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Versiunea in Limba Romana

D E U T S C H E Version

A little bit of this nice O R A D E A c i t y...

Oradea, one of the beautiful cities of Eastern Europe, is the entrance gate to Romania, on the Western border, and the capital of the Bihor County. Located on the hills between Crisana Plain and the foot of the Western Carpathians, on the banks of the Crisul Repede River, the town blends nostalgic imprints of the past, magic of nature and wind of change all together.

Petit Paris, as Oradea Mare used to be called in the early 20th century, has the spirit of the belle epoque even today. This feeling is rendered by the architectural Secession style that gives a special elegance to this town, still preserving the atmosphere of the turn of the last century. The town also suggests a long lasting spirit of a community that, for centuries, has been placed at the crossroads of trade routes, at the junction of civilizations, circumscribed to both the Western and the Eastern Worlds.

Nowadays the community of Oradea reveals its awareness about the historical heritage that shaped the development of the town and helped with valuing the transitory interests of the political forces in both Central and South-Eastern Europe. It also displays a good example of cohabitation of different ethnic groups, each of them contributing to the development of a stimulating friendly environment, appropriate for personal achievements.

The location of the town, on the banks of the river Crisul Repede and at the junction of the Western Plain and the lowest hill range of the Apuseni Mountains on the one hand, and on the trade route that linked Western, Central and South-Eastern Europe to the Far East, on the other hand, helped Oradea to become an important political, economical, religious and cultural center. Since prehistoric times, this region has been inhabited by a native population, always ready to make contacts with the human groups passing through, or setting in Oradea.

Facts and figures:

  • area 11,556 ha, the 10th city of Romania

  • population about 222,000 inhabitants

  • Population ethnic structure 65% Romanians, 33% Hungarians, 2% Other (Germans, Jews, Slovaks, Gypsies, etc.)

  • Population religious structure 55% Orthodox, 3% Greek-Catholic, 13% Roman-Catholic, 20% Neo-Protestant, 3% Baptist, 4% Pentecostal, 2% Other

  • Geographical position Western Romania, at the junction of the roads connecting Central and Northern Europe with South-eastern part of the continent

  • 10 km away from Bors, the biggest custom-house on the Western border.


  • Plane, internal return run Bucharest-Oradea (1 hr 15min)

  • Plane, external return runs Verona-Oradea

  • External trains which make the connection with the biggest European capitals

  • International road E60, European road

It has been demonstrated that the area called Oradea-Salca was inhabited by a Thracian population in the Age of Bronze (2200 1150 B.C.), representative of the Otomani culture having its nucleus in Bihor. In the Iron Age (1150 1 B.C.) the place was inhabited by the Daco-Getas tribes belonging to the North Danubian branch of the Thracians led by Burebista for a while (1st century B.C.), during late Antiquity (2nd and 3rd centuries) and up to the 6th century, then by the free Dacians, followed by the Daco-Romans (6th 8th centuries), and eventually by the Romanians, who, during the 9th up to the 11th centuries, were a part of larger statal formations, led by Menumorut , residing in Biharea, near Oradea.

The long lasting process of merging of the Dacian inhabitants with the Romans to settle into the Romanian people was often interrupted by migrants invasions, such as the Huns, Gepids, Avars, and Slavs. Most of the above mentioned groups reached Oradea-Salca area, regarded as the core of the settlement that was to expand later into a medieval town with suburbs.

There is much archaeological evidence dating back to the period before the Middle Ages to demonstrate the permanent contacts that the communities in this part of Romania had with both the West-European and Far Eastern civilizations.

