Zalău, Romania

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Zalău, Romania

Region: Sălaj

Geographic Coordinates: 47.191100, 23.057200
Climate: Seasonal climate and weather patterns in Zalău, Romania.
Population: 56202
Language: Romanian

Zalău is a charming city located in northwestern Romania, Nestled in the picturesque region of Transylvania. With a population of around 60, 000 inhabitants, It serves as the capital of Sălaj County and offers visitors a delightful blend of history, Natural beauty, And cultural heritage. Steeped in history, Zalău boasts an array of architectural gems that showcase its rich past. The city center is dominated by the majestic Gothic-style Roman Catholic Cathedral, An impressive structure dating back to the 14th century. Nearby stands the Neoclassical-style City Hall building with its elegant facade and ornate details.

Strolling through Zalău’s streets reveals a mix of architectural styles ranging from Baroque to Art Nouveau, Creating an eclectic atmosphere that captivates visitors. Nature enthusiasts will find themselves enchanted by Zalău’s surrounding landscapes. The city lies at the foothills of the Apuseni Mountains, Offering breathtaking views and numerous opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking. Just outside Zalău lies Jibou Park with its beautiful lake surrounded by lush greenery—a perfect spot for relaxation or a leisurely picnic. For those interested in exploring local traditions and culture, Zalău hosts several festivals throughout the year that celebrate Romanian folklore.

The Days of Sărmaș festival showcases traditional music performances, Dance shows featuring colorful costumes and intricate choreography, As well as local crafts exhibitions where visitors can admire traditional handmade items. Food lovers will be delighted by Zalău’s culinary scene which combines authentic Romanian dishes with regional specialties. Local restaurants offer hearty meals such as sarmale (cabbage rolls stuffed with meat), Mămăligă (polenta), Or delicious desserts like papanasi (fried doughnuts served with sour cream). Visitors can also enjoy locally produced wines from nearby vineyards or indulge in tastings of traditional pálinka, A strong fruit brandy.

Zalău’s location makes it an excellent base for exploring the wider region. Just a short drive away, Visitors can discover the charming village of Răstolița, Famous for its well-preserved wooden churches and traditional rural lifestyle. Additionally, The impressive Rimetea village with its stunning limestone houses and picturesque surroundings is within reach. Zalău is a captivating city that offers visitors a unique blend of history, Natural beauty, And cultural experiences. Whether you are exploring its architectural wonders in the city center or immersing yourself in the surrounding landscapes and traditional festivals, Zalău promises an unforgettable experience filled with charm and authenticity.

Important Landmarks

  1. Zalău City Hall: The City Hall is an architectural landmark in Zalău and serves as the administrative center of the city.
  2. Roman Catholic Cathedral: The cathedral is a beautiful religious site with impressive architecture that attracts visitors from all over.
  3. Simion Bărnuțiu Central Park: This park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, offering green spaces, walking paths, and recreational facilities.
  4. Museum of History and Art: This museum showcases the history and cultural heritage of Zalău through various exhibits including archaeological artifacts, traditional costumes, and historical documents.
  5. Mihai Viteazu Square: Located in the heart of the city, this square is a vibrant gathering place with cafes, shops, and events happening throughout the year.
  6. Porolissum Archaeological Site: Situated near Zalău, this ancient Roman settlement offers visitors a chance to explore ruins such as temples, amphitheaters, thermal baths, and fortifications.
  7. Moigrad-Porolissum Natural Park: This natural park surrounding Porolissum provides opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking or biking while enjoying picturesque landscapes.
  8. Wooden Church in Bic Village: A traditional wooden church located near Zalău that showcases local craftsmanship and religious heritage.
  9. Sămășan Hill Fortress: An ancient hilltop fortress with ruins dating back to medieval times offering panoramic views over Zalau’s surroundings.
  10. Jibou Botanical Garden Vasile Fati: Located nearby in Jibou town (Sălaj County), this botanical garden features diverse plant species from both Romania and abroad.

