von Urban and his Romanian Regiment liberated the city three times from Hungarian revolutionary forces, winning the Battle of Szamosújvár on 13 November 1848, a landmark of the stormy period.

A Habsburg fortress was built here and converted to a prison in 1785. During the Communist regime, the prison was used for political detainees (see Gherla prison). Today it is a Romanian high-security prison.

The town is often visited by Orthodox pilgrims on their way to the nearby village of Nicula and Nicula Monastery.

Gherla also had a significant Jewish population which was decimated during the Holocaust. After the war most of the remaining Jewish population left the city. The Synagogue and the Holocaust Memorial Monument are visited by tourists from many countries.[citation needed]

Demographics edit

Historical population
1910 6,857—    
1930 6,608−3.6%
1948 6,663+0.8%
1956 7,617+14.3%
1966 12,766+67.6%
1977 17,599+37.9%
1992 26,277+49.3%
2002 24,232−7.8%
2011 20,982−13.4%
2021 19,873−5.3%
Source: Census data

According to the 2021 Romanian census, Gherla has a population of 19,873, a decrease of 5.3% from the previous census.[8] At the 2011 census, there were 20,982 people living within the city; of those, 15,952 (76.0%) were Romanians, 3,435 (16.4%) Hungarians, 735 (3.5%) Roma, and 61 (0.3%) others, including 16 Germans (more specifically Transylvanian Saxons).[9]

For Armenian Catholics, see Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics of Romania.

Natives edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Results of the 2020 local elections". Central Electoral Bureau. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Populaţia rezidentă după grupa de vârstă, pe județe și municipii, orașe, comune, la 1 decembrie 2021" (XLS). National Institute of Statistics.
  3. ^ Mallows, Lucy (2008). Transylvania. Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides. p. 256. ISBN 9781841622309.
  4. ^ Steve Kokker, Cathryn Kemp (2004). Romania & Moldova. Footscray, Victoria: Lonely Planet. p. 159. ISBN 9781741041491. Gherla Once a predominantly Armenian settlement called Armenopolis in the 17th century...
  5. ^ Kuhrt 2013, p. 197.
  6. ^ Frye 1984, p. 103.
  7. ^ Schmitt 2000, p. 53.
  8. ^ "Populația rezidentă după grupa de vârstă, pe județe și municipii, orașe, comune, la 1 decembrie 2021" (in Romanian). INSSE. 31 May 2023.
  9. ^ Tab8. Populaţia stabilă după etnie – județe, municipii, orașe, comune, 2011 census results, Institutul Național de Statistică, accessed 17 February 2020.

Sources edit

External links edit