City of contrasts

We had some paperwork to sort out in Cluj today, so took a wander round the lake near the Julius Mall.

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This is the most recently developed part of the town. The Julius Mall itself is all shiny and new and looks very Western. Then, across the lake, there is the ‘Riviera Luxury’ – a newly built luxury apartment block:

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And the development is ongoing, as the presence of the cranes testifies.

Yet, in the midst of all this, there are still a few ramshackle houses with the ubiquitous beans, tomatoes and cucumbers growing in the garden. Not rows of terraces, cottages or suburban houses, like you’d see in England. Just a small single-storey village-type dwelling marooned in the midst of the city.

And then, in other parts of the city, there are the huge, grey, factory apartment blocks of the communist era, many of which make the likes of Grenfell Tower look like paradise. Here’s one in Manastur, next to the bus stop where we changed buses:

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It was factory workers from blocks like these that marched into the centre of Cluj on 21/22 December 1989, a couple of days before the revolution climaxed in Bucaresti. 26 people died and 57 were injured when the security forces opened fire in Cluj.

So Cluj, like so many others, is a city of contrasts. It’s also a city with much more to it than I have shown here, dating as it does from before the Roman conquest of 106 AD. But there is only so much of it one can see at once!

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