— County capital —
Coat of arms
Coordinates: Coordinates: Country Romania County Bihor County Status County capital Government – Mayor Ilie Gavril Bolojan (National Liberal Party) Area – County capital 156.2 km2 (60.3 sq mi) Population  – County capital 204,477 – Density 1,858/km2 (4,812.2/sq mi) – Metro 245,832 Time zone EET (UTC+2) – Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3) Website http://www.oradea.ro/
Oradea (Romanian pronunciation: [oˈrade̯a]; German: Großwardein, Hungarian: Nagyvárad, Hungarian pronunciation: [nɒɟvaːrɒd], colloquially also Várad, former Turkish: Varat, Yiddish: גרויסווארדיין Groysvardeyn) is the capital city of Bihor County, in the Crișana region of north-western Romania. The city has a population of 204,477, according to the 2009 estimates. The wider Oradea metropolitan area has a total population of 245,832.
The city lies at the meeting point of the Crișana plain and the Crișul Repede's basin. It is situated 126 meters above sea level, surrounded on the north-eastern part by the hills of Oradea, part of the Șes hills. The main part of the settlement is situated on the floodplain and on the terraces situated down the river Crișul Repede. Oradea is famous for its thermal springs. The river Crişul Repede crosses the city right in the center, providing it with a picturesque beauty. Its output depends on the season; the dykes near Tileagd have partly controlled it ever since they were built in the early 1980s.
Climate data for Oradea Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Average high °C (°F) 1.4
Average low °C (°F) −5.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 39.5
Source: Administrația Natională de Meteorologie
Oradea, 12 km from the Hungarian border, dates back to a small 10th century castle, while its bishopric was founded during the 11th century by King Ladislaus I of Hungary. The first documented mention of its name was in 1113 under the Latin name Varadinum ("vár" means fortress in Hungarian). The city flourished during the 13th century. The Citadel of Oradea, the ruins of which remain today, was first mentioned in 1241 during the Mongol invasion. The 14th century was one of the most prosperous periods in the city's life. Statues of St. Stephen, Emeric and Ladislaus (before 1372) and the equestrian sculpture of St. Ladislaus (1390) were erected in Oradea. St. Ladislaus' fabled statue was the first proto-renaissance public square equestrian in Europe. Bishop Andreas Báthori (1329–1345) rebuilt the cathedral in Gothic style. From that epoch dates also the Hermes, now preserved at Györ, which contains the skull of King Ladislaus, and which is a masterpiece of the Hungarian goldsmith's art.
Georg von Peuerbach worked at the Observatory of Varadinum, using it as the reference or prime meridian of Earth in his Tabula Varadiensis, published posthumously in 1464.
In 1474 the city was devastated by the Turks. It was not until the 16th century that Oradea started growing as an urban area. The Peace of Várad was concluded between Ferdinand I and János Szapolyai here on February 4, 1538, in which they mutually recognized each other to be king. In the 18th century, the Viennese engineer Franz Anton Hillebrandt planned the city in the Baroque style and, starting from 1752, many landmarks were constructed such as the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, presently the Muzeul Țării Crișurilor ("The Museum of the Crișland").
After the Ottoman invasion of Hungary in the 16th century, the city was administered at various times by the Principality of Transylvania, the Ottoman Empire, and the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1598, the fortress was besieged and, on August 27, 1660, Oradea fell to the Turks and became the capital of Varat Province. This eyalet had Varat (Oradea), Salanta, Debreçin (formerly part of Budin and Eğri Eyalets), Halmaș, Sengevi and Yapıșmaz sanjaks. The siege is described in detail by Szalárdy János in his contemporary chronicle. The city was seized by the Habsburg-led German-Hungarian-Croatian forces in September 1692. The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 played an important role in the city's history. It was the home of largest Hungarian arms factory while Debrecen was the temporary seat of the Hungarian government.
In the second half of the 19th century literary nicknames for the town included "Hungarian Compostela", "Felix civitas", "Paris on the River Pece", "the City of Tomorrow", "Athens on the Körös", and "the City of Yesterday". These nicknames are not widely used today, although "Paris on the River Pece" is still utilized sometimes.
As a consequence of Hungary's role in World War I, the Treaty of Trianon awarded Oradea to the Kingdom of Romania. Under the Second Vienna Award brokered by Hitler and Mussolini in 1940, Hungary reoccupied North Transylvania, including Oradea, but, being on the losing side again, had to relinquish claims to it under the Treaty of Paris concluded on February 10, 1947.
In 1925 the status of municipality was given to Oradea dissolving its former civic autonomy. Under the same ordinance its name was changed from Oradea Mare ("Great" Oradea) to simply Oradea.
Ethnic tensions sometimes ran high in the area in the past but the different ethnic groups now generally live together in harmony, thriving on each other's contributions to modern culture. There are many mixed Romanian-Hungarian families in Oradea, with children assimilating into both of their parents' cultures and learning to speak both languages.
