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Arad

 

The city of Arad houses an impressive number of historical buildings, combining a variety of architectural styles, form baroque to neoclassic. Among the many cultural landmarks found in this centuries-old city, Arad is home to one of the first conservatories in Europe and the first school for Romanian-language teachers in Transylvania.

 
Arad (copyright: creative commons)

Arad (copyright: creative commons)

About

Located in western Romania, in the historic region of Banat and Crisana, Arad is the capital city of Arad County. The city distinguish itself as the most important transportation hub on the Mures River, acting as a hub on the route of the Fourth Pan-European Corridor, which connects Western and Southeastern Europe.
 
History
Arad has a rich historical heritage, going back to the 11th century, when it was first mentioned in documents. Between 1660 and 1697, Arad was an “eyalet”, a primary administrative division of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the 18th century, the city became the center of the Eastern Orthodox Eparchy of Arad. In the 19th century, Arad developed tremendously, growing in size, population and economic importance.

Jewish heritage
Starting with the 18th century, Arad became a center of the Judaic community. The first Jews were allowed to settle in the city in 1717 and Jewish population peaked right before World War 2, when Jews made up 10 percent of the city’s population. In the 19th century, Arad became a center of Reform Judaism in Transylvania. To this day, Arad is home to the second largest Jewish community in Romania, after Bucharest.

Population
Arad has a diverse and multicultural population comprising several ethnicities, including Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Roma and others. In 2011, the population of Arad exceeded 159,000 residents, 85 percent of them being ethnic Romanians.

 

Must see

The Citadel of Arad
Erected in the second part of the 18th century, in the star-shaped Vauban style. The fortification was used as a prison during the 1784 peasant uprising led by Horea, Closca and Crisan.

The Administrative Palace
Built in the Renaissance architectural style, the building boasts a 54-meter tall tower. At the top of the tower, visitors can admire a large Swiss-made clock manufactured in 1878.

The Lutheran Red Church
A beautiful Neo-Gothic edifice built in 1905. Originally, the church had three bronze bells, but two of them were melted down to be used to manufacture ammunition during the First World War. 

The Old Theatre
Built in 1817 by Jacob Hirschl in the Baroque style, Arad’s theater is the oldest stone-built theatre in Romania and one of the oldest theatres in Southeastern Europe.

The Arad Synagogue
Built in the 18th century, the Synagogue stands as testimony to Arad’s vibrant Jewish heritage. The Moorish-style building features a massive organ that covers an entire wall and is considered one of the greatest in Europe.
 

For explorers

The Codru-Moma Mountains
A short drive from Arad, this low-lying mountain range is a protected natural area that is home to several rare species, including the brown bear, the timber wolf and the lynx.  The highest peak in the Codru-Moma range is Plesu at 1,112 meters.

The Bat Cave
Located roughly 100 kilometers from Arad, outside the resort town of Moneasa, the Bat Cave features impressive stalagmites, stalactites, and other spectacular geological features. One of the most impressive sights of the area, the Bat Cave was carved in the mountain’s black limestone over eons of water erosion.

The Crystals’ Cave
Thanks to its fabulous karstic formations carved in black limestone, the Crystals’ Cave is said to be unique in the world. Prehistoric bears lived in this cavern roughly 20,000 years ago. Bear fossils were discovered in the 1970’s and the Crystals’ Cave has been a touristic attraction ever since.
 

For families

The Water Tower  
Built in 1896, in the medieval dungeon architectural style. The tower is home to a permanent art collection called the Water Tower and to other art exhibitions. On the second floor, visitors can admire the works of local painters created between 1970 and 1980.

Trajan Bridge
Erected between 1910 and 1913, the Trajan Bridge crosses the Mureș river from one bank to the other. Its structure, which is inspired by the Gerber system, makes it seem like the bridge is actually made up of three adjacent bridges. Trajan Bridge is 9.8 meters wide, featuring two traffic lanes and suspended walkways.

Statue of Liberty
Located in the Reconciliation Square, the statue was built in 1890 with funds from public donations. The statuary group honors the thirteen Hungarian generals that were executed by the Hapsburgs in Arad, during the 1848 revolution. The statues symbolize “the awakening freedom”, “the spirit of sacrifice”, “the fighting spirit” and “the dying warrior”.

St Anthony of Padua Church
Built between 1902 and 1904, this cathedral serves the Roman-Catholic population of Arad. The eclectic style of the church combines elements from the classical, baroque and Renaissance architectural styles. 

Neptun Swimming Complex
If you want to relax with your family after a day of strolling through the streets of Arad, you can pay a visit to Europe’s second largest lido. Located near the Mures River, Neptun covers an area of 40 hectares of greenery and includes swimming pools, sports courts, lodging establishments and numerous bars and restaurants.


 

 

In the area

Zarand Land
Get a taste of traditional Romanian culture with a visit in Tara Zarandului (Zarand Land). The area, which includes the traditional villages of Birchis, Buteni, Barsa and Barzava is known for its handmade pottery and beautiful black-and-red embroidery. 

Soimos Fortress
Built at the end of the 13th century, the fortress became a royal citadel in 1315, but was abandoned by the end of the 18th century. The ruins of the fortress, used in the past to guard the trading routes between Transylvania and Crisana, is located on the outskirts of the town of Lipova, roughly 30 kilometers from Arad.

Dendrological Park
Located in Macea, 23 kilometers from Arad, the Dendrological Park spans an area of 20 hectares. Among the many rare species that can be seen here, visitors can admire Ginkgo bilobas, yews (Taxus baccata), Turkish hazel trees (Corylus colurna) and majestic black walnuts (Juglans nigra). A somber castle built in the neoclassic architectural style can be found in the middle of the park.

Minis-Maderat Vineyard
Only 20 kilometers away from Arad, the Minis-Maderat Vineyard is located on the western slopes of the Zarand Mountains. First attested in the 11th century, Minis-Maderat is one of the oldest vineyards in the country. The wines produced in this vineyard are internationally known and appreciated.

 

Practical info

How to get there
You can get to Arad by train, car, or plane. The city has an international airport, located only 4 kilometers from city center. Arad has a great tram network, and buses that link the city center to its districts and suburbs.