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LAST UPDATED
29/ 12/ 2013



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Timisoara "Little Vienna" & the Secession
The "Little Vienna" tag is particularly pertinent in this delightful city which boasts a wealth
of Secessionist (Art Nouveau or Jugendstil) architecture.
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Timisoara - Little Vienna
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Window in Casa cu Pavni, Piata Plevnei




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ART NOUVEAU


Highlights


Piata Unirii
Serbian Bishop's Residence
Palatul Bruck (Mercy 9)
Palatul Emmer (Mercy 7)
Banca de Scont
Piarist Monastery & College
Piata Victoriei
Palatul Weiss
Palatul Lloyd
Palatul Neuhausz
Palatul Dauerbach
Palatul Merbl
Palatul Hilt
Palatul Szechenyi
Palatul Loffler
Opera House
Piata Plevnei
incl.Casa cu Pavni
Splaiul T. Vladimirescu
Palatul Apelor (CFR)
Piata Maria
Blvd 16 December 1989
Szekely's Iosefin Fire Station
Former city Abattoir
Decebal Bridge
Fabric District
Baile Neptun
Blvd 3 August 1919
City Alms House
Piata Traian
Palatul Mercur
Scoala Generala 21
Bega Hydroelectric station



Surroundings


Salonta
Arad
Oradea



Travel


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Timisoara developed considerably during the late 19th century and early 20th century, during which period significant technical advances were made; first town in Europe to have gas street lighting (1857), one of the first to introduce trams, and the first in Romania to have a public water supply. It had also become the the communications and administrative hub of the Banat with the coming of the railway, the canal and improved roads. This period saw considerable expansion with new well-planned districts of housing and factories being created south and east of the Bega Canal - in particular Iosefin, Elisabetin and Fabric. This wave of construction attracted many creative, imaginative designers during the opening years of the 20th Century, drawing their inspiration from the architects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to which the Banat still belonged. Most significant at this time were the pioneers of the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau or Secessionism) such as Ödon Lechner in Hungary and Otto Wagner in Austria.



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The Secessionism developed in two distinct architectural phases in Timisoara, the first which was typified by sinuous lines and floral decorations lasted until 1908.  The secomd phase, which continued until the first world war, saw simpler, larger buildings with geometrical designs. Notable among these architects of the art nouveau in Timisoara were Laszlo Szekely (1877-1934) who designed both municipal buildings and factories, in addition to residential apartments and villas, and Martin Gemeinhardt. The Secession in Romania was an important link between the Byzantine styles such as those promoted mainly in the south and east by Constantin Brâncoveanu, from which it gained ideas, and the later modernist architecture. In many respects it is the abundance of Secessionist architecture that has provided Timisoara with its rather appropriate tag,"Little Vienna".

Typical of the first phase of the Secession in Timisoara are the residential apartments lining Bulevardul 3 August 1919 between the city centre and the Fabric District to the east. Take a stroll past the Continental Hotel passing the impressive Romanian National Bank (BNR) building (Hubert, 1903-4), and Post Office (Palatul Postei - Ignac Alapar, 1910-14) to reach Szekely's unusual Decebal Bridge, and his imposing Baile Neptun (1913) beyond. This building, formerly the Hungaria Public Baths, originally comprised private apartments, a pool and steam bath, and retains an impressive interior. The delightful apartment blocks along the boulevard, facing the park, exhibit a wide range of art nouveau decoration ranging from faces ("mascarons") and sinuous botanical and animal motifs such as owls and olive branches, to the elegant waifs, or winged, muses between the upper floor windows of No.5. Here you can find beautiful wrought iron grids, carved doors and graceful, twisting staircases. No.7 (Miksa Steiner, 1907) is similar to the later Hungarian Naval Administration building in Budapest. It is characterised by very pronounced sculptural decorations including a boat that dominates the upper facade There are also several of Szekely's villas and Lipot Baumhorn's "Maura' Synagogue (1899) in this area. You shortly enter the bizarre timewarp of Piata Traian, the heart of Fabric, passing the meticulously restored yellow and grey City Alms House and Kinghts' Tower, with details picked out in gold-leaf, and statuettes of monkeys and bears (Szekely, 1908-9). This blended a new-romanesque style to blend in with the nearby Millenium Church. Across the square is the Palatul Mercur, former department store with a statue of Mercury on a tower, crying out for restoration, while beyond you will find a Secessionist "apotheke" and further north one of Szekely's later works, the Elementary School (Scoala General 21) with a richly-decorated, yellow facade.