After 1000, Oradea extends its area and turns into the settlement that grants the development of the modern city in the 19th century, based on its commercial and trade activities that will lead to the strengthening of its position as an important business center in Central and South-East Europe. The causes of this spectacular transformation are complex and multiple: first, it is the geographic location of the town, its natural environment forming a communication route with Central Europe via river Crisul Repede; a second cause, related to the first one is the fact that the precincts of the town were permanently inhabited up to the turn of the second millennium. During the 1st millennium, it was Biharia, a place neighboring Oradea that was most important, being the center of the principality during the reign of Menumorut (early 10th century). One must also remember that the Romanian population living in the earthen fortress often barred the Hungarians getting to or crossing Bihor. They had direct relations with the emperor of Byzantium to whom they were religiously subordinated.

The Hungarian Kingdom, the newly imposed political ruler, turned Oradea into an important Catholic center between the 11th and the 13th centuries, and into a religious administrative center by founding the RomanCatholic Bishopric during the reign of king Ladislau I (1077 1095). From now on, Varadinum (Oradea) first mentioned with this toponymy in 1113 acquires more prestige and gets to a higher development than Biharea or other settlements in the region. The conquest of the region and the attempt to catholicize the Romanian population living here made them rise for preserving their Orthodox cult, rejecting the political and ecclesiastical organization of the Western world.

After the Roman conquest of Constantinople in 1204 that led to a marked proselytism in the regions inhabited by Orthodox congregations, they still maintained the Orthodox bishoprics in Bihor, and some other churches of Greek monks on the estate of the RomanCatholic bishopric in Oradea.

The high position that the RomanCatholic bishopric reaches in Oradea, representing the interest of both the Hungarian Kingdom and the papacy, will lead to its gaining a special credit with the Hungarian Kingdom and Transylvania. In those days, the two religious institutions functioned in the existing castrum whose position in the 12 13th centuries urged the move of the center of the medieval town to the place of the future Citadel, surrounded by other districts, a place of permanent changes. The chronicles written about the Citadel, point to the fact that in 1241, during the Tartar invasion of Oradea, the clay fortress had an ovoid form, as mentioned by monk Rogerius in his Carmaen miserabile. After the siege, the local authorities had to think of reconstructing the Citadel and of turning it into a fortified place and a symbol of the ruling power. Thus, after repeated restorations in the 16th century, after the battle of Mohacs (1526) and the setting of the pashalik at Buda (1540), the Transylvanian princes thought out the vast project of erecting a solid fortress in Oradea, to oppose resistance to the Turkish invasion.

The period of the Turkish rule (1660 - 1692) was rather calm because the new rulers were interested in maintaining cordial relationships with the inhabitants of Oradea, with the obvious purpose of granting social daily peacefulness. The administration of Oradea will be transferred for 30 years to the pasha of Oradea, also appointed captain of the Fortress. Consequently, the local authorities are replaced by Turkish officials, appointed to control the administration of the town and a Turkish military personnel is created and a new religious structure will emerge to answer their belief.

The annexation to the Habsburg Empire in 1692, after the victory against the Turks, is a crucial moment in the process of promoting the characteristic principles of the modern age. The new policy in the field of administration, economy, finances, culture and religion focuses on consolidating the state centralism to provide complete control over the territories now belonging to the Court in Vienna. One of the first steps to take was to reinstate the Catholic Church in Central Europe, hence the Roman-Catholic Bishopric in Oradea as well.

For more than 200 years, until 1918, the town had many territorial changes, different settlements that had been cooperating for centuries being unified eventually as Oradea Mare. The 19th century was a decisive one regarding the development of the settlement lying on the banks of the river Crisul Repede from the condition of a medieval town to that of a city, defined by its modern urban conception, public and institutional utilities. This orientation get gradually shaped in parallel with the territorial-administrative unification. After 1860, Oradea Mare consisted of the four old towns : Oradea-Olosig, Oradea-Orasul Nou, Oradea-Subcetate and Oradea-Velenta, having a population of 18,404 inhabitants (Hungarians, Romanians, Germans, Jews, etc.) in 1850. The next step was to gain the status of municipality (1870), but until they reach this status, the municipal council consisting of members of the civilian society, strove for the completion of the single administration, and later, the consolidation of the economical and administrative autonomy as against the Roman-Catholic Bishopric and Capitulum who were still holding the monopoly over the market and commercial activity income.

