The origins of the city of Oradea date back to the beginning of the 12th century, although it was not until the 15th century that the city flourished culturally upon the arrival of humanist and Renaissance influences. It was during this time that the Italian humanists dubbed Oradea "Civitas Felix", the Happy City. In the same century, the Viennese astronomer Georg Peuerbach set up a famous astronomical observatory in the city, but its true beauty is represented by its Secessionist buildings, veritable palaces that were constructed at the turn of the 20th century.
The originality of their architectural expression is completed by exceptional stucco and ironwork ornamentation. This artistic phenomenon took shape at the beginning of the 20th century due to the fact that the city experienced strong economical development accompanied by a spirited cultural dynamic, converting Oradea into a major centre of Transylvanian art and literature during the first half of the 20th century.
One of the most eloquent expressions of this economical growth can naturally be seen in the city´s architecture, as its urban profile was remodelled by an array of buildings that bear the specific signs of fin-de-siècle art, whose arabesques have bestowed the city with a special atmosphere even today, their elegance and exuberance earning the city the name of "Little Paris". The exceptional artistic vision of several renowned European architects contributed to shaping the face of the city primarily between the 19th and 20th centuries.
The city´s key architectural figures are Kálmán Rimanóczy Jr (creator of the magnificent building that currently houses the Town Hall, as well as several other palaces - Moskovits I, Apollo, Venetian Palace, Barristers´ Edifice, Greek-Catholic Bishopric Palace), the Vágó brothers László and József (who designed Oradea´s most modern residence at the time, Darvas, as well as La Roche, Moskovits II and the complex that was used by the school of gendarmerie), Valér Mende (Róth Residence, Ertler mansion), Marcell Komor and Dezsö Jakab (followers of Ödon Lechner who designed the most impressive and spectacular Art Nouveau buildings in Oradea and throughout Transylvania, such as the Black Eagle Palace, Adorján I and II mansions, Stern Palace and Schwartz mansion), Franz Löbl (Ullmann Palace), Ferenc Sztarill (Poynar mansion, Hotel Astoria), Zoltán Bálint and Lajos Jámbor (Fuchsl Palace), György Tarr (Darvassy Palace), etc.
Modern ideas that arrived from Paris, Vienna, Bucharest or Budapest found a natural home in Oradea at the time and began forming a taste for European culture in the local inhabitants. The city is now an established cultural and spiritual centre with a long and prestigious tradition, a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional city. The beauty of these images will undoubtedly attract the attention of those interested in international architecture and cultural practices that are connected to an extremely valuable common heritage.