One of my favorite cities is Oradea, a treasure of a city in northwestern Romania located near the Hungarian border. Not only does the city shine at its former glory due to the excellent restoration works, but it also hosts a multitude of cultural elements and becomes alive through the various cultural events. These are the reasons I fell in love with this city. And there is no place where this evidence is better stored than at marvelous Oradea Fortress. Through the centuries, Oradea was the target of different powers and the fort was veiled with a series of legends. But what does the fortress tells us about the history of this marvelous place?
The first mentioning of Oradea Fortress dates back to the 12th century. King Ladislaus the Holy was the one who built the first monastery here, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The medieval fortification was built about 1241, and the walls of the fort were also dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Tatars conquered the fortress, followed by the Turks later on, and the Habsburgs troops recovered the fortress in 1692. And every conqueror left a mark in the history of this place.
The archeological evidence shows the existence of a Gothic palace in the fortress of Oradea, dating back to 1307. There are also the parts of a once glorious Gothic cathedral to be found here. But the numerous attacks left its page in the history of this place, and the Gothic period was almost erased.
Built after the plans of Giacomi Resti, the Renaissance palace is one of the most imposing buildings one can admire in Oradea Fortress. The palace was constructed between 1620 and 1629 and between 1638 and 1648. The palace unites all the standing bastions.
As you may expect, the fortress was defended by a series of bastions built between the 16th and 18th century. Don’t worry, the various destructions weren’t severe enough and all five bastions – the Crăișorul Bastion, the Golden Bastion, the Red Bastion, the Bethlen Bastion, and the Ciunt Bastion, are still standing, and one can visit them.
Located where the first church built by Ladislaus the Holy used to stand, a Roman Catholic Church was created in Baroque style, after the plans of Lodovico Marini between 1775 and 1777. It is also the place where King Ladislaus the Holy is considered to be buried.
Today, the fortress functions as the Institute of Visual Arts of the University of Oradea. One can just enjoy a walk and admire it’s beauty, participate at medieval festivals or just visit the old Astronomical Observatory, another piece of history that determined the Zero Meridian in this place between 1445 and 1667. This marvelous Oradea Fortress, is surely worth visiting!
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