joi, 1 noiembrie 2012

Baia Mare, the mining capital of Romania

The city of Baia Mare (Hungarian Nagybanya) is smiling, nice and still interesting and prosperous. Despite the closing of almost mines after 1989  due to low profitableness.
Piata Libertatii in Baia Mare, the remnants of the Downtown from the Middle Age

First time in a written document, under the name of Rivulus Dominarum, has been mentioned by Carol Robert d'Anjou at 1329. One century later gold was discovered in the area, triggering a Gold Rush. At 1446 the gold mines have offered by the King of Hungary to Iancu de Hunedoara for exceptional service. Maybe I shall remember, Iancu de Hunedoara was half Romanian, an unbeatable warrior against the Turks, and the governor of Transilvania. Last, but not least, the father of Matei Corvin, the most important king of Hungary. Iancu the Hunedoara build here a house for his wife Erszebet, which you still can see standing in Piata Libertatii.
The modern Baia Mare has nothing special to make a difference to other Romanian industrial cities

In the following centuries the city kept on flourishing, and during the communist time the mining was heavily supported from the central government. Baia Mare lies not far from the Hungarian border (70 km)  and the Ukrainian one (50 km). There are for sure mutual influences, but the Romanian population is overwhelming against any minority (90 % of the population are orthodox Romanians). The most modern part of the city looks so impersonally, like many others Romanian communist industrial cities. So, please, don't waste your time, there are many other things to do in Baia Mare.
The Stephen's Tower dominating the  Liberty market from Baia Mare with it 40 meters height

So, concentrate on the Piata libertatii (Liberty Market), containing the remnants of the Oldtown. Most of the buildings date back from the XVIIth century. At number 8 find ,please, the above mentioned house build by Iancu de Hunedoara. Actually, the house was much bigger, and what you can see today is only a part of the house, and belongs to the Maramures History Museum, hosting from time to time arts exhibitions.
The Butchers' Tower from baia mare is maybe the city's oldest building. The old fortress had actually seven  guilds' towers.

The overall aspect of Piata Libertatii is only shadowed by its use as parking place. The market is dominated by Stephen's tower (important remark: not the Moldavian Ruler Stephen The Great, but the King Istvan of Hungary). It is 40 meters high, and is now a part of The Saint Third Church, Baroque building from 1707. From the old fortess of the XVIth century, only the Butchers' Tower has been spared. Much more about the history, and mainly Iancu de Hunedoara, in the excellent History Museum of Maramures (Maramures is the name of the neighboring district, having the seat in Baia Mare). Also very interesting is the Art Museum as the Ethnographic and Popular Art Museum .

The hotels of Baia Mare are by far the best in the region, and the city  is the best and easiest access way to discover Maramures, through longer or shorter trips.

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