After December 1989, Oradea aims to achieve greater prosperity along with other towns in Central Europe. Both culturally and economically, Oradea's prospects are inevitably tied to the general aspiration of Romanian society to freedom, democracy and a free market economy, with varied initiatives in all fields of endeavor. Due to its specific character, Oradea is one of the most important economic and cultural centers of Western Romania and of the country in general, and one of the great academic centers, with a unique bilingual dynamic.
- This section incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.
The chevra kadisha ("holy society") was founded in 1735, the first synagogue in 1803, and the first communal school in 1839. Not until the beginning of the 19th century were Jews permitted to do business in any other part of the city, and even then they were required to return at nightfall to their own quarter. In 1835 permission was granted to live in any part of the city.
The Jewish community of Oradea became divided into Orthodox and Reform congregations. While the members of the Reform congregation still retained their membership in the chevra kadisha, they started to use a cemetery of their own in 1899. In the early 20th century, the Jews of Oradea had won prominence in the public life of the city. There were Jewish manufacturers, merchants, lawyers, physicians and farmers; the chief of police (1902) was a Jew; and in the municipal council, the Jewish element was proportionately represented. The community possessed, in addition to the hospital and chevra kadisha, a Jewish women's association, a grammar school, a trade school for boys and girls, a yeshiva, a soup kitchen etc.
According to the Center for Jewish Art:
The Oradea Jewish community was once the most active both commercially and culturally in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1944, twenty-five thousand Oradean Jews were deported to concentration camps by the Nazis, thus decimating this vital community. Only three hundred Jews reside in Oradea today. In the center of the city, on the river bank and towering over other buildings in the area, is the large Neolog Temple Synagogue built in 1878. The unusual cube-shaped synagogue with its large cupola is one of the largest in Romania. Inside there is a large organ and stucco decorations. In 1891, the Orthodox community also built a complex of buildings including two synagogues and a community center.
Descendants of the pre-Holocaust hasidic rabbinate in Oradea established a synagogue in the Willowbrook area of Staten Island, New York. The synagogue maintains both a traditional hasidic Nusach Sefard and a Nusach Ashkenaz service, the latter of which operates under the name Bais Medrash Igud Avreichim of Groisverdain (the Yiddish pronunciation of Grosswardein).
- 1096 Ladislaus I of Hungary
- 1131 Stephen II of Hungary
- 1235 Andrew II of Hungary
- 1295 Fenenna, wife of Andrew III of Hungary
- 1319 Beatrix of Luxemburg, wife of Charles I of Hungary
- 1367 Elisabeth, daughter of Basarab I of Wallachia
- 1395 Mary of Hungary
- 1437 Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary
After the 2008 local government elections the mayor is Ilie Gavril Bolojan (National Liberal Party). Deputy-mayors are: Gheorghe Carp (National Liberal Party) and Rozália Ibolya Biró (Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania). The local administration is governed by a coalition formed by the National Liberal Party and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania.
Since June 2008 the party composition of the Municipal Council of Oradea has been the following:
Party Seats Succeeding Council National Liberal Party 10 Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania 7 Democratic-Liberal Party 7 Social Democratic Party 3
Historical population of Oradea Year Population %± Romanian Hungarian 1787 9,790 — n/a n/a 1830 19,091 95% n/a n/a 1857 22,443 17.5% n/a n/a 1880 31,324 39.5% 6.5% 86.8% 1900 47,018 50.1% n/a n/a 1912 census 64,169 36.4% 5.6% 91% 1930 census 82,687 28.8% 27.1% 51.5% 1948 census 82,282 −0.4% 32.8% 63.8% 1956 census 98,950 20.2% 35.9% 59% 1966 census 122,534 23.8% 46% 51.3% 1977 census 170,531 39.1% 53.9% 44% 1992 census 222,741 30.6% 64.7% 33.3% 2002 census 206,614 −7.2% 70.3% 27.5% 2010 estimate 204,882 −0.8% n/a n/a
According to the last census, from 2002, there were 206,614 people living within the city of Oradea, making it the 11th largest city in Romania. The ethnic makeup is as follows:
Before 1848, Oradea was made up of 4 separate towns: Várad-Újváros (Villa Nova, former Vicus Szombathely), Várad-Olaszi (Villa Latinorum Varadiensium, "olasz" meaning Italian), Várad-Velence (Vicus Venetia), Várad-Váralja (Civitas Waradiensis). The names Vicus Venetia, Villa Latinorum, Vicus Bolognia, Vicus Padua and others refer to the French, Walloons and Italian inhabitants who settled in the 13th century.
Today the city is made up of the following districts called quarters (cartiere in Romanian, negyedek in Hungarian):
- Ioşia Nord;
- Episcopia Bihor;
The quarter named Vie is also known as Podgoria. "Vie" and "podgorie" mean the same thing in Romanian: vineyard.
Districts of Oradea
Oradea has long been one of the more prosperous cities in Romania, due mainly to its location on the Hungarian border, making it a gateway towards Western Europe. The per capita GDP of Oradea is approximately 150% of the Romanian average. After 1989, due to its important base of consumers, Oradea enjoyed an economic renewal, not so much in industry but rather in the services sector such as trade and tourism.
