31 December 2010

Târgu Mures

Visiting in November 2010 the Transylvanian city of Târgu Mures (Marosvásárhely, Neumarkt), I could not help admiring its ancient center, which still shows beautiful Art Nouveau elements - in vogue among Hungarian architects of the early 20th century - promoted in the years prior to World War I by its visionary mayor György Bernády.

Part of the important urban transformations that the city suffered, and which were to delete its rural features, is the Great Synagogue, considered by many the most beautiful Jewish temple in Transylvania. Opened in 1900, it was built according to the plans in eclectic style by the Viennese architect Jakob Gärtner (1861-1921). 

In 1944, under the dictatorial regime that ruled Hungary from 1940 until that year in Northern Transylvania, about 7000 Jews from the city - 15% of the population - were concentrated in ghettos and then deported to death in Auschwitz. In all, 150,000 Jews were deported from all over Northern Transylvania. Today, in the current province of Mures, Jews are not more than 200.

In 2003, Romanian local authorities inaugurated, in a central square, a memorial to those victims. The statue, representing an embraced family, was performed by one of the survivors of the tragedy: Martin Izsak.

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