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Fabric Tour

Around the year 1850, over half of the population in Timişoara lived in the Fabric district. If the “Cetate” was and remains the city’s brilliant showcase, Fabric was once the neighborhood of “middle-class people in Timişoara” and still keeps the picturesque of past centuries.

Fabric district’s past was directly influenced by the Bega River. Until 1907, through Fabric was flowing not one Bega – but several. Several old, natural river branches were left here intentionnally not canalized, and also a few additional canals have even been dug. The purpose of these small water courses was to set going the small industry that began to emerge here in the eighteenth century, especially the dozens of mills. In 1907-1910, the channels were leveled, some becoming streets – on the neighborhood map one can see that the Fabric has a far more disordered street structure than the other neighborhoods; therefore the explanation lies in the former branches of the river Bega.

tm-traseu fabric-smThe Fabric developed as a suburb outside the fortress, but not close to it, as the limit of 950 meters required by the military administration of the city of Timişoara to be kept. Today’s Fabric is mostly the product of years 1880 to 1910, when many grandiose buildings, most of them Secession, were built.

We start at  1  Decebal Bridge – (1909-1910, Engineer Mihailich Győző, architect Körössy Albert K.) originally called the “park street bridge”. Being built in the authentic Secession style, this is the most elegant and well preserved bridge in Timişoara. Because of its reinforced concrete building, with one opening, it was considered an innovative technical achievement at European level.

Close by there are the  2  Neptun Baths (initially Hungaria Baths, 1912-1914), a beautiful head of perspective for those coming from the bridge. The building was built by the famous architect Szekely.

On the right is the oldest park in the city – the People’s Park and Regina Maria (Queen Mary) Park. The entrance is under a  3  gate built in the same style as the bridge, even the park’s fence matching this Secession ensemble. In the park there is also the former Apollo Cinema, which was recently modified, preserving however the façade from the middle of the 20th century..

We continue with the splendid buildings on the left side of 3 August 1919 Bd. This area is an architectural reserve of the “1900s style”. Near the Neptun Baths there is  4  Szekely Palace, built by the architect for his mother – surprisingly he left out here many of his favorite forms, so that the building falls well into the “Viennese Secession” – much more reserved in decorations and more geometric.

The next section abundantly fulfills all our expectations for elegant decorations – these buildings belong to different movements of the 1900s style. At no. 2 there is  5  Karl Kunz Palace (1902-1903). Although the lion and the female sculptures that used to ornate the house’s corner have disappeared, it still preserves some beautiful women heads. At  6 Haymann Palace (no. 5) we can see the female figures and the golden lyres on the 2nd floor, while the architecture betrays the Viennese Secession’s influences. The building was very modern for its time. In contrast, at  7  Anheuer Palace (no. 7) the style is rather “outdated” having Neo-Baroque elements. Despite obvious differences between them, both “palaces” were finished in 1901.

The most ornate is however  8  Miksa Steiner Palace (no. 9), on which one can hardly find an area with no decorations – on the upper floors you can even see a boat’s bow and stern. To be notices is also the tower on the corner towards Micloşi Square.

At no. 11A we find  9  the Archduke’s House, which truly belonged to a young nonconformist royal of the house of Habsburg-Lorraine, disciplinary moved from Vienna to Timişoara. In 1890, however, he disappeared without a trace on a trip around the world. This building was the first house having two floors to be built in the Fabric. On the other side of the boulevard (1 Lonovici St.) there is  10  Josef Kunz Palace ( “Louis house”), built in an eclectic Classicist style.

At the end of the park, in a small square on the right, the  11  Synagogue in Fabric is seen. It was built between 1897 and 1899 (architect Lipot Baumhorn, builder Josef Kremer) in Secession style with Moorish, neo-Gothic and neo-Roman elements. Since the Mosaic community has few members in Timişoara, this synagogue too was donated to be used as a theater hall.

On I.L. Caragiale St. we find  12  “Colterm” headquarters – the name is modern, but the building is old, belonging to the 1900s style. Above the entry a street light is placed remembering that Timişoara was the first European city with electric street lighting.

We can go on walking from the Synagogue to the 3 August 1919 Bd. This part is 20-30 years older than the high Secession palaces up to here, most buildings having more restrained and classicist architectural expressions; the Secession’s unconstrained is missing; however, we can see a few more discreet angels and some beautiful portals, larger than those of Secession palaces.

 As we go to the east, the district has less and less “big city” look, but its picturesque degree is increased.

On the right we soon enter the Romanilor (Romans) Square, dominated by  13  Millennium Church. The monumental Church was built to celebrate 1,000 years of Hungarian settlement in the Pannonian Plain, between 1896 and 1901 by architect Ludwig von Ybl. The style is eclectic-historicist, with neo-Gothic and neo-Roman elements.

The towers on the façade measure 65 meters. The stained glass windows are special, the altar painting is signed by Vastagh György and organ is created by the famous Timişoara workshop Wegenstein. At the time of construction, it was the largest church in Banat. It serves as a Catholic Parochial Church of Fabric district.

Close by there is  14  Ştefania Palace, recognizable because of its corner tower, on which there is a halberdier in armor. The building is very elegant, on the façade facing the boulevard one seeing representations of bears and gorillas, reason for which it was known as the “house with monkeys”. It was built by the City Hall between 1909 and 1910 (architect Szekely L.) as a tenement house. The term “tenement house”, no longer used, designated a rental apartment building. Built so the revenue from rentals would to serve the “Town’s Asylum”, building, which also housed the Fabric “Citizens’ Club”, was sold in 1918 to Rudolf (Rezsõ) Totis, general manager of “Industria Lânii S.A.” factory. He named the building “Ştefania Palace” in his wife’s honor. The most famous Fabric postwar restaurant was also here: “Carul cu Bere” (“The Beer Wagon”).