Primary Industries

  1. Manufacturing: Zalău has a strong manufacturing sector, with companies involved in various industries such as automotive components, machinery and equipment production, metalworking, textiles, and food processing.
  2. Automotive: The automotive industry plays a significant role in Zalău’s economy. Several international companies have established their presence here, including Delphi Technologies (now BorgWarner), which produces electronic components for vehicles.
  3. Textiles and Clothing: Zalău has a long tradition in the textile and clothing industry. Many local businesses are engaged in the production of textiles, garments, and accessories.
  4. Food Processing: The city is home to numerous food processing companies involved in dairy products manufacturing (including cheese), meat processing, bakery products production, and other food-related activities.
  5. Construction Materials: Zalău has a developing construction materials sector that includes companies producing cement products (such as LafargeHolcim) or other building materials like bricks or tiles.
  6. Retail Trade: As an economic center within its region, Zalău features various retail establishments ranging from supermarkets to small shops catering to the needs of local residents.
  7. Services Sector: The services sector also contributes significantly to Zalău’s economy with businesses offering banking services, insurance agencies, healthcare facilities (hospitals/clinics), educational institutions (schools/universities), professional services firms (lawyers/accountants), hospitality services (hotels/restaurants), among others.

It’s worth noting that this list is not exhaustive but provides an overview of some major industries and businesses present in Zalău.

Noteable History

  1. Roman Occupation: Zalău was originally a Roman settlement known as Germisara, which served as an important military and administrative center during the Roman Empire’s rule in Dacia.
  2. Hungarian Rule: Zalău was part of the Kingdom of Hungary for centuries and played a significant role in Transylvanian history during this period.
  3. Revolution of 1848: During the Hungarian Revolution against Austrian rule, Zalău became an important center for revolutionary activities and saw numerous uprisings against Habsburg authority.
  4. Ioan Slavici: Born in 1848, Ioan Slavici was a renowned Romanian writer and journalist who spent his childhood in Zalău. He is considered one of Romania’s greatest realist writers.
  5. The Great Union Day (December 1st): On December 1, 1918, at Alba Iulia, representatives from all Romanian-inhabited regions gathered to proclaim the union between Transylvania and Romania after World War I ended. This event marked an essential milestone in Romanian history and had significance for Zalău as well.
  6. Communist Era: Like many other cities in Romania, Zalău experienced significant changes during the communist regime under Nicolae Ceaușescu from 1965 to 1989.
  7. Corneliu Coposu: A prominent anti-communist dissident born near Zalău in Bocșa village (now part of Sâg commune). Coposu was a political leader who played a crucial role after the fall of communism while advocating for democracy and human rights.

These are just some examples that highlight both historical events related to Zalău and notable individuals associated with it throughout different periods.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Zalău County Museum – This museum showcases the history, culture, and traditions of Zalău and its surrounding areas. It houses various archaeological artifacts, traditional costumes, and historical documents.
  2. Simion Bărnuțiu Central Park – A beautiful park located in the heart of Zalău, offering a peaceful environment for leisurely walks or picnics. The park features a lake, playgrounds, and several sculptures.
  3. Roman Catholic Cathedral – A stunning religious monument known for its impressive architecture and intricate interior design. Visitors can admire the magnificent stained glass windows and ornate decorations.
  4. Art Museum Ioan Sima – This art center exhibits works by local artists as well as temporary exhibitions from national and international artists. It is a great place to explore contemporary art in Zalău.
  5. Reformed Church – One of the oldest churches in Zalău with a rich history dating back to the 14th century. The church’s architecture combines Gothic elements with Baroque influences.
  6. Mihai Viteazu Monument – A monument dedicated to Mihai Viteazu, one of Romania’s national heroes who played an important role in uniting the three principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia during the 16th century.
  7. Avram Iancu Square – The main square of Zalău where locals gather for events or simply enjoy their free time outdoors. It is surrounded by historical buildings such as City Hall or Prefecture Palace.
  8. Roman Catholic Church Sfântul Ioan Botezatorul (St John Baptist) – Another impressive religious building worth visiting due to its architectural beauty and serene atmosphere inside.
  9. Turda Gorge Nature Reserve – Located near Zalau (around 30 km away), this natural attraction offers breathtaking views with its towering limestone cliffs and the picturesque Turda River flowing through it. It is perfect for hiking or simply enjoying nature.
  10. Moigrad-Porolissum Archaeological Site – Situated about 20 km from Zalău, this ancient Roman city showcases well-preserved ruins, including a forum, amphitheater, and thermal baths. It provides a glimpse into the region’s Roman history.