After 1918, with its new geo-political condition, the city gets integrated into the administrative structure of the unified country, Romania Mare, characteristic to the period between the two world wars, and becomes the district main city. The drawing near of World War II has negative effects upon the stability within the community of Oradea, influencing its destiny in terms of the annexation- for a short time - of the city to the Hungarian State. By the Diktat of Vienna (August 30th 1940), the North-Western part of Romania is annexed to Hungary and it will remain like this until October 25th 1944, when this region is liberated by the Romanian and Soviet troops from under the Hungarian-German occupation. Oradea is set free on October 12th in the same year, becomes again part of Romania, a communist state now, and is reconfirmed as a regional main city on March 9th 1945; later, in 1964, it becomes the main city of Bihor, a political status that makes it less accessible to newcomers settling down. The Revolution in 1989 determines no changes in the administrative status of the city, but it brings about radical changes in the election-system of the city council. The mayors of the city are elected freely by the community, with no interference of any supreme power.

Facts and figures:

  • The area known as Oradea-Salca was already inhabited by a Thracian population in the Age of Bronze (2200-1150 B.C.)

  • In 1113 Varadinum (Oradea) was first mentioned with this toponymy

  • The Fortress first built between 1092-1095, destroyed by the Tartars in 1241, fortified in the second half of 16th century

  • Between 11th and 13th centuries, Oradea turned into an important Catholic and religious administrative center, by the foundation of the Roman-Catholic Bishopric during the reign of King Ladislas I (1077-1095)

  • Turkish rule between 1660 and 1692

  • 1692 annexation to the Habsburg Empire

  • 1870 Oradea Mare, municipality rank

  • October 12, 1944, Oradea was set free by Romanian and Soviet troops, from the Hungarian-German occupation
    democratic election of the mayor and city council

Undoubtedly, a crucial moment in the life of the modern city was the enforcement of the agreement between the Municipal Council and Roman-Catholic Church representatives, at the end of the 19th century, the latter giving-up the century-old right of amassing incomes from customs taxes and fees paid for annual and weekly markets participation. The city gradually got aware, at the level of both its leadership and community, of the necessity to devise a strategy that enables the city to anchor, institutionally, and economically, to a pattern that was acknowledged by the state they belonged to, and to provide living conditions to answer the demands of community in Oradea.

This final idea related to the local authoritiesplan to modernize the streets according to an urban project, meant to value both the older and newer buildings. Around the year 1900, a building project became operational, eventually materialized in erecting residences with economical, institutional (educational and cultural), religious, and mostly, habitational purposes. The aim of this approach, often spoken about at that time, was to grant Oradea Mare the status of a European city, that is, to satisfy the peoples daily demands of comfort, both artificial and natural, to promote economical and cultural activities that may generate prosperity and spiritual accomplishments.

The communist regime in Romania collapses on December 22nd 1989 and the newly created political situation enables Oradea to rediscover its European vocation in terms of cultural and economical areas, to regain its status of a city placed at the junction of multiple routes : Romania western gate to Europe, the Occidents Eastern gate to South-Eastern Europe and the Far East. It has a privileged position in the present and looks hopefully to the future. The political, economical, social, ethnic and religious upheavals in Romania in the last 10 years have slightly affected Oradea, too, but its community eventually proved to be wise; the town has room for every ethnic community living here : Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Jews, Slovaks, Gypsies etc. The private property has developed , supplying welfare; the social problems are fewer than in other cities of Romania, but they still exist. The cultural emulation gained back its former consistency, and the religious cults tried to offer a background of tolerance and openness to communication.

At the beginning of the 3rd millennium, Oradea is a city living under the sign of creed, of its churches, of a civilian society wishing, more than ever, to live its present and future with dignity.