We finish our walk on 3 August 1919 Bd. with  15  Countess Mirbach Palace(1904, built on the site of a more modest building). The façade is given rhythm by the pilasters on two levels. Of course the “palace” was not the Countess’ special residence but, in the good Timişoara tradition, this palace was only a tenement house, too.

Next place is Fabric’s district current center: 16  Traian Square. It was drawn and approved as the “main square in Fabric” since 1744, although it was far from its today appearance: apart from the church “in the square” there were only houses similar to those from the countryside, with narrow frontons and gardens between them. In the late nineteenth century, Traian Square was radically changed, acquiring its contemporary appearance.

Traian Square is a Timişoara very picturesque ensemble, but little known, and had the role of a suburban central square, which, until 1900, operated relatively independently of the actual city center. By the interwar period, it was a very economically active area, with many shops of all kinds. Although in the Fabric district it was initially sought to separate in space on religious and ethnic criteria, in the nineteenth century here lived Romanians, Germans, Serbians, Hebrews and Hungarians alike.

Always present were the restaurants and inns – some very famous. Fabric was extremely popular on weekends. Since in the Cetate district the Catholic Church was very influential and banned drinking and playing cards in taverns, while the weekly service was held, every Sunday morning a small procession going to the Fabric taverns was formed, where the fun was at home. Most of them were anonymous, scattered around the alleys of ground floor houses beyond Traian Square.

The square’s most important element is  17  the Serbian Church dedicated to St. George. Built between 1745 and 1755 as a modest Baroque church, in 1890 the tower had to be raised in order to keep pace with other buildings in the Square. Today the appearance is predominantly Classicist, with some Baroque. On the outside, above the entrance there is a painting of St. George fighting the dragon.

The building next to the church, beautifully decorated in Second Empire style, is  18  the Serbian Community House of Fabric, belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Parish.

Linked to the church is the obelisk with a cross on the opposite side of the square. This was the focus of the feast of Epiphany. On the massive marble pedestal you can see an inscription in Serbian, but also an ammonite (a spiral shell fossil) with a diameter of about half a meter on the side facing the church. The bell which is now in front of the church is not connected with it; is one of the monuments commemorating the revolution of December 1989.

The tallest building on the left front of the market is  19  Mercur Palace (1908-1909) or “House with Mercur” (Mercur – Hermes, Mercury) because of the Roman commerce god representation on the corner of the building.

From Traian Square we go right on Ştefan cel Mare St. On both sides there are larger or smaller buildings in the 1900s architecture style. A modern appearance is the new headquarters of Electrica Banat S.A. at the intersection with Pestalozzi St. Across the street there is 20 the building complex of   of the brewery. It is one of the oldest industrial units in Timişoara (the production license was granted ever since 1717, and we know that since 1718 beer is being produced in Timişoara). This site is the third in factory’s history; it was occupied in 1744 to 1750. The place is also suitable for a break: in the garden terrace (during summer) or in the great hall (during winter) you can order besides beer (there are some types that are sold only here) even a full menu. Access is made through the building on Ştefan cel Mare St., at the last door.

Across the street from the Brewery there is a short street to the left, towards  21  the Greek Catholic Church in Fabric dedicated to St. Mary. The Austrian provincial Baroque church, small and sober, saw the beginnings of the district (1765). Originally it was a Roman Catholic parish church, being donated to the Greek Catholics after the construction of the “millennium dome”.

From the Greek Catholic Church we go back to Traian Square and move on Dacilor St. From the distance we can see  22  Nägele Palace, known in Timişoara as “Kovacs pharmacy”. It is recognized by the snake coiled on the corner tower roof. We pass the building and then the bridge to Badea Cârţan market (formerly known as Piaţa de Fân – the Hay Market). It is one of Timişoara’s major markets. Beyond the market we come across a major artery – Take Ionescu Bd. or Lugojului Road, as many call it. On the left there is the tram depot. Across the street you can visit, by preliminary order, the trams collection of the Autonomous Transport Administration Timişoara (R.A.T.T.).

Onwards you can go to the East Railway Station, through an area with many 1900s style buildings, including some old factories. On 3 Bariţiu St. is one of the city’s old  23  Water Towers. From Badea Cârţan Market we can take the trolleybuses to return to the center or the 46 bus to go to  24  the Zoo, which was modernized recently. In its vicinity there is  25  Banat Village Museum, with farmhouses from Banat, both from Romanian villages and from villages of other ethnicities in Banat. We are already near  26  the Verde (Green) Forest, a patch of forest from those surrounding Timişoara. The area is ideal for walking and cycling, beyond the village of Giarmata amounting on the very scenic Lipovei hills.

If we however choose to continue walking through Fabric, we can go alongside Bega Canal to the  27  Mihai Viteazul bridge. From the original bridge, built in 1909, the four interesting bas-reliefs from the bridgeheads have been preserved. Near it there is also a cross that marks the place of the old Romanian Orthodox Church in Fabric, demolished in 1913. The new church (1911-1912) is on the other side of the Bega at a short distance. Continuing alongside Bega, upstream, we arrive at   27  the Hydroelectric Power Plant (the “Turbines” or the “Water Plant”), an industrial architecture monument. The building itself (including the dam) is in Secession style (architect Szekely L.), and is one of the oldest hydroelectric power plants in nowadays Romania – 1909. From here we can return to the city center by tram from the Lalelelor station or from Sarmisegetuza Square. We would like to say that from the “turbines” you can “wander” for about one hour around the Iosif Vulcan, Ioan Bonţilă or Tigrului Streets. There are hundreds of nineteenth century houses, modest, but picturesque, giving the area a special charm.


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