The small residential square of Piata Plevnei, south of the Bega Canal is a peaceful place to while away an hour watching life passing by. It is also bordered by excellent examples of the first phase of Secessionist architecture such as Gemeinhardt's Casa cu Pavni "Peacock House" of 1905. Facades are covered with an abundance of typical motifs; peacocks, swans, owls and squirrels together with sinuous vines and foliage. The theme continues on the buildings lining Splaiul Tudor Vladimirescu, following the south bank of the Bega, and to a lesser extent around nearby Piata Maria and Bulevard 16 Decembrie 1989, including the rather dominant CFR building, the Palatul Apelor (1900-2). Further extravagant representatives of this style and period may be found at Strada Mercy 7 (Emmer Apartments) and 9 (Bruck Apartments), both of them designed by Szekely, and the latter also facing onto Piata Unirii (take a look inside the ground floor apotheke). In the north-west corner of Piata Unirii, stands the spectacular Banca de Scont (Marcell Komor and Dezso Jakab, 1906-8) a typical Hungarian-style art nouveau building with an organic shape comprising curved walls studded with turquoise tiles forming patterns drawn from folklore, and with extravagant iron gutters and window grills. Similar creations by these architects may be seen in Oradea.

The second phase of the Secession in Timisoara is typified by the impressive apartment buildings (1911-13) of Piata Victoriei and the immense Piarist College, Monastery and Church (Szekely 1907-1912) near the Orthodox Cathedral.



Palatul Bruck
(Strada Mercy / Piata Unirii)




Apartment building, No.3,
Bulevardul 3 August 1919

The first of the former buildings is Szekely's Palatul Weiss (Weiss Apartments) which stands at the top of the square, overlooking it an angle. Next, and forming the first of the impressive row of apartment blocks lining the west side of the square is the Lloyd Building (now part of the Politechnica) which was designed by Lipot Baumhorn and completed in1912. The ground floor comprises an elegant restaurant, once the Cafe Wien, with an interior reminiscent of one of Rennie Mackintosh's creations. All but one of the remainder were designed by Szekely after he became the city's chief architect, and comprise from top to bottom, Palatul Neuhausz (NeuhauszApartments), Palatul Merbl (Merbl Palace) designed by Anton Merbl in 1911, Palatul Dauerbach (Dauerbach Palace), Palatul Hilt (Hilt & Vogel Apartments) and Palatul Szechenyi (Szechenyi Company Apartments). Some of these incorporate examples of Szekely's use of ceramic ornaments, often inspired by the motifs of folk art.

The Neuhausz apartment is an excellent example of Hungarian-style art nouveau with attractive recessed balconies, rich plasterwork and inlaid majolica. The Dauerbach Palace, completed in 1913, is an imposing building with a high, dark facade inlaid with ceramic which dominates the row. Nowadays it is simply called the 'Palace'. On the eastern side of the square you will find the immense, impressive Loffler Palace built by Leopld Loffler and family (1912-13). Part of the facade is pock-marked with bullet holes from the1989 Revolution.




Banca de Scont, an excellent example of Hungarian-style
art nouveau




Lloyd Building on Piata Victoriei

You will find many more example of Secessionist architecture including the green and white facade of the Serbian Bishop's Palace with rich ornamentation on Piata Unirii. This was redesigned by Szekely in 1907. Secessionist architecture was not limited to the more obvious residential and commercial buildings. There are several factories and municipal buildings in the town which were built at this time. Some of Laszlo Szekely's best creations, for example, combine function with style such as his rather geometric Hydroelectric Power station, with Zsolnay coloured decorations in the turbine hall (1909), at the eastern end of the Bega, or his Iosefin district fire station (1906).

The former city Abattoir complex (1904) near the university campus was one of his earliest, and most challenging commissions. It was modern, innovative, functional and architecturally pleasing, Nowadays, only the main central buildings inlcuding the water tower (though without its original steeple like roof) remain with Hennicke's statues of a bull with a girl, and with a boy remain. There are tentative plans to restore the building and convert the site into an industrial museum for Timisoara. Nearby on Strada Pestalozzi there is good example of industrial secessionist architecture in the 'Dura' battery factory, where the main building combines examples of both the first and second phase with a geometric tower and facade with floral decorations.




Szekely's Abattoir



The recently-renovated
City Alms House, Piata Traian in Fabric

Secessionist or art nouveau architecture is by no means restricted to Timisoara in Romania. You will find excellent examples in other towns in the Banat, in particular Arad (for example in Strada Closca or Piata Avram Iancu), and in particular, Oradea (Vulturul Negru and Astoria Hotels are excellent examples). Further afield, other towns with notable buildings from this period, and of this style include Cluj (eg. Ödon Lechner's National Theatre), Satu Mare and Târgu Mures (extravagant Palace of Culture).


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