Also known as the "Dom", the church-cathedral in Union Square was built after the expulsion of the Turks, at the initiative of Emperor Charles IV of Habsburg.
Also known as the "Dom", the church-cathedral in Union Square was built after the expulsion of the Turks, at the initiative of Emperor Charles IV of Habsburg. The plans for its construction were apparently made by the imperial architect Josef Emmanuel Fischer von Erlach, who also took care of the construction of the imperial palace, Hofburg, in Vienna. Local engineers Johann Theodor Kostka, Carl Steinlein, and Caspar Dissl made a significant contribution to the construction of this monument. The works were started in 1736, but after two years they were interrupted due to the plague epidemic, which brutally hit the city. In 1754 the church was partially completed, the edifice being blessed by Bishop Franz Anton Engel of Wagrain, who celebrated for the first time here the Holy Mass, in the new Cathedral built in Baroque style, on September 8, 1754.
The dome is built in baroque style, with two towers; they were not built too high, with the purpose for them not to be an easy target during the war; this being the architectural logic of those turbulent times. The icon of the main altar "Saint George" is made by the director of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, Michael Angelo Unterberger, in 1754, and the icons of the side altars were made by the Viennese painter Johann Nepomuk Schöpf in 1772. The organ was built by the Timisoara resident Leopold Wegensteinin order to replace an older instrument from the 18th century, and the first clock in the tower was the work of the Timisoara watchmaker Josef Martin Kidt.
The solemn consecration of the Cathedral of the Bishops of Cenad was held on April 24, 1803, the day after the feast of St. George, the spiritual patron of the Dome, by Bishop Ladislaus Köszeghy of Remete. In 1926 and 1986 the Cathedral underwent two major repairs, and in 2003-2005 (the restoration project and site monitoring were carried out by architect Mihai Botescu), and in 2011 the dome was renovated on the outside.
- Matei Barbu, Timișoara: churches and temples, ArtPress Publishing House, Timisoara, 2012.
Saint George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
“The street in front of the hotel leads to other such narrow, shady streets with tall buildings, one like the other, mostly dating from the late 18th or the early 19th century. Other streets run right and left, up to some stately Austrian-era building with a faded green, reddish facade. It is a solemn, sad big city, built by order, according to unaltered administrative norms. It’s the most artificial, the most Hapsburg city I have ever encountered, but at the same time, the most balanced, the most “dutiful”, the most compliant with building and maintenance regulations.
A few steps away, on the right, there’s the big square, which is very big indeed, yet surrounded by less impressive buildings. Here, too, one can see one of those official, religious historical monuments that the Austrians left behind. The entire belt of buildings is dominated by the towers of two churches. One of them, in a style that is very common in this part of the world, typical of 18th-century Vienna, is the Serbian church, which one could hardly tell apart from the Roman-Catholic church in front of it.” (Nicolae Iorga, Selected Travel Notes about Transylvania and BanatLucian Cursaru (Ed.), vol. II, Bucharest, Minerva Publishing House, 1977, p. 119)
The picture shows the towers of the Roman Catholic Dome in Unirii Square. The photo was taken in the 1970s. My husband photographed this dome a lot, because it was his favorite building at the time. He was born near the Dome, Matei Corvin Street, spent his childhood in Unirii Square and had so much love for this building. This building is also called the dome church or DomkircheUntil the end of the 19th century, it was assumed that the construction plan was drawn up by the Viennese architect Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, who lived between 1693 and 1742. He was Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlachs son, who was equally as well known as him. In an 18th century document, "Wienerische Diarium", there are plenty of mentions about the laying of the foundation stone of the Timişoara Dome and, at the same time, it is mentioned that the architecture and construction plan was drawn up by H. Johan and Jacob Schelblauer, councilor of Vienna city. The residence of the Roman Catholic diocese bishop was originally in Cenad, but after it was devastated by the Turks, it was moved to Szeged. In 1733, Emperor Charles VI moved his headquarters to Timisoara and the bishop at that time was Adalbert Baron of Falkenstein. Following this move, it was decided to build a cathedral, an episcopal palace and houses for the canons, which led to the laying of the foundation stone of the Dome on August 6, 1736. The works lasted a long time. In 1773 the construction was completed, directed by engineers Carl Alexander Steinlein and Johan Theodor Kostka. Regarding the interior of the Dome, I would like to highlight the main altar. The Viennese sculptor Johan Joseph Rössler built two very large statues, of St. Charles Boromeus (left) and St. Theresia (right), as well as the pair of cherubs that dominate the ornamentation in the central part of the altar. I must mention that the choice of these two saints was not accidental. St. Boromeus was the patron saint of Emperor Charles VI, under whom the construction of the Dome began, and St. Theresia of Avila was the patroness of Empress Maria Theresia, under whom the construction of the Dome was completed.
