Arad - the failed Budapest of Romania
Perhaps the most undervalued country of Europe in terms of travel is still Romania! Most try to transit it as quickly as possible by the way from east to west or from north to south. But usually the intersection of this country is delayed due to the narrow mountain roads and the nightmarish traffic. Because of this, there is usually nothing to remember about Romania for not frequent exceptions.
I personally discovered this country only in February of this year. The whole family we came here purposefully, but did not climb over the mountains, did not look at the local castles, did not wander along the Bucharest streets and did not even visit the Black Sea coast. By the will of fate and the wonderful price of tickets from Wizzire, we found ourselves in a local wilderness, located at the junction of the borders between Serbia, Hungary and Romania itself. Let's just say, places are not the most wildly popular among tourists! But the more interesting was the trip, which opened this country to us a little differently.
I want to open a series of Romanian stories by Arad(Arad)- an amazing city that a hundred years ago could compete in terms of standard of living and industrial growth with Budapest or even Vienna. But the miracle did not happen, now it is a little-known Romanian hole with a curving economy, rapidly declining population and no special prospects for the future.
Oh, and it could be very different! Take a look for yourself!
Our journey in Romania began and ended with the city of Timisoara. A curious place, which I will definitely tell you. Arad is located 50 kilometers from this city. Just half an hour away by rental car!
Once these cities competed with each other, but now Arad is hopelessly behind its neighbor, both in the number of tourists and in the level of the economy. But at the same time, there remained a lot of interesting evidence of recent rapid development and prosperity.
One of the mandatory goals on this trip was an attempt to see the local fortress. This huge structure in the form of a regular multi-pointed star was built by the Austrians about 250 years ago. It was built according to standard designs of the time, developed by the legendary French engineer Monsieur.By Sebastian Le Prert de Vauban.
All the masterpieces of fortification art of the last century one way or another connected with this name. I happened to see his original creations in France andtell alreadysomehow about this.
The fortress in Arad was built on the site of earlier fortifications. For many centuries, in these regions, there was a border, if it is possible, so to speak, between the civilized west and the wild east.
At first the fortifications in this place were built by the Hungarians after the Tatar-Mongol invasion about eight centuries ago. Then the Ottoman Empire somewhere here stopped its rapid absorption of the territories of Europe and consolidated itself with the help of an updated fortress. Well, a little more than 300 years ago, the Austrian Habsburgs reigned on these lands.
The construction of a powerful fortress gave impetus to the development of the city. Arad from a quiet border province in a short time turned into the largest economic and cultural center of the entire region. I don’t know by chance, but it was precisely at the same time that the Jewish community began to grow in the city. It can also be considered an accident that with her disappearance, economic problems began in the city. But it happened much later ...
Over the next hundred years the city was transformed.Luxurious buildings, mansions, banks, theaters, educational institutions and even their own conservatory - all the elements of a large metropolis were available. Such giants as Franz Liszt and Johann Strauss visited here with concerts.
Then, in 1848-1849, the Hungarian Revolution happened and Arad was taken by storm, becoming for some time an important center of the rebels. We know little about that revolution. But Russia took an active part in the suppression of the national uprising, in fact saved the Austrian empire and the Hapsburgs personally from defeat.
In the Arad fortress, 13 Hungarian leaders of the uprising were executed, surrendering to the Russian military corps under the direction of Field Marshal Praskiewicz. They say that the Russian emperor, seeing his pet off this campaign, said: "Do not spare the canals!". The leaders of the rebels were not lucky and they went down in history as the “martyrs of Arad”.
After a little more than a hundred years, similar events happened in Hungary and already the Soviet troops defeated the new uprising of 1956, shooting most of its leaders. Truly, history tends to repeat itself!
But back to Arad. The revolution did not prevent the growth of the city.Soon a railroad was built across Arad and large capital poured in.
A huge number of large and small enterprises were discovered, among which the first automobile plant was particularly notableMARTAand car-building enterpriseASTRA. Yes, the first Romanian cars produced under license from an American company were produced in Arad.Westinghouse(its founder was the same George Westinghouse, who, in contrast to Edison, supported Nikola Tesla).
