Oradea Fortress        

Oradea, Romania                
During the 11th century, King Ladislas the First (1077-1095), though obviously very young, built a fortified monastary in Oradea. Around this monastary grew a fortification, built out of earthen and stone walls with wooden watch towers.

A poem written in 1241 describes the conquest and setting aflame of Oradea Fortress during a Tartar-Mongolian invasion. The Sequel to the Lyon Council (1245) spelled out a coherent policy of central European, Catholic states against the Tartar threat, and Oradea Fortress was rebuilt.

A strong heptagonally-shaped medieval fortress was erected in this spot in the 14th century, and Pope Boniface IX (1356-1404) "conferred a privelege" to the fort's cathedral in 1401, making it a pilgrimage place for Christians all over Europe.

Oradea was destroyed by the Turks in 1474 in an ongoing feud between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1538 Ferdinand I (1503-1564), Holy Roman Emperor, and Janos Szapolyai (1487-1540), King of Hungary, met at Oradea Fortress where they agreed to recognize each others' right to claim the throne of Hungary (?!), leading to an unusual period of peace. Italian architects were hired to give the fortress the beginnings of the starry shape that we see today. The Turks returned in 1658 to besiege the fortress, which held out until August 27 1660. From July 1691 to May 1692, the Austrians besieged and then took the city. Back and forth we go.

Further modifications and improvements were made on Oradea Fortress through the 18th century, which brought it to the general state it is today.

The Napoleanic Wars (1793-1813) only made it to Oradea in the form of some 450 French prisoners, mostly sick ones, who were guests at the fortress in 1813. A great fire that burnt most of the city in 1836 severly damaged the fortress, but the Habsburgs felt Oradea Fortress to be important, so they rebuilt and strengthened it continuously through the middle of the 19th century.

The First (1914-1918) and Second (1939-1945) World Wars left Oradea physically untouched. A police school was established in the fortress, and it was still used as a military base until 1975, when a number of wholesale shops were opened on its grounds...apparently leading to its instant deterioration. Today Oradea Fortress continues to crumble, and locals wish you would send them lots of money to restore it.

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Citadel of Oradea?
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