The painting of the main altar of the Dome represents Saint George on horseback, fighting the dragon. From the historical data regarding the diocese, we found out that starting from the 11th century, Saint George is considered its patron saint. Due to this fact, Gerhard von Sagredo, the founder and first bishop of the diocese between 1030 and 1046, was baptized with the name of George. Saint George became a symbol of the victorious battles with the Turks. The creator of this work of art was the famous painter and director of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, Michael Angelo Unterberger. It is assumed that four of the six side altar paintings are the work of the painter Johan Schöpf, born in Prague in 1735. Schöpf studied in Munich, but he did his paintings in Germany. He was a member of the Academy. Among the precious works of Viennese decorative art, we can mention, among others, the silver chandelier from the main altar, the so-called "Eternal Light" created by the Viennese jeweler Josef Moser. Out of the four bells of the Dome, only the large one has been preserved, and it was poured in 1763 by Joseph Steinstock in Buda, Hungary. The clock in the tower is the work of the Timisoara craftsman master Martin Kidl in 1764. The first organ, Baroque style, beautifully ornamented, was built by the Viennese craftsman Paul Hanke in 1757. It was replaced at the end of the 19th century with the current organ, made by the craftsman Leopold Wegenstein from Timisoara. Bishops, dignitaries and many prominent personalities of the city are buried in the crypt of the Dome.
The last restoration of the Dome, as well as of the other constructions around it, including the houses of the canons, took place in 1981-1982. The exterior works were being led by the Timişoara architect Franz Braun, and the interior ones by the Milthaler brothers from Arad.
Else Schuster b. 1928, interviewed by Simona Adam in 2001 in Timişoara. Archive of the Oral History and Cultural Anthropology Group, Third Europe, BCUT
12 Unirii Square is the Catholic church, built between 1736-1773 - it took 37 years to build. It was interrupted because of the plague. Hundreds of oak poles were planted. The building is cross-shaped, with a single nave. The architect is Fischer von Erlach. You can find him in the literature and in the inscription at the entrance to the church. In 1906 they made the organ with an electric motor, with special acoustics. Concerts are held. It is a mixture of baroque and rococo.
Zdravco Fenlacichi, n. 1928, interviewed by Simona Adam in 2001 in Timișoara. Archive of the Oral History and Cultural Anthropology Group, Third Europe, BCUT
In this picture we can see the Timişoara Infantry Regiment 61, in Domului Square, Domplatz - today Unirii Square, before leaving for the war in 1914, in Timişoara. The commander of this regiment was Colonel Weiss. This regiment went directly to the front in Galicia, today Poland, in August 1914, where it took part in the Rohatin battle - which unfortunately ended with a catastrophe for the regiment.
(Else Schuster interviewed by Adrian Onică)
These pictures represent the festivity in Unirii Square, celebrating the entry of the Romanian army troops in Timişoara, on August 3, 1919, after the First World War.
(Else Schuster interviewed by Adrian Onică)