The students of our Multilingualism and Multiculturalism MA program invite you to visit the cultural heritage of Oradea. In this project we present the Fortress of Oradea.
The Fortress is among the city’s most emblematic buildings, after the Black Eagle Palace and the Episcopal Palace. The creaky bridge leading to the Fortress creaks beneath our footsteps, thrilling us. It reminds us of how many people might have walked on such bridges before. We look down on the moat surrounding the Fortress, as if we could see the water in it, embracing and protecting the walls. Stepping through the imposing gates, armored knights await our arrival.
It is known that in 1241 a hillfort stood in the Fortress’ place, surrounded by wooden constructions. Between 1247-1569, a circle-shaped stronghold was built in its stead. It acquired today’s form between 1570-1618. The Fortress has a pentagonal shape, encircled by a moat, and its corners rimmed with bastions. Through the moat a wooden bridge leads us inside (“Nagyvárad, a vár” n.p). The Fortress has two courtyards and two exits. Even until today, its style shows the signs of Italian architecture. The Fortress’s architect was named Giulio Cesare Baldigara. Between 1092-1557, it was under the authority of the Roman-Catholic Diocese. During this time it became a significant religious centre. In-between its walls a library, an observatory, a printing company, and a school operated once (“Nagyváradi vár” n.p). In the adjoining Catholic Church and cemetery a number of sovereigns were laid to their final rest: King Saint Ladislaus, King Andrew II, King Stephen II, Queen Beatrix, the second wife of Carol I, Sigismund Báthory, and his wife, Queen Mary (Dukrét and Péter 12).
The edifice was not only an Episcopal seat, but it also acquired the function of a fortress, protecting its people from the enemy. The enemy could only take the still standing stonewalls only twice: in 1598 and 1660, both times by the Ottomans.
Nowadays, the people of the city try to make use of the Fortress as much as possible. It hosts the summer theatre, an open-air cinema, numerous exhibitions, as well as various festivals. Presumably, the most significant event is the Saint Ladislaus Days, held for several years now. During the three-day-long event, the citizens commemorate Hungarian traditions, and visit the Fortress to admire various handmade goods, puppetry, performances, concerts, pottery- and craft sessions. Furthermore, it hosts several exhibitions every year, including the graduate students’ thesis project exhibition from Partium Christian University’s Department of Arts.
The history of the Fortress, just like the city’s, is closely connected to King Saint Ladislaus I.
The king’s last request was to be buried in Nagyvárad (Oradea). Because the king died in Nyitra (Nitra), and the time’s weather conditions (great heat) did not make it possible to transport the body to Nagyvárad (Oradea), the mourners chose the closest city, Székesfehérvár, as the king’s eternal resting place. According to the legend, God performed yet another miracle with our king, and “the cart carrying the saint king’s body headed towards Nagyvárad, alone, without any animals pulling it” (“Szent László király élete” n.p). Thus happened that the king was buried in Nagyvárad (Oradea), as it was his will. Today a symbolic Saint Ladislaus tombstone commemorates the place of his burial (“Nagyváradi vár” n.p).
At the end of our visit and on our way home, we, again, cross the bridge that still creaks beneath our feet. Now, full of memories from the historical time travel, we hope many will follow our footsteps on the bridge into the Fortress, and back into Hungarian history.
-. “Nagyváradi vár.” Lovagkirály – Szent László örökség-út. Lovagkiraly.org. 2020, n.p. Web. 10 May, 2020.
-. “Nagyvárad, a vár.” Welcome to Romania. Welcometoromania.eu. N.d, n.p. Web. 10 May, 2020.
Dukrét, Géza and Péter I. Zoltán. Nagyvárad városismertető. Nagyvárad: Partiumi Kiadó, 2006. Print.
Karácson, Imre Dr . Szent László élete. Győr: Győregyházmegye könyvnyomdája, 1895. Web. 13 May, 2020.
Sources of photos: pixabay.com and own photos
Multilingualism and multiculturalism MA program, PCU