In total, until 1914, a little more than 150 cars were produced, among which the model of the city minibus was particularly popular.
After World War I, the plant merged with the Austrian Daimler and curtailed its production in Arad. But with the car building everything went much better. ASTRA wagons are still manufactured in this city and are popular in Romania.
It was the economic prosperity that gave Arad many architectural masterpieces that created an unforgettable look of the city. Actually for their sake we came to Arad.
At the entrance to the city, I could not help stopping at the wonderful metal bridge.I can not resist at the sight of these wonderful creations of the past, and even in such a perfect condition!
Next we parked in the very center of the city, for a few hours of walking. By the way, here I could not get to pay for parking. Some young guy noticed my torment and paid for parking from his phone. And he did it completely free of charge. The world is not without good people and off the beaten path of Romania!
Our walk began at the magnificent church of St. Anthony of Padua. A powerful neoclassical building was built at the beginning of the last century.
Looked through the grille inside. Monumental here not only externally, but also inside!
At the same time, many more beautiful buildings were erected in the neighborhood. And they are all well preserved to this day.
Arad is the real kingdom of modernity and eclecticism! Here you can walk for a long time with your heads up, peering into the rich architectural decorations and details of buildings.
And you should definitely go into the courtyards and, if possible, look into the local porches.
There you can find a lot of interesting things! This all, in fact, we did!
Take a look, for example, at the building of the city administration.Eclectic here rolls over all reasonable sizes! This style is called (listen carefully!) Flemish neo-romanticism with the influence of the late medieval town halls. At the top of the 54-meter tower in the center of the building there are Swiss watches, playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at certain hours.
And this is just a water tower, more like a medieval knight's castle.
Eh, looking at all this magnificence, you involuntarily think about it, but what would our cities look like if it were not for two world wars with all revolutions, divisions of territories and dictators in addition? Maybe then each of us would have an entrance to the house like this?
What pleases, modern Arad is not overloaded with advertising, and even the one that exists is quite in harmony with the former greatness of this city.
The Soviet period is not much spoiled downtown. Then they built mostly at some distance from the center. And tried and preserved old buildings fit into the overall style.
This is what the former casino building, which later became part of the hotel complex, looks like. Now this magnificence is abandoned and slowly falling apart.
And yes, in the main Romanian city of cars, of course, there is a tram! It is a pity that we did not ride on it.
Let's look at simple Arad people. Something they are quite similar to us. Dressed most often in dark colors, people are concerned, not very friendly. Tourists are not very happy here, because they don’t even know how good they can be.
But the bazaar in Arad is real, without souvenirs and extra charges!
And sell here the most necessary, without any frills.
There are Gypsies in the city, where without them in Romania!
Lovers of monuments will also find what Arad do. This good here is full!
There is also a traditional monument to Soviet soldiers, the liberators, and thus the Arad martyrs, and to someone else there, I no longer really understood.
At the end of our walk we reached the station building. Very cool structure!
Will be here - be sure to look inside.
The classic Austro-Hungarian red brick building was stuffed in the socialist past with bas-reliefs on the theme of socialist well-being.
Oddly enough, they look quite harmonious!
"Well, what about the fortress?", Asks the attentive reader. Unfortunately, I have not made a single photo of this coolest object.At the entrance to her stood a military patrol, who unexpectedly in correct English politely asked not to photograph and not to approach the fortress. Now here is a base of peacekeepers.
Sorry! The location could be touristy. It is interesting to see where he spent in prison for several years the main source of all the world's ills of the last century, Gavril Princip, the very one who slammed Prince Franz Ferdinand! Well, yes, that's another story ...
Arad left a very pleasant impression for me personally. A moderately neglected and moderately beautiful this city is worthy of the attention of an inquisitive traveler. And even if the Romanian Budapest did not work out of it (why should the world have two Budapest), the travelers only won from this ...
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