THE NEW TOWN REFORMED CHURCH

THE NEW TOWN REFORMED CHURCH

Location: Oradea, 1 Jean Calvin Street

Located at the intersection of Primăriei Street and Jean Clavin Street, The New Town Reformed Church is one of the few buildings of the city built in the classical style which have been preserved until today.

The church was built on a place where previously there was a granary transformed in house of prayer for the Protestants of Calvinist confession, citizens of the New Town. Because the only reformed church in the Olosig neighborhood became too small for the Protestants of Calvinist confession in town it was approved the construction of this religious building in the New Town area.

The cornerstone was laid on 14th of April 1835. The construction works are spread over a period of 18 years, until 1853, being repeatedly disrupted by unfavorable events and lack of funds. The elevation of the two symmetric and imposing towers takes place later, between 1870 and 1871.  The architectural composition of the monument is realized according to the plans of the engineer Szász Jószef.

The largest reformed church of Oradea, build of brick, is characterized by the sober, simple, symmetrical architectural style, with a rectangular plan without hall type sanctuary.

The two bell-towers that reach a height of 45 m give the building a monumental aspect. At the upper level there is a balcony enclosed by a metal balustrade. Until the construction of the palace where today is found the Oradea City Hall, the tower of the Reformed Church served as lookout place over the city. From here, the firefighters warned about the danger of starting and spreading a fire in the city.

Each turn is divided into four registers in the vertical plane, having at the base round windows, and in the superior registers, windows with semicircular ends of different sizes. In the third register of the towers, above the identical double windows, there is the church clock. The towers are covered by the dome shaped helmets.

One of the bells’s Church, present today in the eastern tower, dates from 1909 and has impressive sizes.

There is a gate that allows the main access to the building, and two other secondary entries placed in the lateral axis.

The frontage from the Primăriei Street is a reproduction of a Greek temple, with four Doric columns, an entablement and a triangular tympanum, but also with windows of semicircular termination. The Hungarian inscription engraved on the marble plaque above the main entrance is visible until today:

“The foundations of this holy place were laid by the Oradea Helvetic Church on 13th of April MDCCCXXXV, being finished on the outside in MDCCCLIII.” 
The name of the quarry man and the Hungarian initials of the town are engraved under the inscription:
SLEZINGER JÓS[ef]. N[agy].V[árad]”.

The interior of the Church respects the Classicist style, through sobriety and lack of decorations. The straight ceiling is part of the same simplistic configuration, specific to the architectural style. At the two ends are placed some balconies, one for the organ (choir loft), and the other one for the church choir.

It is a true ecclesiastical monument that dominates the architectural landscape in the center of Oradea.

Attractions of the Church:

  • The eastern tower that can be visited at the following heights: 19m, 26m and 32m
  • The bell from the eastern tower of the Church having a weight of 3.6 tones, the biggest bell in town
  • The organ that dates from 1904, realized in Wegestein factory in Timişoara
  • The frontage realized after the model of Greek temple

Other tourist attractions nearby:

  • The History Museum of the Jews in Oradea (formerly Orthodox Synagogue “Hinech Neorim” 25 Primăriei Street)
  • The Annunciation Orthodox Church
  • The City Hall Palace and the City Hall Tower

Sources:

Péter I. Zoltán: 3 secole de arhitectură orădeană, Oradea, Muzeului Ţării Crişurilor Publishing House, 2003.
Péter I. Zoltán: Nagyvárad 900 évés múltja és épített öröksége (Trecutul de 900 de ani al Oradiei şi moştenirea construită), Budapest, 2005.
Péter I. Zoltán: Mesélő képeslapok. Nagyvárad 1885-1915. Bp., 2002.
Liviu Borcea: Memoria Caselor, Biblioteca Județeană Gheorghe Șincai Publishing House, Oradea, 2003.

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