The Baroque Complex in Oradea

The Baroque Complex in Oradea is composed of the Roman-Catholic Bishopric Palace (or the Baroque Palace, described here), the Roman-Catholic Basilica and the Row of the Canons, three splendid Baroque buildings that once belonged to the same architectural complex. Now, the situation has returned, all three buildings belong to the Roman-Catholic Bishopric of Oradea.

The Row Of The Canons (Şirul Canonicilor Street), represents in fact an architectural complex composed of 57 arches that form a long corridor of over 250 meters uniting 10 buildings. It was built between 1750-1875, after the project of architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt. By 1780 there were erected 7 of the 10 buildings, two buildings were completed in 1863, and the tenth was completed in 1875, more than 100 years of starting construction of the first building. In the initial phase in the complex of buildings had included a Roman-Catholic seminary, but that was not built here. They sheltered the canons of the Bishopric.

Even if not unitary from an architectural point of view, a skillful eye can notice the differences in shape and dimension of the windows that give the aspect of a whole thanks to the archway supported by massive pillars and Bohemian-style vaults. The baroque style is the predominant one, even if there are specialists who assert
that it is more a Transylvanian popular classical architecture. The curious
ones can count the 56 vaults of the complex that, when looked at from an end to the other, give the impression of an endless row.

The Ascension of the Holy Virgin Roman-Catholic Cathedral (Şirul Canonicilor Street) is located inside the park that still shelters the Ţării Crişurilor Museum (the Baroque Palace). The access to the cathedral can be done either on the main gate or on the gate that leads to the nave. It is the masterpiece of the Viennese architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt, the one who accepted Bishop Paulus Forgács’s proposal of building it. It is worth mentioning the fact that, from 1750 until May 1, 1752, when the head-stone was laid, the name of the Austrian architect was omnipresent, but, from that moment on, he disappeared and was replaced by the Italian constructor Giovanni Battista Ricca. A sad fate hung above those whose names were linked to this worship establishment. The Italian Ricca died in 1756. The arrival of a new bishop, Adam Patachich, gave a new impulse to the construction. He arranged that the cathedral be built by the Austrian Johann Michael Neumann under the supervision of the same Franz Anton Hillebrandt, who meanwhile had become chief architect of the Imperial Court. In 1761, Ricca’s plans were replaced by new ones and that is why, instead of a north-Italian Baroque basilica a late-Austrian Baroque building was erected. After several modifications to the plans and hold-backs, works ended in the summer of 1779. One year later, on the 25th of June 1780, the halidom was dedicated.

The altars of the basilica are of classic, reflecting the preference for sobriety and simplicity specific to the late phase of the Baroque. The dimensions of the cathedral are the following: length 68 m, width 30 m, height of dome 24 m, height of tower 61 m. The cupola fresco represents "The Triumph of July heavenly Christ" by John Schopf, in a style called "II Correggro" (1778), others are the work of painter Francis Storno (1878-1880). The main altar is of Carrara marble, carved by Italian foreman Triscornia after the plans of Stefan Toth, in Neo-Renaissance style (1897). The two statues, executed in 1897 by Francis Eberhardt, represents St. Stephen and St. Emeric. The main altar painting, titled "Raising at Heaven of the Virgin Mary" was painted in 1778 the Austrian artist Vincent Fischer, in the style of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The two paintings in the secondary naves, representing St. Ladislaus and The Holy Family, were realized by painter Vincent Fischer.

At the side entry of the cathedral there are several funerary monuments from 15th and 16th centuries, in Gothic and Renaissance styles, which belonged to the ancient cathedral of the city. The organ dates from 1780, is the work of Fridolin Festl, and has been given to the cathedral by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The Basilica houses the relics of St. Ladislaus.