Sports Teams

  1. CS Minaur Baia Mare (formerly CSU Baia Mare): The men’s handball team was founded in 1973 and relocated to Zalău in 2019 due to financial difficulties. They have a rich history, winning several national championships and participating in European competitions.
  2. SCM Gloria Buzău: The women’s handball team was relocated from Buzău to Zalău in 2020. They have achieved success at both the national and international levels, competing regularly in the Romanian Handball League.
  3. CSM Zalău: The women’s volleyball team has been a dominant force in Romanian volleyball for many years. They have won multiple national championships and regularly participate in European competitions like the CEV Cup.
  4. Olimpia Cluj-Napoca (formerly Olimpia CFR Satu Mare): The women’s basketball team was originally based in Satu Mare but moved to Cluj-Napoca before settling temporarily in Zalău due to financial issues. They have won numerous national titles and participated multiple times at EuroCup Women.
  5. CFR Cluj Futsal: The futsal team represents CFR Cluj, one of Romania’s most successful football clubs, which is based primarily out of Cluj-Napoca but also has ties with Zalau through its futsal division.

These are just a few examples of sports teams with notable histories associated with Zalău, Romania.

Cultural Events

  1. Zalău Days: This is a festival that takes place annually in July, celebrating the city’s history and culture. It includes various activities such as concerts, art exhibitions, traditional dances, and sports competitions.
  2. The International Folklore Festival Zestrea: Held every August, this festival brings together folk dance groups from different countries to showcase their traditional dances and costumes. It offers a unique opportunity to experience the diversity of cultures through music and dance.
  3. The Wine Festival: Taking place in September or October, this festival celebrates the local wine production with wine tasting sessions, music performances, traditional food stalls, and various entertainment activities.
  4. The Traditional Crafts Fair: Organized periodically throughout the year in Zalău’s central square or other designated locations, this fair showcases local artisans’ craftsmanship skills such as pottery making, wood carving, weaving embroidery etc., allowing visitors to purchase handmade products directly from the artisans.
  5. Christmas Market: During December leading up to Christmas Eve (December 24th), Zalău hosts a festive market where visitors can enjoy traditional food specialties like mulled wine (vin fiert), chimney cakes (kürtőskalács), gingerbread cookies (cozonaci), as well as buy handmade crafts and gifts for the holiday season.

These are just a few examples of cultural events and festivals that take place in Zalău throughout the year; however, it’s important to note that specific dates may vary from year to year, so it’s recommended to check for updated information closer to your planned visit.


  1. Crama Haiducilor: This traditional Romanian restaurant is known for its rustic atmosphere and delicious local dishes such as sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), mici (grilled minced meat rolls), and various grilled meats.
  2. Restaurant Casa Romaneasca: Offering a cozy ambiance, this restaurant specializes in traditional Romanian cuisine, including hearty soups like ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup) and main courses like tocana de miel (lamb stew).
  3. Restaurant La Răscruce: Situated in a picturesque location outside Zalău, this restaurant serves both Romanian and international dishes. Their menu features items like papanasi (traditional cottage cheese donuts) for dessert.
  4. Restaurant Rustic Zalau: Known for its warm atmosphere and friendly staff, this restaurant offers a mix of international dishes along with traditional Romanian cuisine.
  5. Pizzeria Trattoria da Franco: If you’re in the mood for pizza or Italian food, this pizzeria is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike.
  6. Bistro 2000: A modern bistro with an extensive menu that caters to different tastes, offering both local specialties like mămăligă cu brânză și smântână (polenta with cheese and sour cream) as well as international dishes.
  7. Pensiunea Hanul Moara Veche: Located in a charming countryside setting near Zalau, this guesthouse also has an excellent restaurant where you can enjoy traditional Romanian meals prepared with fresh ingredients sourced locally.

These are just some of the popular local cuisine options available in Zalău; there are many other restaurants offering diverse menus to cater to different preferences.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Mihai Viteazu Park – A large park with walking paths, playgrounds, and a lake where visitors can rent paddle boats.
  2. Central Park – Located in the city center, it offers green spaces for relaxation and a playground for children.
  3. Gradina Simion Bărnuțiu – A small park with benches and trees, perfect for a peaceful walk or picnic.
  4. Parcul Copiilor (Children’s Park) – Designed specifically for children, it features various play areas with slides, swings, and climbing structures.
  5. AquaPark Zalău – A water park offering pools, water slides, and other aquatic attractions suitable for all ages.
  6. Sports Complex Podul Viilor – Provides facilities for various sports such as football fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a running track.
  7. Adventure Park Zalău – Offers outdoor activities like zip-lining through the forest canopy and rope courses suitable for both adults and children.
  8. Skatepark Zalău – A skateboarding facility equipped with ramps and obstacles to practice skateboarding tricks.
  9. Cycling routes around the city outskirts or nearby hills provide opportunities to explore the surrounding nature while enjoying outdoor exercise.

These are just some of the options available in Zalău; there may be additional parks or recreational activities based on personal preferences or seasonal events happening at specific times of the year.


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