Despite this, a survey by Capital Magazine named Oradea as the least dynamic city in Romania with a population over 150,000, falling behind its neighbors Cluj-Napoca, Arad and Timişoara. In particular, the city was criticized for high taxes, poor infrastructure and a lack of a clear development strategy.
Oradea has an unemployment rate of 6.0%, slightly lower than the Romanian average but much higher than Bihor County's average of around 2%. Oradea currently produces around 63% of the industrial production of Bihor County while accounting for 34.5% of the population of the county. Its main industries are furniture, textiles and clothing, footwear and food processing.
The public transport network is run by OTL, a municipal agency. It is made up of three tram lines (1R, 1N, 2, 3R, 3N) and ten bus lines (numbered from 10 to 19). The city has four train stations: Central, West, East and Episcopia Bihor (Bihor Abbey). The West Station is located in the quarter of Ioşia, the Central station (called simply Oradea) is located closer to the city center, near the quarter of Vie, while the East station is located in Velenţa.
Oradea is served by Oradea International Airport, which has flights from major Romanian cities as well as some cities in northern Italy.
Oradea is one of the main education centers of Romania. The city is home to the University of Oradea, one of the largest and most modern universities in the country. There are also several private universities, one being Agora University, a modern academic institution founded in 2000. Emanuel University, a Baptist school, also exists in the city since 2002. One of the oldest private universities in Romania is also situated in Oradea. The Sulyok István Reform College was founded in the spring of 1990 by the Királyhágómelléki Reform Church. In 1999 the school became entirely independent from the Protestant Theology College of Cluj-Napoca and changed its name to Partium Christian University. It presently operates with 12 faculties and a student body of 1400; the language of instruction is Hungarian.
FC Bihor, founded in 1958, is the city's representative in the Romanian football system, currently playing in Liga II. It is, indirectly, the successor to the historic Clubul Atletic Oradea (CA Oradea), founded in 1910. Famously, after the annexation of Northern Transylvania by Hungary during WW II, the football club played in the Hungarian Championship under the Hungarian translation Nagyváradi Atlétikai Club (NAC), and won the championship at the end of the 1943-1944 season. CA Oradea is one of only two football clubs who played and won national championships in two countries (the other one is SK Rapid Wien).
During the communist years a series of clubs represented the city in the 1st, 2nd and briefly in the 3rd division, under the names Libertatea, IC Oradea, Progresul, Crişul, CS Oradea and Crişana, with varying degrees of success, but winning only one Romanian Cup title, won by Progresul in 1956. The current FC Bihor Oradea has been playing primarily in Liga II; club colors are red and blue, and the logo includes the year 1902, when the first football match was played in Oradea in Réday Park. The most famous players who wore the white-and-green jersey of earlier teams from Oradea were Francisc Ronnay, Iuliu Bodola - who played international football for both Hungary and Romania in the 30's - and Elemér Berkessy. Oradea's 18,000 seat football stadium bears Bodola's name today.
Oradea's architecture is a mix of Communist-era apartment buildings, mainly in the outer quarters, and beautiful historical buildings that are remnants of the era when the city was part of Austria-Hungary. In addition to many Baroque buildings, Oradea is remarkable for its particularly rich collection of Art Nouveau architecture.
During the Communist period and in the first years of Romania's post-Communist transition, many of the historical buildings became derelict or were deteriorating. After 2002, when Romania entered into an economic boom, many historical buildings in the city were restored to their previous state and currently the city gives off a very historic and well-maintained feel.
Other sites worth visiting are:
- Baroque Palace of Oradea – today Muzeul Ţării Crişurilor, a wonderful Baroque museum with 365 famous windows. It was the Roman Catholic bishop's palace until 1945, when the Communist regime took the building into public ownership. It was returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 2003. Its collection includes many fossils of dinosaurs and birds from the bauxite mines at Cornet-Brusturi.
- Catedrala barocă – the biggest Baroque cathedral in Romania,
- Cetatea Oradea - Oradea's Fortress, with a pentagonal shape, is a fortification with walls of rock on some portions and wood towers situated at the gate and at the corners.
- Biserica cu Lună – a church unique in Europe, with an astronomical clock depicting the phases of the moon,
- Pasajul Vulturul Negru – the "Black Eagle Palace" (or "Eagle Palace") shopping galleria, named after its famous stained glass eagle in the ceiling
- Ady Endre Museum - a museum dedicated to one of the greatest Hungarian poets and a native son,
- Teatrul de Stat – the State Theater in the heart of the city, plans for which were designed by two Austrian architects who had built around 100 theaters and opera houses in Europe by the end of the 19th century,
- Str. Republicii – one of the most beautiful streets of Transylvania, displaying a great number of Art Nouveau buildings,
- There are also some 100 religious sites of different denominations in Oradea, including three synagogues (only one still in use) and the biggest Baptist church in Eastern Europe.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Oradea is twinned with:
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