The current building of the Episcopal Palace was built by the Austrian authorities in 1723, being intended from the beginning for the purpose of functioning as an episcopal palace, even if for a long time it housed other institutions.
The current building Episcopal Palace was built by the Austrian authorities in 1723. Although it seems that it was intended from the beginning to function as an episcopal palace, the building housed other institutions for a long time. In 1780, part of the building was donated to the Episcopate, and the other part to the Cathedral Chapter, an ancient episcopal office consisting of high-ranking clerics, who assisted the bishop in leading the diocese. In 1889, during the reign of Bishop Alexander Dessewffy of Csernek et Tarkeő, a major overhaul took place, which cost 420,000 florins. This is how the building got its current appearance. In 1891, on September 16, while visiting Timisoara, Emperor Franz Josef I was hosted in this building.
Until the summer of 1950, an episcopal chapel with a wooden altar was kept upstairs, as Bishop Joseph Lonovics of Krivina received it as a gift from the Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich. In 1950, the building was confiscated, and the chapel, the other rooms, the library, and the archive were severely damaged or even fully destroyed. The episcopal palace was restored in 1951, by the court decision, but it was abolished and reduced to the rank of a deanery by the communists. During that period, the building housed apartments distributed to various people, the ones loyal to the communist regime were upstairs, and on the ground floor, there were various shops.
During the years 1994-1996, the building was subjected to an extensive process of restoration and renovation, trying to restore it, in the most faithful conditions, to the stage before 1950. With the completion of this restoration, the halls, administrative offices, apartments, the chapel, the library, and the archive found their place in the episcopal palace. On the ground floor, in a wing of the Palace, the Collection of religious art of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Timişoara was arranged.
- Matei Barbu, Timișoara: churches and temples, ArtPress Publishing House, Timisoara, 2012.
The Roman-Catholic Episcopacy Palace
“I walk back home making a detour along the Bega river, on the alleys, my eyes lingering on Hunyadi’s red castle, hemmed in by white crenels. The sunset lights up its windows set deep under the vaults and examines the cornered watchtower, over which wander feudal memories and lean royal shadows: Charles Robert, Ion Corvin, Matei Corvin.
Timişoara, a halt for delights and rest, a theater of crown dramas, a brilliant county seat, a shelter afflicted by bloody plagues, turned into a place of oriental filth at the time when Islam called from the minarets, for more than a hundred years, the beleivers who had flooded all the fields of Banat. You can find the Timişoara of all memories if you take a stroll around the calm streets that lead from Hunyadi’s red castle, going past the Banat garrison and the old stone houses, to the ruins of the citadel gates. You can still see the building that housed Eugene of Savoy, the one who freed Timişoara from the Turks. But I don’t want to hear the stories of the ruins tonight. The full moon beats down on the banks of the Bega and the terraces and gardens burst with light in the dark. ” (Cora Irineu, Letters from Banat, Published and Printed by Cultura Națională, Bucharest, 1924, p. 38-39)