Past

The grave of king St. Ladislaus, the canonized founder of the first medieval cathedral of Oradea, raised this religious edifice, which existed until the beginning of the era of the Turkish occupation of the 17th century, to the level of the most significant pilgrimage sites of Western Christianity. A worthy successor to that medieval cathedral is this current cathedral, built in a baroque style, after the original plans of the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Ricca, which were later modified and completed by the Austrian architect of the episcopal palace, Franz Anton Hillebrandt.

The famous author of the first monograph of the Bihor county, Sándor K. Nagy, in 1885 described the garden around the palace as a “large and beautiful” garden, which is proven by the postcards and photographs of that period. On the other side of the fence one can notice a rich variety of plants: in front of the residence and the cathedral an idyllic English garden, and in the back garden including an inner courtyard in the shape of a U, being shaped by the three wings of the palace, was decorated in Baroque style. The English Park boasts with two statues of significant art value. The statue of Bishop Ferenc Szaniszló (1850-1868) on the southern side of the processing space was erected by his successor, Lőrinc Schlauch. The statue of St. Ladislaus, made in 1892, was evacuated from the main square of Oradea in front of the cathedral after the First World War, and since then it has been the main attraction of the garden.

The baroque style garden, which was created by terracing, can be found behind the rear, western faţade of the palace. The U-shaped side wings of the building enclose an inner courtyard, a cour d’honneur, from where a set of stairs leads to the lower level. In the 19th century photographs, at the bottom of the stairs a round space appears, with a pedestal-like stone structure in the middle and surrounded by pines and bushes. The overall view of the backyard was changed significantly during communism, being reshaped after an ancient Roman pattern. During the current renovations of the garden, the latter structures were demolished, except for the open-air stage amphitheater, while in place of the circular space were created new plant beds in the baroque style. On the south side of the palace, a lyre shape emerges from the hedge, honors the glory days of classical music in Oradea, when the court orchestra of Bishop Ádám Patatich was led by such excellences as Michael Haydn and Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.

In the period following World War II, the park was neglected for several decades. In 1944 the episcopal palace was converted into a military hospital, and since 1949 it functioned as the refugee camp for the communist refugees of the civil war of Greece, thus the building lost its ecclesiastical character for quite a while. The first renovation efforts for the green spaces took place once the Criș County Museum moved into the episcopal palace in 1970.

In 2019, during the dendrological survey of the garden it counted 633 trees, 237 bushes and shrubs, and 92 conifers. In the dendrological park, which has been neglected for years, the vegetation has gone wild, so during the renovation the structure of the garden was revealed with a strong pruning and thinning, paying special attention to the rare plants. On the north side of the palace and on the west side of the cathedral, the idyllic garden, which existed from the beginning, with its curved alleys and benches was left untouched. The trees in this part are not very old, but among them one can discover some valuable species and types with an exceptional beauty. In 2020, a biblical garden was developed in this area, with symmetrical round and rectangular flowerbeds, which evoke the puritan simplicity of the monastery gardens. In addition to pomegranates and fig trees, grape vines and exotic plants placed in bins, here one can see planted various kinds of cereals, aromatic and spice plants, crops, and bulbous flowers mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.

The rehabilitation project of the garden of the episcopal palace was designed by architect Anikó Király, by horticultural engineer Tünde Thalmeiner, and was executed by the French landscape gardener, Tancréde Jules Baudet and assisted by Tímea Kleszken, a student of landscape engineering. The renovation was carried out under the Interreg V-A Romania-Hungary Programme.

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