Oradea, the Art Nouveau city

The city with a rich Art Nouveau heritage welcomes tourists interested in seeing its many monuments or sampling the life in East-Northern Romania. Close to the border with Hungary, Oradea is the capital of the Bihor county and is well known locally for its proximity to Baile Felix thermal resort, only eight kilometers away. The city stands on the banks of Crișul Repede river, which cuts the city in two.

Starting with February 2012, Oradea is a member of the Art Nouveau cities network, an initiative of the Brussels Region Monuments and Sites Department. The Romanian city is a member alongside other European cities with a rich Art Nouveau heritage such as Helsinki, Barcelona, Glasgow and Budapest. The Art Nouveau decorative art and architecture style was prominent in western Europe and the USA from about 1890 until the First World War and is recognizable by its intricate linear designs and flowing curves. The Art Nouveau network found Oradea’s most impressive capital of artistic and architectural heritage to be the Secession style buildings, palaces built around 1900.

A tour of the city can start in Unirii Square, where the churches and palaces found on site combine seven architectural styles: Baroque, Classicist, Eclectic, Historical, Secession, Romantic and Neo-Romanian. Palatul Vulturul Negru (The Black Eagle Palace) is found here. Built in the Secession style on the former site of the Black Eagle Inn, the construction was meant to host a theater, ball rooms, a casino and offices. It stands out with the Y-shaped passage and the three entrances with floral and figurative motifs.

Biserica cu Luna (The Moon Church) has an astronomical clock depicting the phases of the moon. It was built in the style of late Baroque, with Classicist elements.

The Oradea Fortress is one of the most important late medieval architecture monuments in Transylvania. It was a significant religious, cultural and military landmark in its time.

The Baroque Palace of Oradea, which today hosts the Țara Crișurilor museum, was designed by Viennese architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt with the help of Italian engineer Giovanni Battista Ricca. It is one of the important Art Nouveau monuments in the city. The edifice counts 282 windows on its three levels. The palace belonged to the Roman Catholic bishop until 1945, when the Communist regime took it over. It was returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 2003. The museum hosts four sections: natural sciences, history, ethnography and art.

Standing at the heart of the city is the State Theatre, hosting the Regina Maria Theater and Szigligeti Theater. It was designed by architect Rimanóczy Kálmán Junior with plans by Vienna firm Fellner and Helmer. The two Austrian architects had built around 100 theaters and opera houses in Europe by the end of the 19th century

Various tours can get one acquainted to the city: a tour of churches, its palaces or a tour of the Secession. Oradea is also home to beautiful parks, art galleries, and many sites of rich history and culture to discover.

For a quick visit the option of taking the plane there is available and the Oradea International Airport re-opened in 2015. By car, the city can be reached via E81.

Photo: oradea.travel