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“The 1900s architecture” series

ciobanu-smallThe palaces Ciobanu – Gombos – Klein – Former Timişiana Bank

These buildings are located across the street from the Continental Hotel and are a very successful suite (but rarely noticed) of the 1900s architecture (the so-called Secession) in Timişoara. Although quite different in visual language, all four palaces have the cornice at the same height, which emphasizes the idea of “unity in diversity”.

The sizes of these palaces are striking – others of similar size, also joined in a continuous front, we can only find in Victoriei Square – and partly on 3 August 1919 Bd. in Fabric district. This area’s similarity to Victoriei Square is obvious, which also was originally developed as a very wide boulevard (therefore it was intended to be a square) which has to connect with Iosefin district. The series of palaces to which we refer are also on a main boulevard – namely the one towards Fabric. But the developments in this area did not go all the way, because the situation was not so favorable: the opposite side front was dominated by the Transilvania Barracks (where now the Continental Hotel is), a low and military Baroque, unspectacular; a beautiful head view of the boulevard was also missing, like the theater front was in Opera Square. It was highly likely that the private investors’ financial resources would not allow the concomitant occurrence of two new “centers”.                   

The first of the series is the Ciobanu Palace (though the last built: 1924-1926, at some time after the others). It is virtually one of the last Secession palaces built in the city and it proves the early twentieth century Romanian commissioners’ evolution in Timişoara. However, surprisingly, it does not belong to the last movement – the geometrized one of the Secession, but has quite abundant outdoor decorations; the figures on the fronton are remarkable: the swain and the peasant girl with the shuttle – the Romanian peasant theme will be repeated a decade later on a completely different building, namely the Prefecture building. Neo-Classicist elements also appear (columns), as well as Baroque ones (the urns, the fronton’s shape). The corner is rounded and richly decorated, with a secondary fronton.

It is the most impressive of the four buildings, and not just because of its size.

The next two buildings are the Gombos Palace (commissioner Lipot Gombos, building permit December 22, 1912) and, respectively, the Klein Palace (Jenö Klein, building permit July 28, 1911). They correspond much better to the time they were created in, not being “anachronistic”. One can observe the more reduced use of curved forms, and the tendency towards geometrization. Both buildings have bow-windows on three floors.

Last building is the Timişiana Bank (1 Revoluţiei din 1989 Bd.; building permit July 28, 1909, completed in 1914, architect Josef Kremer Jr.); it was a Romanian bank in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It was known for some time as Victoria Bank; today it houses on the ground floor the Italo-Romena Bank and a few shops, and some offices and apartments upstairs. Its architecture is still in 1900s style, Classicist movement with Doric elements; it has Doric “colossal” columns (the ground floor serves as the basis for the Doric pilasters on three levels). The decorations are few and geometric, which increases the building’s sobriety.


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