THE ROMAN-CATHOLIC CHURCH OF ORADEA FORTRESS

THE ROMAN-CATHOLIC CHURCH OF ORADEA FORTRESS

Location: Oradea, 41 Independenţei Square

A provincial baroque architectural monument, located in the northeastern part of the inner city of Oradea, is one of the oldest ecclesiastical buildings of the city. The construction of the baroque church from the Fortress begins in 1775 and arises on the background of the attempts of reconsolidation of the Roman-Catholic worship in the European space, after a long period of Ottoman occupation and the exile of the Roman-Catholic bishop.

In the neighborhood where the Fortress Church is located today, was set, in the time of King Ladislaus I, a monastery around which were raised the fortress’ walls with defensive purpose. Ladislaus I set up the Chapter in Oradea Fortress with an important religious, cultural, social and administrative role. He is also the one who laid the foundations of the Cathedral and the Diocese Palace in the Fortress. The significance of the place increases after the sanctification of King Ladislaus in 1192 by Pope Celestine III. Thus, the Episcopal Cathedral of the Fortress that housed the king’s body becomes in the medieval period a frequented place of pilgrimage in Eastern Europe, where are gathered notable personalities of the era. King Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387-1437) visits the Cathedral and carries on multiple actions for promoting the Saint Ladislaus worship. In the Cathedral and in the City Cemetery were buried, besides Ladislaus I, other iconic figures of royalty: Andrew II, Stephen II, Ladislaus IV the Cuman, Queen Beatrix, Queen Maria, King Sigismund of Luxembourg. During the Reformation, the Cathedral is gradually destroyed. In the eighteenth century, the Roman Catholic Diocese regains its lost status and starts lifting the works of the actual Church.

The building of today’s Baroque Church was originally a chapel of the garrison of the fortress. It also becomes a place of worship for the Roman-Catholics Christians of the town, especially for those speaking German. During the communist regime – for 50 years – the building ceases to be used as a place of worship, its new utility was that of storage. It regains its primary role only in 1992, being now the Roman Catholic Parish Church for Roman Catholic parishioners of Slovak ethnicity from Oradea.

The Church was built was built according to the plans proposed by the engineer-architect Lodovico Marini. Over the years, there are two key periods of restoration.

In 1836, fire that burns important places and buildings of the city, affects in large part the Fortress Church. It was rebuilt in the second half of the 19th century, with the financial support of the Roman Catholic Bishop Francisc Lajcsak. During this period the helmet-roof of bulb shape (Baroque detail) of the tower is replaced with a simpler one, of sheet-metal, in a pyramid shape, which has been preserved to the present day.

Much later, in the years 1991-1992, the Church is going through a new phase of renovation, by interior rearrangement and placement of the modern furniture. A typical Baroque organ is also brought to the Fortress Church where it can be heard today during the Mass. At the same time there were undertaken works for the restoration of frontages.

The monument has a rectangular plan. The main access to the nave is made through the alleyway with cylindrical arch under the bell-tower, and at the west side, is marked the secondary entry in the Church, with a simple stone border. Each frontage of the tower has a big window with semicircular endings in Baroque style, and on the both sides of the building are placed three big identical windows, realized in the same Baroque style, as the rectangular small windows.

Attractions of the Church:

  • The provincial Baroque style
  • The helmet roof in pyramid shape from the Church tower
  • The Baroque organ

Other tourist attractions nearby:

  • Oradea Fortress
  • The Episcopal Orthodox Cathedral of Oradea – “The Resurection of God” (Civic Center)

Sources:

Péter I. Zoltán: 3 secole de arhitectură orădeană, MTCR. Oradea, 2003.
Péter I. Zoltán: Nagyvárad római katolikus templomai, Literatus Nagyvárad, 1992.
Péter I. Zoltán: Nagyvárad építészeti emlékei a barokktól a szecesszióig, Convex Kiadó Nagyvárad, 1998.
Liviu Borcea: Memoria Caselor, Biblioteca Județeană Gheorghe Șincai Oradea Publishing House, 2003.

 

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