Facts and figures:

  • 1852 - streets lightening, for the first time

  • 1870 - streets lightening by gas lamps

  • 1902 1903 the City Hall is built

  • 1903 the Power Plant is built

  • 1906 first tram lines

  • 1906 first water/ waste water network

  • 1913 the first streets are laid with asphalt

Some of the nowadays city priorities:

  • social protection development

  • ring road/ infrastructure

  • ecological landfill

  • district heating system rehabilitation

  • water/ waste water network rehabilitation

  • preservation of cultural inheritance, fortress

  • parks, green spots, water front and pedestrian area revitalization

Due to the excellent geographical position, Oradea thrived economically and traded actively since old times, this being testified by the existence of many guilds organized according to their distinct profiles and by several fairs where merchants all over Europe and Middle East frequently gathered to sell their goods.

The early flourishing economic and business activities, which later became tradition, were taken over by the generations to come. Enterprising people promoted industrial profiles, factories that produced agricultural equipment, building materials, beer, alcohol, light industry goods. An important role in stimulating the development of the city was held by the banking and credit institutions with Hungarian, German, and Romanian capital mostly created after 1850.

Nowadays, businessmen looking for reliable partners, willing to invest or conquer new markets for their products, may find in Oradea the proper place to start with. Here exist more than ten thousand private companies covering a wide economic variety: industry, transportation, manufacturing, services and agriculture. A businessman should not necessarily stick to one of the existing local industrial branches because Oradea should alternatively be considered the rich soil that is able to excellently respond to any seed of sound initiative.

Facts and figures:

  • more than 10,000 companies registered in Oradea

  • recently, in Bihor was registered the 25,000th company

  • the main branches: food processing, manufacturing industry (textile, footwear, ready-made clothes, leather clothing), wood processing, chemical, energetic, building materials, machinery construction, transportation, commerce, communication, real estate

  • qualified personnel available

Oradea is also an important social and cultural center, the oldest humanist city in Transylvania. The steps taken in the religious and cultural fields were meant, among other things, to promote the setting up of both a denominational and a state school system in the region. The Royal Academy, opened in 1780, is an example of the way education was encouraged here, being the first step to college education in Oradea, by studying philosophy at the beginning, then adding it a law school in 1788. The Law School worked without interruption until 1934 and we have now in Oradea the most dynamic University in the country.

Among the many cultural organizations of old times, it is worth mentioning the following: Nicolae Jigas and Emanuil Gojdu foundations meant to help Orthodox Romanians to get educated and cultivated; Societatea de lectura a tinerimii romane din Oradea Mare (The Romanian Youth Reading Society in Oradea), that fought for promoting its personal literary activity; The Bihor Society for Archaeology and History (1871) whose members laid the foundation of the museum in Oradea (1896); ASTRA (The Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and the Culture of the Romanian People), founded in Oradea in 1867 with the support of Iosif Vulcan, Nicolae Zigre, dr. Aurel Lazar, Nicolae Jiga; the Hilaria choir (1875), so important in the musical life of the community; The Associations of Music Fans in Oradea Mare (1890), meant to revive the musical life in the city; The Szigligeti Society (1891) supporting fine arts and communal libraries by its members, among them being Iosif Vulcan and Ady Endre; the Holnap Society , beginning to function from 1908 in order to encourage Hungarian literature, especially through its member, the poet Ady Endre.

The press essentially contributed to the shaping of a cultural climate even if the political and educational institutions tended to focus on the past history. That is why the endeavour of Iosif Vulcan and Ady Endre, outstanding personalities of Oradea of that age is so much the more praiseworthy as it was meant to serve their own nations by a mutually respectful cultural offer. In 1865, the former published the most important Romanian cultural magazine in Transylvania, Familia, which hosted the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescus debut under this authorship; the latter was the most important Hungarian poet of the 20th century, collaborator to Nagyvaradi Naplo, together with other Hungarian writers and scholars, among them, Tabery Geza.

