The University of Babeş-Bolyai, in Cluj (Transilvania), may become the first institution of higher education in Romania to have an Institute of Armenian Studies. The announcement was made by Professor Lucian Năstasă-Kovacs, reported Araratonline.com, the periodical of the Armenian Union of Romania.
He said that there are excellent contacts with universities in Armenia, who would be interested in developing the study of Armenian language, culture and history in the country.
There is a wide interest for the city of Cluj within the context of Gherla, traditionally considered the Armenian capital of Romania. In fact, the old name of Gherla is Armenopolis. The city was founded by Armenian settlers who emigrated from Moldova to Transylvania during the Habsburg period. Gherla was built from scratch by an Italian architect hired by wealthy merchants and bankers of the Armenian community. The streets of the old town are built on a rectangular plan and the Armenian Catholic Church of Gherla is considered by townspeople the "navel of the earth," as Armenian community leader Janos Estegar said. He added that a legend circulating among Armenians in Gherla says that the church is the highest Armenian Catholic shrine in the world.