Zalau Municipality

Placed in the North-Western part of Romania, capital city of Sălaj County, Zalău covers a total area of 9009 ha. It is composed by the city of Zalău and the village Stîna, located nearby. A section of the administrative territory of Zalău is taken by Meşes Mountains, which contributes essentially to the quality of the environment.

The archeological research prove the existence of human settlements on the territory of Zalău going back 6500 years, namely from the Neolithic period. The continuity of the human activity in this area is certified by the artifacts discovered in the archeological sites (coins, axes, ceramics etc).

As for antiquity period, it is important to bear in mind that after the emperor Trajan had conquered Dacia (106 AD), the border of the Roman Empire passed on the peaks of Meseş Mountains. The territory north from it belonged to free Dacians. In the Eastern - South Eastern part, the roman build a defense system with fortifications, towers, entrenchments, and ditches ("limes porolissensis"). On Zalău territory, several traces of wooden Roman castrums have been discovered, but the "jewel" of this defense system is the Porolissum Roman castrum (on the territories of Moigrad and Jac villages, 12 km from Zalau).


The first written notice about Zalău is mentioned in "Gesta Hungarorum" also called the Anonymus Chronicle, around year 1210. Anonymus was the notary of King Bela the IVth of Hungary.

After tartar invasion and the city devastation from 1241, Zalău had been run by the Catholic Bishopric of Oradea since 1246 until 1542. That year the settlement was included into the Transylvanian Princedom.

On the first of August 1473, Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary and Bohemia, declared Zalău "Oppidum Zilah" (fair-town, borough). This privilege gave the settlement the right of free commerce and economic independence.


At the end of the XVIth century, the town still belonged to Transylvania Princedom and it enjoyed an autonomous administration of 33 elected senators. Among them one was elected mayor.

Another important moment in Zalău's history is when the Romanian ruler Mihai Vitezu camped his army in the northern part of the city, just before he defeated Sigismund Bathory (the Prince of Transylvania) at Guruslău (20 km away).


After the victory of Mihai Viteazul from Guruslau, at 3th august 1601, Zalau enjoys its own administrative, legislative, fiscal and military rules; it has a real autonomy that offers freedoms to its citizens. A chronic from the XVIIth century noticed for the first time the crafts of the local citizens. They were: belt makers, potters, wheelers, shoemakers, butchers, blacksmiths, carpenters, hat makers, armourers.

Throughout the XVIth and XVIIth centuries, a number of reformed colleges were established in Transylvania. In 1646 the first college was set in Zalău, in one of the 3 buildings where today the "Silvania" National College functions.


In 1968 Zalău becomes the capital of Sălaj County, and in 1979 is declared municipality (municipiu).
Throughout the history, the place was given various names: "Zilah" in 1220, "Oppidum Zilah" in 1473, "Zila" in 1601, Szilaj - Sszilagy in 1839, Szilaju in 1850 and Zilah - Walthenberg - Zălau in 1854. The origin of the name is still unclear; some say that it comes from the Dacian name for "belt" (because of tha way the Meses Mountains surround the city) or from another Dacian word, "zil", meaning "wine". Considering the hilly surroundings of the city and the main agricultural occupation, the valley of Wine seems to be the correct interpretation of Zalau's name.