radea (Hungarian: Nagyvárad, German: Grosswardein) is the capital of Bihor County. The Baroque Palace of Oradea (Romanian: Palatul Baroc din Oradea or Muzeul Ţării Crişurilor), also known as The Bishopric Palace of Oradea, was founded in 1762 by the Baron Bishop Adam Patachich, as the Roman Catholic Bishopric Palace of northern Transylvania. The palace was built in the same time with the Romano-Catholic Basilica and the Canonic Line from nearby; together, these buildings form the most important Baroque complex from Romania, and one of the most representative from Europe.
The building started in May 23, 1762. The first architect was Giovani Battista Ricca and next the famous Austrian architect Anton Franz Hillebrandt, designer of many Austrian palaces and one of Europe's 18th century best, who designed the palace and planned the city's posh side as Baroque quarter, while engineer A.J. Neumann was in charge of the palace's massive construction, complete with its 365 exterior windows resembling the days of the year and 120 large, extravagant rooms distributed on three floor plans.
Royal Belvedere Palace of Vienna, which likely was one of the reasons along with other religious conflicts that made Empress Maria Theresa of Austria repudiate the founder, Baron Adam Patachich, the bishop of Oradea between 1759 and 1776; he was then sent to another diocese, in Kalocsa, Hungary. Nevertheless, the baron was a charismatic, highly educated humanist and an illuminated patron of arts, who is mostly remembered for the fine music and musicians he surrounded himself with: this is where Michael Haydn, famous composer and Joseph Haydn's brother, worked as a Kapellmeister in the bishop's orchestra. The bishop also employed at the court other famous European composers and violinists like Wenzel Pichl and Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, who between 1765-1769 served as a Musikdirektor. Finally, in 1771, the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, together her son, future Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, arrived here to visit and make peace with a place whose project she did not initially fancy. In 1773 the palace unfortunately burned down entirely in a mysterious fire, but was reconstructed immediately by the next appointed bishop, after its original plans. In the year 1855, a new side and entrance was added graciously in tone and respect with the initial building, with grand double stairways.
Later in time, after Romania re-gained possession of Transylvania, it remained under the church's patronage but during the socialist regime, it was seized as state property. On January 17, 1971, the Baroque Palace became a county museum hosting many large and fine archeological, historical, natural history, ethnographic and art collections under the name of "Muzeul Ţării Crişurilor" ("Museum of the Three Rivers Land"). The museum has approximately 400,000 pieces divided under four main collections: History and Archeology, Ethnography, Art and Natural History.
The palace has a U shape, 3 levels, with a broken roof specific to the Austrian Baroque. On the main facade is the central ornament, decorated symmetrically with columns with Ionic caps, garlands, having a unique distinction, and putting into value the access gates and the windows from the 1st floor, ended on the superior side with a triangle fronton. The interior of the palace is impressive by the rigorous of the space organization and the decorative sobriety, characteristics present in the central hall and at the level of the reference floor to which there is a monumental stair. The rest of the rooms from the 1st floor are decorated in the Austrian Baroque style: column with Corinth caps, diverse stucco ornaments, glazed ceramics stoves, fireplaces with colored marble. The Festive Hall is impressive by the painted ornaments of Renaissance inspiration, signed Francisc Storno (1879).
The front courtyard is an artistic park with large old bronze and marble statues of historical figures and also home to a famous Baroque parish church erected in 1752 even before the palace, a work of the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Ricca modeled after the mother church of the Jesuits, Church of the Gesú in Rome. The basilica contains the relics of King Saint Ladislaus, born in year 1040, a splint of his skull being kept here in a gold box. In 1992, Pope John Paul II through the Vatican's decree, raised the church to a holy basilica rank.
In 2003, like many other edifices, The Baroque Palace of Oradea was restored to the Roman Catholic Church by the Government of Romania, but the building is still being used as a museum until further negotiations are made. (Internet infos compilation)
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