The restoration and revitalization of Oradea Fortress, to be included in the local tourist circuit.
Oradea Fortress is one of the most important late-medieval architectural monuments in Transylvania, dating from the 11th century. Since the 16th century, the fortress was acting as a defensive role for the city, with its stellar-heptagonal architecture. It had religious and military roles across time and, after several lost battles, the ruined fortress was declared (in 2004) a monument of international importance (A-class).
Nowadays, placed in the heart of Oradea, a beautiful medieval town of 200.000 inhabitants, the Fortress is the core magnet of the area, for tourism, businesses, cultural activities and events, leisure and local community. The transformation was possible in 1992, after its inclusion in the municipal heritage list. Since 2009, Oradea Municipality restored 8 enclosed buildings hosting 190 rooms and over 13.500 sqm surface, due to two FEDR projects.
Since 2018, Oradea City Museum is managing the entire heritage of the fortress, including a lapidarium, a bakery museum, an art gallery and sections dedicated to the history of pharmacy and to multi-confessions. Besides the main touristic purpose, revitalization is constantly performed by renting spaces to local businesses or temporary events, organization of cultural events and exhibitions such as the Medieval Festival, St. Ladislau Festival, Anatolian Food Festival, Street Food Festival, Kids Fest, The Big Picnic, Summer Film, Easter Fair, etc.
The restoration of Oradea Fortress implied 3 subsequent projects financed from FEDR, namely from Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013 and 2014-2020, totalizing 21 M EUR. The current management activities performed by Oradea City Museum–Cultural Complex are carried out by 5 full-time employees.
Evidence of success
The fortress rehabilitation changed literarily the face of the medium-sized medieval city. Since its revival, included in a complex restoration of several monument buildings in the old center of Oradea, the city has registered the biggest increase of tourists in the country in the last 3 years, with an average of 12% raise. Intense promotion and vivid cultural activities added more successful ingredients.
Attracting visitors takes time and requires additional investments, such as transport infrastructure and events' organization.
The limits of the funding programmes on the use of the restored spaces, archaeology sites discoveries changing the course of the restoration, bringing bureaucracy burden.
Potential for learning or transfer
Having such inherited treasure in the middle of a city is a fortune that needs constant care. The initiative of Oradea Municipality to attract European funds for the rehabilitation, preservation and capitalization of the monument is a replicable initiative at the level of each municipality under cultural heritage priorities. It mattered the A-class classification of the monument, of national or international importance.
Vivid and constant activities within the fortress, organized by Oradea City Museum, transformed the fortress into a living character of the city, attracting the local community and other visitors.
Economic activities allowed by the heritage rules, such as restaurants and libraries, created constant visitors flow both, during the day and in the evenings. Active promotion and wide-scale events, including the International Medieval Festival and Oradea City Days, are multiplying the effects.