The current cultural scene implies performances, classical concerts, exhibitions and fares. The most significant events are organized under the Fortess Days, in each July and the Fall Festival, highlighted by Oradea Day, on October 12.

Facts and figures:

  • Tarii Crisurilor Museum, a baroque palace built between 1762-1777 by the Austrian architect F.A.Hillebrandt; its destination was as Roman-Catholic Episcopal Palace and has as many windows as the year days, 365, and 120 rooms

  • The State Theatre, 1899-1900, with performances of Romanian and Hungarian theatres departments

  • The State Symphony Orchestra

  • The University with 15 faculties, 3 colleges and 2 research centers (geo-thermal waters and medical) and more than 20,000 students

At the turn of the 20th century, Oradea Mare succeeded to have several buildings, which, from the very beginning, differed so much by the particular facades and coverings, by the inner functional structure (high-ceilinged rooms, yards with external corridors, highly polished rooms), relevant for the citizenstaste in those days, creating a specific environment, if we consider that most of them belong to the Secession style, meant to express an innovative aesthetic tendency in almost all fine arts and architecture. The joint between the arts of 1900 and a Europe-patterned everyday life, characterized by a conspicuously Bohemian attitude, by an outburst of energies, lurking for centuries in the shade of a mentality that could not give up submissiveness, will strongly influence human behaviour.

The urban reality of the past century is identifiable even today, in buildings of various styles, baroque, classicist, eclectic, secession, in the central area, which give the city an aura of originality:

  • The County Library Gheorghe Sincai, 1903, initially Bishopric Greek-Catholic Palace, 1903-1904

  • The Church with moon, built in 1784

  • The Roman-Catholic Cathedral, the greatest baroque monument in Romania, is part of one of the largest baroque architectural unit of this kind in Central and South-Eastern Europe, together with Episcopal Palace and Hermits Row

  • The Black Eagle Palace, 1907-1909 with the stained glass passage

  • The Apollo Palace, 1912-1914

  • The Astoria Hotel, 1902 (Emke Palace)

The geographical position, the rich history, the beauty of the buildings together with the geo-thermal water with their miraculous healing effects favor the tourism potential, recreation and entertainment.
Hotels and restaurants of high quality, nightclubs, stylish bars, pubs and discos, parks and gyms could offer moments of relaxation and a good time together with family or friends. The Romanian cuisine is a pleasant surprise, it is said that cater to all tastes. But you can find also restaurants with other specific: Hungarian, Italian, Irish, American, Greek or Chinese.

An obvious advantage of Oradea is the marvelous surroundings. Baile Felix and Baile 1 Mai, two famous resorts renown for their spas with geo-thermal waters, can be reached in a ten minute ride from town.

An alternative is a two-hour trip in the Apuseni Mountains, to the Bears Cave, a treasure for speologists and a delight for tourists, were can be admired unique karstic relief form and also the relics of Ursus Spelaeus, a species which disappeared more than 150.000 years ago, whose bones and skeletons are spread all over the place.

Stina de Vale, is in the area also, 80 km from Oradea, both a winter holiday resort, with skying tracks for those fond of winter sports and a summer resort, perfect for one or more days hiking or driving towards the most picturesque tourism locations. In any season, the calcareous mountains offer unforgettable images of a genuine natural environment where trees, streams and caves are a delight for body, eye and soul.

Facts and figures:

  • Baile Felix and Baile 1 Mai: hotels with all modern conveniences, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, health care facilities and lakes with the rare Nimphae lotus thermalis

  • Apuseni Mountains: Bears Cave, Stina de Vale, Yellow Valley, Padis, Ponor Citadel and many others.

As everyone may notice, Oradea is a city open to many opportunities and interests, for it is a place to attract the holiday-makers, a university center awaiting students, Romanian or foreign, for summer or regular courses, and a propitious field to developing business and industrial activities.

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