Matthias Corvinus House in Cluj: The birthplace of a king

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I still remember the first time I traveled to Cluj-Napoca. Having a terrible orientation (something accurate even now), I ended up in this amazing place, on my way to the Museum’s Square. Here, one can not only be incognito but also relive the story of a Viennese sculptor in Cluj-Napoca. This is the Matthias Corvinus House, also known at the Matei Corvin House. That day, the Museum’s Square in Cluj-Napoca, in north-western Transylvania, and its surrounding buildings became one of my favorite places. I later found out that the House of Matthias Corvinus is one of the oldest buildings in Cluj-Napoca. Today, it serves as one of the structures of the Art and Design University. This was not always the case. The initial purpose of this edifice was a guesthouse, and here is where the birthplace of one of Hungary’s most important kings, Matthias Corvinus is.

The House of Matei Corvin, Cluj-Napoca
The House of Matei Corvin, Cluj-Napoca
Strada Sextil Pușcariu 1, Cluj-Napoca 400111, Romania

A little history of the building

© Wikimedia Commons/ Tiberiu Neag
© Wikimedia Commons/ Tiberiu Neag

As mentioned above, this house is in the proximity of the Museum’s Square in Cluj-Napoca. To be more precise, this unique house is situated in Vetus Castrum, the old fortress. This architectural gem is the only house in Cluj-Napoca that underlines the transition from the Gothic architectural style to the Renaissance period. It was built at the end of the 15th century, having one of the most influential personalities of its time as an owner. In the first half of the 16th century, further architectural Renaissance elements were added. Today, one can admire the edifice with its changes that were done in the 19th century, when the building was under a restoration process.

© iStock/JoaBal
© iStock/JoaBal

As for what purpose this building served, this also changed as centuries passed. In 1740, the house was bought by the municipality of Cluj-Napoca and used as a hospital and a prison. After the Second World War, it has hosted a college and later the current purpose was assigned, as one of the buildings owned by the Art and Design University

Why is this building fascinating?

The fascination around this building was born due to the mystery behind the birth and early life of Matthias Corvinus, in addition to the unique style of the construction. Although historians haven’t decided why, it seems that Elisabeta Szilágyi, the wife of Ioan de Hunedoara, decided to give birth to her second son here. This was not something random, according to some of the researchers. Other historians argue that Elisabeta was only passing through Cluj-Napoca when Matthias Corvinus was born. Historians couldn’t agree on when this event happened; it was somewhere between 1440 and 1444. One fact is certain, after being born here, Matthias Corvinus became one of the most noteworthy rulers, the king of Hungary, Bohemia, and Croatia. He conquered a part of the Habsburg Empire in the 15th century and ruled those territories.

 © iStock/ emicristea
© iStock/ emicristea

Near the Matthias Corvinus House is where many medieval events take place but also where some of the largest medieval markets are hosted all year long. This market is where hand-made objects are sold alongside different medieval items.

I have no doubt that one will be fascinated by the Matthias Corvinus House in Cluj-Napoca. This amazing city in Romania has so much to offer besides this birthplace of a king. If one has the time, they should take the journey to get the coffee with the most amazing view, enjoy the Botanical Garden, be on top of Cluj-Napoca or even be afraid in the Baciu Hoia Forest near Cluj-Napoca.   

Cover picture © Wikimedia Commons/ Leontin I


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The author

Eva Poteaca

Eva Poteaca

Hello, I am Eva from Bistrița, Romania. I studied art history and love to travel and discover hidden gems all over the world. Through my writing, I will share with you a different side of Romania.

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