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Libertatii Square

piata lib-smHistorical names:
The Parade Square (Parade Platz)
Prince Eugen Square (Jenö herceg tér)
Libertăţii Square (Freiheitsplatz), .

Dating: Libertăţii Square is undoubtedly the oldest of the Timişoara squares. Libertăţii Square’s location is also the site of the original nucleus from which Timişoara’s evolution started, the first place where people settled and lived continuously in the hearth of today’s city.

On the northern side of the square the land is higher than on the south side. The higher land represents the southern limit of dry area in the northern city. The southern side of the current square is on the place where the marshy area began, the so-called Timiş-Bega “marshy basin”. The medieval town square was probably located in this area, an urban free space which was occupied by buildings in its centre only in the Ottoman rule period. Until 1716, on the east side of the square, north-west of the intersection between the nowadays Alecsandri and Praporgescu Streets, was “Baia Mare”, the largest public bath of the city. The present-day square arose from the complete rebuilding of the city on a new street tram, rectangular, designed “on board” in the late 20’s of the 18th century.

The square hosts some of the oldest buildings existing in the today’s city: the Garrison Command (the former Generalate, a building existing in 1727), the former Chancellery of War (also existing in 1727, now forms the east wing of Old Town Hall), the Old Town Hall (1731 - 1734) and the Military Casino (built starting with 1744, when the body on today’s Brediceanu Street, at corner with Mărăşeşti Street, started to be built). Where the main façade of the Military Casino is today, in the years 1746 to 1747 there was still the former “mosque of the Silahdar”. The building body with the casino’s façade facing the square appears to be under construction only on the 1773 plan; on the 1788 plan it appears as finished.

Until 1788, instead of Makry House (1 Libertăţii Square) there was a “Turkish house”, having a completely different orientation than the street and the current square have, which were designed only around 1727. According to some sources, “a Timişoara pasha” had his home here. The Makry family bought the land only in 1803. Then was the present day “House with Atlantes” built, which existed in 1808 3. Until after 1850, on the south side of the square’s west front, continuing the current Military Casino, there was nothing built yet. The today building, called the Army Corps 4 Command, appears on the city plan only in 1859. Only then was this front of the square completely built, and Libertăţii Square became an urban area enclosed on all four sides with buildings.

Historical functions:  Named the Parade Square, it housed from the beginning several buildings with military functions.

The name of Libertăţii Square appears during the 1848-1849 Revolution period. On March 18, 1848, a rally was held in “Prince Eugen Square” – due to this meeting the name changed; Timişoara’s population was largely imbued with the spirit of the Hungarian Revolution (although the Hungarians were in clear numerical inferiority, however the spirit touched the German and Hebrew citizens). In the center of this Timişoara movement was Mayor Preyer himself, which led to inevitable tensions between the city’s garrison (the fortress’ commander, Baron Rukavina, decided to firmly defend the monarchy) and the civil society, which had pro-revolutionary “secret sympathies”. The architectural style The Military Casino, where some parts of the original façade are preserved, is done in a Baroque style with Rococo influences. The other buildings are in a Classicist style, the 1900s style – the szeceszió movement and other styles.

Uniqueness aspects: Timişoara’s historical center has a system of three urban squares, unique in Romania, each square presenting different sizes, plastic solutions and architectural styles. Being the connecting link between Unirii Square and Victoriei Square, Libertăţii Square is the central element, Timişoara’s urban system’s rotary. The main public transport lines serving the inhabitants of Timişoara are crossing in the square, these linking neighborhoods located in the four cardinal directions, between the north and south, east and west. In terms of aesthetic perception, going through the three squares in the Cetate district and the streets that connect them, the fascinated visitor passes from the embrace of one urban space in that of a new one, “from one embrace to another”. Within some exaggerated “modernization” works, some valuable city monuments were demolished in the early twentieth century.

piata lib-veche-smallFor example, in north-western corner of Libertăţii Square (the corner between the Old City Hall and the Military Casino, where today is a Secession house) stood a Franciscan church; the former Franciscan monastery’s portico still exist (it is the following building). These were the Franciscans from the Bosnian province (the so-called “superior Franciscan”, in order to particularize them from the “inferior Franciscans” or “Salvatorians”, who also received the right to settle down in Timişoara). The church itself was valuable – it was a typical Baroque monument, being already completed in 1736, and was the oldest Baroque church in the city. It felicitously completed the square’s geometry. Also, an interesting historical moment was associated with it. During the wars with Napoleon, Emperor Franz I feared that the French troops could enter Vienna. Therefore, a precaution was to move to a safe place the crown of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The precious object (with a great historical and emotional value for the Austrians and Germans) were secretly brought in 1809 to Timişoara and hidden (according to a local legend) in the church basement.

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