Oradea: Charming university city in the middle of Europe

Oradea City is situated in the North West of Romania and stretches on the both banks of the Crisul Repede river . This geographical position stimulated the evolution of the town because along the valley of the Crisul Repede River a link between western and south eastern Europe developed, even towards the Near East, Oradea having become an important commercial town. By its position within our country, being situated at 12 km from the west border, Oradea is the main gate at the western frontier of Romania.

The systematical archaeological research developed in the town area pointed out the existence of some settlements belonging to the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. The rich archaeological discoveries enriches today the collections of several prestigious museums from our country or abroad. Those who lived here were the "Free Dacians" and the Roman withdrawal did not disturb the life of the Dacian communities in the area of Oradea. According to the archaeological evidence, the Dacian population remained stable in the old places, having more or less intense connections with the migratory population, which successively passed from the Asian continent towards central parts of Europe. Topologically certified since 1113 (Varadinum), in documents, Oradea was recorded as town (civitas Varadiensis) in 1374 .The Tartar invasion in 1241, described by Rogerius monk who witnessed the events, devastated the region, being thus the moment of a new beginning.

Being an important junction of commercial roads, the town was protected by a circular stone fortress (at the end of the XVII century. This fortress can be visited even today and is just behind Piazza Mare - Big market), and later, by a bulwark building in Italian style (XIV-XVII centuries), which was built by the contribution of Transylvanian craftsmen and funds.

The cultural dimension is reflected especially by the influence of the Italian humanism, "the golden age" of the XIV-XVth centuries being dominated by the late gothic and Renascence , which are present especially in the architecture of the old cathedral and of the bishopric palace inside the fortress. The fortress was rebuilt beginning with 1567, becoming a reference military mark for the region.

Between 1660-1692 Oradea was a Turkish pashalic, but the Ottoman occupation was short termed because in June 1692, the Austrian army entered the biggest town in the region. New historical views were opening then. There appeared guilds for several trades, public and private libraries, printing houses; churches, cathedrals, seigniorial palaces and cultural settlements were being built.

We mention some of them:

  • Sf. Ladislau Roman Catholic Church, (1723-1742)
    "Adormirea Maicii Domnului" Orthodox Cathedral, named the Moon Church (1784)
  • The Roman-Catholic Bishopric Palace (1762/ 1777)
  • The Baroque Palace where nowadays the "Tarii Crisurilor Museum is functioning having 3 sections: History, Etnographic art and Natural sciences, the "Sf. Nicolae"
  • Greek- Catholic Cathedral (1806)
  • the Orthodox Synagogue
  • the Chamber of Commerce Palace (1893-1894)
  • Law Court Palace and the Public Theatre.

The cultural character of the town was completed with the existence, since 1780, of a Law Academy which is the basis of the nowadays Oradea university centre. The XIXth century also indicates the beginning of modernity by the conceiving of the first systematisation and administrative union plans of different districts of the town.

Towards the end of the century, alongside with an important industrial development, some of the great cultural institutions of the country, such as the museum, the theatre, the libraries, the lecture societies etc, were founded and they were developed during inter-war period. Also, during that period the centre of the town was rebuilt, reflecting the Secession style prevailing in Europe and Oradea University.

On October 12, 1918, the leaders of the Romanians form Transylvania adopted the Auto determination Declaration from Oradea, which became the main document read with the occasion of the first of December 1918, when the nowadays Romania National State was created. After the Romanian administration was introduced at December 25-1925, Oradea was pronounced Town. The town, inhabited by a majority of Romanian population, became one of most prosperous towns from economical and cultural point of view .

There were developed industrial branches, Romanian banks and important cultural societies. At present, the town has more than 240.000 inhabitants, which places it among the biggest towns in the country , having a diversified industry in fields such as electricity, chemical industry, aluminium industry mechanics, processing industry, food industry, tourism etc.

Oradea is also a commercial and cultural centre with a great potentiality. Oradea, the biggest town of Bihor county is remarked due to the Secession architectonic style and due to its cultural settlements (the Public Theatre having Romanian and Hungarian sections, the Puppet-theatre, local radio and TV stations, show halls and sport grounds, swimming pools with geothermal water etc.). The free practice of religious belief is reflected in the existence of different churches belonging to the following sects: orthodox, Greek-Catholic, Catholic , Pentecostal etc . There is also a Muslim community formed mainly by students and immigrants.

After December 1989, Oradea aims to prosperity and wealth specific to towns with European tradition. Both culturally and economically, the perspectives of Oradea are inevitably related to the general aspiration of the Romanian society to freedom, democracy and free market economy with varied initiatives in all fields of activity. Due to its specific character, Oradea is one of the most important economic and cultural centres of Western Romania and of the country in general, and one of the great academic centres with a special development dynamics.

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