Placed in north-western Romania, at the crossing between the Eastern Carpathians and the Apuseni Mountains, Salaj County was known as Sylvania County (ie the "County of Woods"). With an area of 3,850km², its neighbours are Satu-Mare and Maramures counties in the north, Bihor County in the west and south-west and Cluj County in south-east. Placed in the centre of the county it is the administrative residence of Salaj County.
It is situated close to the border with the former Roman Empire, 8 km from the Roman camp of Porolissum- the strongest fortress in north-western Roman Dacia.
During medieval times the town represented the passage between Central Europe and Transylvania, through the well-known " salt road". Today the town is connected to the European road on the axis Cluj- Satu-Mare- Petea Vama, DN1F-E81.
Apart from its economic importance, it's a powerful cultural, educational and tourist centre.
This town suffers from periodic water shortages, so you may want to fill a receptacle while water is flowing.
By car the distances are: 86 km to Cluj-Napoca, 108 km to Baia-Mare, 119 km to Satu-Mare, 117 km to Oradea.
In the town the transport is possible by bus and minibus.
- 1 Muzeul Judetean de Istorie si Arta Zalau (Art and History Museum Zalau), Str. Unirii nr. 9,, ☎ . In 1926, the first exhibition was organized, demonstrating the oldness and continuity of the inhabitants in these places. The museum was inaugurated in 1951 and it developed throughout the years, owning today more collections and more than 90,000 items exhibited: coins, Roman-Dacian statues, Middle Age, Modern and Contemporary documents and items of Romanian popular art, sculptures and paintings. The history department consists mainly of archeological collections (20,000 items), showing almost all the stages of a human living in the area (cave painting 100,000 years old, Bronze Age, the Dacian and Roman time). Among other sculptures the lapidary contains the statue of the Carracalla Emperor. The ethnographic department contains wooden, textile, glass pottery items, folk costumes in the Salaj area, etc. The arts department contains painting, graphic and sculpture collections belonging to the artists Aurel Ciupe, Romulus Ladea, Petre Abrudan, Nagy Imre
- Galeria de Arta 'Ioan Sima' (Art Gallery Ioan Sima), Str. Gheorghe Doja 6, ☎ . Founded in 1951 and reorganized in 1971, the History and Art County Museum, began with 2 permanent exhibitions: of history and popular art. Later on, a well-known artist of the time, Ioan Sima - born in Pericei (Salaj county) - donated his personal painting collection, on the condition to be preserved in a proper place, being the central place of a memorial museum. The county leadership offered the building on the Gheorghe Doja Street no. 6 to the county museum. On 9 July 1981, a new section of the museum was inaugurated and was named the Ioan Sima Arts Gallery. The Arts Gallery exhibited in 1981 Ioan Sima’s paintings in seven large rooms properly organized to offer a proper space to museum activities. But soon the space proved to be too cramped and the organization of other personal or group exhibitions was practically impossible. In 1983, the museum was offered 8 more rooms, now having a larger exhibition space. On the 1981 opening of the gallery, the museum already owned important paintings and sculptures. The central point of attraction was the collection of 162 paintings and graphic items forming the Ioan Sima Collection. Later on the artist donated 40 more paintings, his furniture items, popular art items, his personal archive and other personal objects. His niece, Maria Margareta Botezatu, donated a part of the paintings offered by her uncle. The gallery permanently exhibits his most representative works of art. It also contains works of the Romanian artists Corneliu Baba, Aurel Ciupe, Rudolf Schwitzer Cumpana, Petre Abrudan, Alexandru Mohi, Paul Sima, Ioan Mitrea, the most important operas coming from the painting schools in Cluj, Baia Mare, Timisoara and Oradea. The collection was enlarged by the donations made by the contemporary artists Teodor Botis, Victor Gaga, Vasile Pop Negresteanu, Eugen Patachi, Aurel Contras, Gheorghe Ilea, Marcel Munteanu and their students. A great collection of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera – bought by the museum from Tokacs Adalbert, a passioned Zalau collectioner - is housed at the entrance of the gallery. The etymological collection (constituted through the collector’s efforts to gather and classify local and universal species) offers the public a foray into the natural science. The staff organizes concerts, instrumental recitals (especially piano recitals) or other events.
- Among the 24 monuments and architectural ensembles in Zalau, the most representative are: the Transylvania building (1895- the municipal Theatre), the city hall building (housing the Law Court in 1889 and the Prefecture between 1904-1907), the Roman-Catholic Church (1878), the Reformed Church (1904-1907), The Dormition of Our Lady Orthodox Church (1930-1934), the Orthodox Rectorate (built at the end of the 19th century), the History County Museum (1900- casino of the Tradesman Association, a veritable architectural monument with neo-classical elements), the "Simion Barnutiu" Elementary School( 1895- girl’s school) and the Silvania National College (1860- reformed college), with town architecture of great value for the historic and cultural heritage of the country.
- Republic Street houses the building where the Swedish king, Carol the XIIth, made a halt for one night in 1714. A memorial plaque on the front of the building reminds us of Ady Endre’s (1892-1896) time spent here during the high-school time. The statuary group “Wesselenyi” is very interesting, being the opera of the well-known sculpture Fadrusz Janos. It is also worth mentioning the busts of Ady Endre (inaugurated in 1902) and Ocatavian Goga - both placed in front of the theoretical high school, as well as the bust of Simion Barnutiu, made by Romul Ladea. Other architectural elements are the busts of Al. Papiu Ilarian, Mihai Viteazu, Corneliu Coposu, Iuliu Maniu, and Andrei Saguna; the Monument of the Heroes, raised in the memory of the soldiers who died in the World Wars; the Lion Monument in front of the city hall; and the Angel Monument.
- 2 Porolissum. The ancient Roman city of Porolissum is one of the largest and best-preserved archaeological sites in modern-day Romania.
- The Ionita Scipione Badescu County Library, p-ta Iuliu Maniu, nr. 13, Judetul Salaj, ☎ . The media of the time recorded the inauguration - on 23 August 1950- of a "Central Library" owning 7000 Roman and Hungarian books. Among other personalities, Rodica Fanateanu, Elena Fanateanu, Karl Kun and many others were present. The collections comprise very old books like Petrarca's "De remediis" (1649). In 1952 it became District Library, coordinating all the Salaj county libraries. In 1957 took the name of the Salaj scholar Ionita Scipione Badescu. It became County Library" in 1968. Throughout the times it functioned in the Municipal Cultural House building, in the former Museum location, in the building of the today's Bookstores Centre and since 1971 in the building on the Iuliu Maniu Square no. 13. It has more than 160.000 books.