Oradea


The Fortress
The Fortress Today
Churches
The "Tarii Crisurilor" Museum
The Cathedral
The Israelit Synagogue
"Emanuil Gojdu" High School
The Medicine Faculty
The District Library
The Town Hall
The Theatre
The Black Eagle
Adorjan Palace
Astoria Hotel


Situated at the foot of Apuseni Mountaines, at the distance sensitively equal from Wien, Prague and Bucharest, Oradea is a passing-point on the roads which connect Central and Northern Europe with the South-Eastern part of our continent. By its position in our country, Oradea is the main entering gate at Western frontier.

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The Fortress

The first documentary mentioning of the name of the town (Varadinum) shows up in 1113 though it seems that its foundation has been set on the bank of the river Crisul Repede, a long time before that year.
Town with ancient traditions, Oradea had an important role in history, because of its stategic position, in an area between mountains and plaines, on the banks of the river Crisul Repede, at the intersection of some very important commercial roads. This geographical position will stimulate its developement, Oradea becoming in a short while a blooming comercial town and also an important cultural center.
During the Renaissance, Oradea had many connections with Italian artists, which brought from their country the taste for the refinement of this culture. So, in the 15th century, the Italian language was probably a common aspect on the streets of Oradea, a part of the urban life. Even Nicolaus Olahus, the well-known Romanian humanist studied at Oradea. This is the first great period (the 15th century) during which the Italian Humanism influenced the culture in this town, known in Venice and Florence as Varadino.
The existence of a fortification on the teritory of Oradea was mentioned for the first time in 1241, by the canon Rogerius. The fortress was composed of a cathedral, a bishoprical palace and some other buildings, parts of an ecclesiastic centre. Since then, the architectural patrimony of the town has been enriched with many churches and a tower-chapel. The image of the fortress in the 16th century has been kept relatively truthful in contemporary descriptions and also on the oldest stamp, dating from 1598, belonging to Joris Hoefnagel.


The Fortress Today
The bulwark, in its present exterior shape was besieged five times during the period between 1598 and 1692, resisting to most of the attacks.
Beginning with the 18th century the Austrian military authorities used the fortress as headquarters and jail; today, it is a touristic attraction.

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In the 18th century, during the Enlightenment, the cultural life of the town was intense. In the last decade of this century, a school institution of high degree was inaugurated in Oradea, for the first time in its history. The Royal Academy debutated in the 1st of November 1780 with the first study year in Philosophy and in the 1st of September 1788 with the first study year in Law.
The personality which imposed the major developement directions in the spiritual life in the first half of the 19th century was the Greek-catholic bishop Samuil Vulcan. In 1828, he established at Beius a highschool which was ment to rise the quality of the Romanian educational system. He also coordinated the huge work for the elaboration of the "Romanian-Latin-Hungarian-German Lexicon", printed in 1825, one of the most important work for presenting and aranging the Romanian vocabulary of that time.
Man of culture, Samuil Vulcan was the owner of an impressing library, not only by the large number of the books but also by their value and diversity. The printing developed early in Oradea, the first book being printed here in 1745. Oradea is not one the most important printing centers in Central Europe, but in the 18th century 140-150 titles have been published here and more than 370 in the 19th century. The most important thing is that a spiritual emulation developed in this town, an emulation which was also reflected into the printing activity. On the other side, there were lots of cultural preocupations in Oradea: schools of a lower and higher degree, libraries, printing houses, music and thearical shows and also a receptive public, sensitive to cultural acts and interested in the main European cultural ideas of the time.
The image of the town was created in the 18th century. The first important constructions were the churches. The first catholic church is built in 1693: it is the church "Saint Brigitta". It is set on fire in 1703 and rebuilt in 1722. The church is very small, it has a straight ceiling and and a small tower made of wood.

"Saint Trinity"

"Saint Ladislau"
The first orthodox church in Oradea is one made of wood in fair Velenta in 1720. In the 18th century a new orthodox church in baroque style is built on its place. The first construction in the baroque style shows up at the beginning of this century. The church "Saint Ladislau" is built after 1720 and its tower is built later during the last decade of the 18th century, in the late baroque style. The frescoes date from 1908 and they belong to the painter Tury Gyula.

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In the middle of the 18th century The Union Square becomes the center of the district New Town (the left bank of the river Crisul Repede, the center of the town in the present). The first building in this square dates from 1714 and it will become the inn "The Eagle". In 1753 the square expandes and lots of theatrical performances take place here. At the beginning of the 18th century a group of monks built a church which will later become the Greek-catholic church and in 1948 it becomes the orthodox church "Bunavestire".
A very important public construction is the former building of the district, build in the baroque style in 1760 and rebuilt in 1855 when a new side was added ton it. After the reconstuctions it loses its original character.The Roman-catholic bishop Forgach Pal begins the constuction of the cathedral and of the new palace, whose project was already made by the architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt from Wien in 1752. But the construction didn't begin until 1752 and it was guided by the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Ricca, who adds elements inspired from Vignole's church "Il Gesu" (Jesus). The cathedral was finished in 1780. The front was simplified given the original project and some classical elements were added.

