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The statue of the Holy Trinity

statuia sf. treimi smallThe statue of the Holy Trinity (“the plague monument”) and thUnirii Square fountain are positioned in the middle of Unirii Square.

The statue of the Holy Trinity  is considered to be the most outstanding monument of Baroque art creation in Timişoara. Presumably (based on stylistic analogies with other works) it is a creation of Viennese sculptor Georg Raphael Donner. It was commissioned by counselor Anton Deschan von Hansen.

It was brought to Timişoara from Vienna in 1740. The motivation for the monument (which must have cost a large sum for a city that was still far from prosperity) was the commemoration of the capital problems that had hit Timişoara during the war with the Turks from 1737 to 1739. Such monuments are very common during the Baroque period in the Catholic areas of Austria and southern Germany.

The monument’s base is a pedestal with three sides; on each side there are figurative reliefs representing in Baroque manner plague, famine and war. On the pedestal’s corners, namely on consoles supported on volutes, are statues of the saints Rochus, Sebastian (the one with the arrow) and Karl Borromeus.

Following is a column in itself; at its base St. Ioan of Nepomuk is represented, and below it there is St. Rozalia. At the same height as St. Nepomuk, but on the other sides of the column, there are King David and St. Barbara.

The column ends with an Ionic capital, on which the Holy Trinity thrones.

This statue was placed somewhere else in the beginning, too; in fact, it would not have been possible for it to be placed here since in 1740 Unirii Square was still a far from finished construction site.

The commissioner Deschan Von Hansen ordered the statue to be installed in 1740 in close vicinity to his house – approximately where Bega store is today. But it soon had to be moved – that land had just been purchased in 1752 by Baroness Rosina von Metzrad; after measurement, she intended to build here a house for herself so the monument had to be moved. At that time, Unirii Square was still in the process of construction.


Accordingly, an agreement was concluded between the city administration and Baroness von Metzrad: the statue was to be stored in pieces, in the Catholic Cathedral (which was also unfinished), following that at some point the Baroness had to reinstall the monument at her own expense in a place indicated by the administration. When finally the “primary square” (Unirii Square) was finished and an outstanding monument was needed in its center, the baroness did not condescend to meet her obligations; it seems that city administration was too weak in this fight. Thus, Empress Maria Theresa herself had to write the 1755 administration of Banat, saying “you will instruct in the most serious manner ... the above-named Baroness von Metzrad to install the column in the place indicated by You ... and you will obediently report the success”. And, as proof of success, lays evidence even today the statue in the middle of the square, in stylistic harmony with the surrounding buildings.


fantana piata unirii-smallAlthough rarely noticed by tourists, the fountain in the Unirii Square (between the Holy Trinity statue and the Catholic Cathedral) is also indirectly related to the plague and marshy area diseases from Timişoara.

Although ever since the first half of the eighteenth century concrete measures have been taken to drain the marshes (in Turkish times the city of Timişoara was compared with “a turtle in water” by the traveler Evly Celebi), there was still a problem with water: Timişoara was surrounded by water, but it was infected (or “suspicious”) and could not be drunk! A very ingenious system to pump water into the city existed – water was taken from the Bega River to Fabric district where it was filtered with a sawdust filter and sent by pipelines to the city. However, during the 1849 siege, the risk of having the water supply within the enemy’s reach was abundantly proved. Therefore, drinking water sources were needed directly in the city.

In mid-nineteenth century, only 18 of the 130 wells in the city produced good-tasting water.

After a first attempt in 1832 to dig a deep well failed (the pipes had bent at 55 meters deep), in 1894 the work was resumed. They even reached down to 412 meters, which was a true accomplishment for that time. The water burst powerfully (it rose up to a meter high), but having a high content of magnesium, calcium and a temperature of 24.5 degrees it was soon deemed as “undrinkable”. However this fountain immediately became very popular; people of Timişoara came here to fill their bottles every day, to take what they called “the best water in the world”. Long after the fountain was dug, methane gas also surfaced besides water – children used to lit it causing explosions, to scare old ladies coming with their bottles to take water.

Officially, this fountain’s water has never been categorized as having any therapeutic indication (although it isn’t harmful, and at least for stomach acidity it has some positive effect). The water temperature varied over time – it reduces, thus making it more acceptable for drinking.

This situation continued until the mid-2000. The water which can be drunk now is not from “the pipeline”, but still artesian. However, it comes from another source and does not have the strong and disturbing mineralization the water before had.

 

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