Michael the Brave

General Ion Coman , who in 1976 was at the head of the Romanian army, reported that, initially, the model of this statue had entered the competition for Alba Iulia , and will be placed near the Union Hall. The objection was also raised that the statue is a bit tall compared to the buildings in the area, although this was not a decisive argument to eliminate it. However, regardless of the arguments, Nicolae Ceaușescu intervened, and gave Oscar Han the victory.. His argument was rather sentimental in nature and started from the idea that Oscar Han, born in 1891, had reached a fairly advanced age, and that was likely to be his last representative work. Thus, in 1968, in Alba Iulia, in front of the Prince’s Palace, on the occasion of the half-centenary of the union of Transylvania with Romania, the statue proposed by Marius Butunoiu was not unveiled, but the equestrian statue of Mihai Viteazul from Alba Iulia , made by the sculptor Oscar Han. Because Butunoiu had reached a fairly advanced stage with the work, Ceaușescu also proposed, in compensation, that this second “Mihai Viteazul” be placed either in Călugăreni , where Sinan Pasha was thrown from his horse, or in Șelimbăr, from where, later, Mihai Viteazul set off for Alba Iulia. After much debate about this alternative, in the end, Ceausescu decided that the statue should be erected in Cluj, because it brought an extra Romanian history there, with the unconfessed hope that Mihai Viteazul will neutralize, in terms of image, Matei Corvin , represented in the Matia Corvin Monumental Ensemble in Cluj , which, historically speaking, identifies – not only spiritually – with the Hungarian community, rather than with the Romanians.

The current situation ?

When I visited Cluj-Napoca in 2013, the base of the statue of Michael the Brave had reached an advanced state of degradation, several plates had fallen and the earth was collapsing at its base. Representatives of the municipality said that no intervention was made to repair the pedestal because, since 2007, an underground car park was to be built under the statue and park space. The parking lot, initially designed with a single underground level, would have had a capacity of 179 spaces, and the two-level variant would have offered over 364 parking spaces, at a price of 33 million lei, money which the mayor’s office does not have, so the project, which also involved the restoration of the statue, remained “pending”. From the available money, the mayor’s office built a surface parking lot with a barrier, with 71 spaces, in Mihai Viteazu Square. The restoration of the statue was not included in this project.

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