"Tarii Crisurilor"
Museum
In 1762 in the neighbourhood of the cathedral the construction of the bishoprical palace begins under the guiding of the engineer Johann Michael Neuman. The building was finished in 1777 and is made of three parts with two floors which delimit an inner yard. Today it is the most important museum of the town, the "Tarii Crisurilor" Museum.
The two buildings make together a very important pile of late baroque architecture.

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The houses of the canons were built near this pile, these being known under the name "The Canons' Line".
The first orthodox church was "The Moon Church"; its foundation was set in the 9th of November 1784. It was build in the late baroque style under the guidance of Iacob Eder and it was finished in the year 1790. In the tower of the church there is a mechanism which moves a sphere repesenting the moon. This mechanism, from which the church takes its name, was made in 1793 by the watchmaker Georg Rueppe and it shows the hornings of the moon.

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The Cathedral

In the year 1810 the construction of the church "Saint Nicholas" is finished. Its front was made in the late baroque style, also having some neoclassical characteristics. The plane has the shape of a cross, the ceiling vaulted an the central cupola painted with scenes inspired from the Bible. The church has an unfavourable placement in the square, because the altar was placed to the East.
In the second half of the 19th century, a new style appears in architecture, the ecletic style, which involves using elements from a historical style or from different styles.

The Israelit Synagogue
An example is the Israelite Synagogue, projected by the engineer Busch David. The synagogue has its plane square and it is covered with a chapel. The interior and the exterior decorations are inspired from the moor art.

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If only some churches and monasteries remained from the ancient times, beginning with the 19th century we can find lots of civilian constructions like houses, schools and other public institutions. The Gimnazium Premonstratens and the Law Academy (nowadays "Mihai Eminescu" Highschool) are built in 1874, and the building that is nowadays "Emanuil Gojdu" Highschool in 1895, being projected by Knapp Ferenc. The building which has a ground floor and two floors is a monumental construction.

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"Emanuil Gojdu" High School

The Medicine Faculty
The building which is today the Medicine University was built in 1869.The Public Finances' Palace, nowadays the Adults' Clinic, was built in 1890. The town Museum which was inaugurated in 1896 is also built in the ecletic style.

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At the end of the 19th century, remarkable monuments of eclesiastic architecture were built in Oradea: the Ortodox Israelitan Synagogue (having moor art elements) and the Roman-catholic church on the Republic's street.
In 1903, the Greek-catholic comunity builds the new Bishoprical Palace, on the place of the old one, which became narrow (today it is the District Library), following the project of Rimanoczy Kalman junior. The building is remarkable by the abundance of the geometrical and vegetal decorations.

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The District Library

The Town Hall
The town hall was built between 1902-1903. It was also projected by Rimanoczy Kalman. Lop-sided, the building is a real monument.

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The current building of the Prefecture, built in 1901 in the eclectic style and used as a premise for the Law Court, imposes itself by the main front: its superior part is decorated with four allegorical sculptures.
The project of the theatre was entrusted to the Viennese firm Fellner& Helmer. The construction began in 1899 and it was finished in record time by the contractors Rimanoczy Kalman junior, Guttman Jozsef and Rendes Vilmos. The main front is neoclassical, with pilars which sustain a triangular gable decorated with bas-relieves. Two allegorical statues are placed in front of it.The first performance took place in the 15th of October 1900.

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The Theatre
In the first decade of the 20th century, a new spirit of arts spreads in Oradea, a spirit different from the academic styles, creating the prerequisites of a stylistic diversification, bazed on inventions and originality.The new style, the secession, has two main periods: the one with curved lines and flower motives and the geometrical one.

The Black Eagle
The most important achievement of the two architects Komor Marcell and Jakab is the Black Eagle Palace, built in the Union Square in the years 1907-1909, on the base of an old inn having the same name.
A characteristic of this pile is the passage covered with glass which makes the conection between three streets and also the stained glass window representing the town symbol, the eagle.

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The Black Eagle
The same architects projected some other houses, such as: Fuchsl House, Adorjan Houses, Stern Palace.
At the Fuchsl House, the main decoration consists of flower motives and bunches of grapes. The Adorjan Houses were built between 1904-1906. Their specific is the sculptural aspect of the main fronts and also their plaster. The Stern Palace, built between 1908-1909, includes a high grandfloor and a mezzanine, these consisting of comercial units and two floors of dwellings.

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Adorjan Palace

Astoria Hotel
Continuing the list of the Secession buildings, some of them deserve to be mentioned: Hotel Emke (nowadays Hotel Astoria), Poynar House (the Eminescu bookshop), Deutsch House with whole of its front decorated with folk floral motives and ended with a curved atic.
The Ullman Palace is an example of Viennese Secession belonging to Lobl Ferencz, being built in 1913. The specific feature of this building is the bas-relief presenting the nubian lion and the seven armed candlestick made of bronze-green stoneware.
The front of the Moskovits Palace is characterized by an alternation of straight and curved planes. The exterior decorations are color potter plates and alegoric figures at the top of the building.
Between 1912 and 1914 the Apollo Palace is built in the Berlin secession style, its decorations reminding the empire style.

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But all these simple words are not able to describe the beauty of these architectural masterpieces.
The architectural stateliness of Oradea faced both time and the forces of nature, offering today the image of a vivid town.


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Page created by Cristi Streng, Cristi Tiurbe, Andreea Ivan, Mirona Oros, Lavinia Sabau, Csaba Ile .
Last updated May 29th 1997.