A MUSEUM OF THE PAST FOR
The Mountainous Banat has been for a long time the province from “The Edge of the Empire”. Only in this way can the tourist understand the name of the County Museum of Ethnography and Border Regiment in Caransebeș: “a museum of the past for future times“ [Irimia N., 2012]. Starting from the centre of Caransebeș to the Sycamore Tree Park, the passer-by will see the Statue of General Ioan Dragalina from a distance. From the statue, continuing to walk through the park, along the alley dividing the dendrological reserve with the 23 sycamores, you reach the museum.
Established in 1962, the County Museum of Ethnography and Border Regiment has had its headquarters since 1989 in a building that served as the barracks of the Romanian-Banat Regiment no. 13 of Caransebeș, built in 1753.
The building is composed from a ground floor and first floor, and has the shape of a U letter, with an interior courtyard of 3600 m2 in which, during the spring, summer, autumn and winter, different feats are organized: the Martisor Feast, the Gugulans’ Festival, the Folk Crafts Fair, the Gugulans’ Autumn Fair and the Winter Traditions Festival.
On the ground floor there is the exhibition dedicated to Empress Elizabeth, where one can see one of the most beautiful statues depicting Sisi in all her splendour. The story of the history of the art monument is revealed to the visitors by the museum enthusiasts. Also on the ground floor there is the permanent exhibition of the medieval Church from the time of the Caran (Sebeş) Fortress. You will see the graphic reconstruction of the religious monument’s architecture, surrounded by jewellery displays found at the ruins of the church – as evidence that medieval Sebeş was a settlement with wealthy people.
Upstairs you will see the two collections that give the name of the museum: the ethnography collection and the collection of the border regiment.
The ethnographic collection includes over 1,000 pieces that reflect both the traditions and customs of the Land of Gugulans, as well as the traditional occupations of the inhabitants: cereal cultivation, livestock breeding, grazing, forestry, harvesting of natural plants and fruits, hunting, fishing and mainly arboriculture and apiculture. You can also admire the beauty and authenticity of the popular costumes.
The collection of the border regiment is distinguished by the “hoard” of weapons, photographs and documents that evoke the role of the Romanians in the period of the border guards of Banat. The story of the history of the Border Regiment and of the most prominent people in Banat is always seen through four historiographies: Romanian, German, Hungarian and Serbian.
“The four historiographies have given up not once to the academic calm in favour of the polemic tone. For a long time, they have evolved parallel and reactive, in the sense of “provoking” the other. Everyone has created clichés that they have not given up even today. Romanians emphasize Latinity and their continuity, the Germans the civilizing role, the Hungarians are always making efforts to take precedence in the governance of Banat, and the Serbians seek to legitimize the rights given by their early presence in this place. These historiographies are as different as also similar to one another, maybe because of the myth shared by all of them, without any exception, for defending Christianity and culture against the assault of the barbarians, and probably because they all guarded the border of Europe. “[Leu V., 2010]
For more than 100 years (1765-1872), the Banat localities from the border of the Austrian empire with the Turks, on the Orşova-Caransebeş line until Marga, belonged to the Banat County. After the abolition of the border regiment, the Community Wealth was established on June 15 1873, for the administration of common goods in the border villages. The first president was elected General Traian Doda. Looking at the exhibits you should also listen at the same time to the history of the Banat County, recounted with great enthusiasm by the military historian Liviu Groza.
Descending into the courtyard of the museum, head your steps towards the Traditional Banat House. The interior design of the house brought by the tourist village Marga offers the visitor a travel back in time, being able to admire some unique household objects made from popular fabric, wood carving, iron processing and, of course, pottery. The fireplace, the sleeping stove with beds and stools, the loom, the lamp on the table and the geranium at the window will remind us of the house of the grandparents from the past.
Periodically there are temporary exhibitions of wood and glass icons, as well as from Romanian ceramic pots, executed until recently by master Ionica Stepan from Binis, whose “year of production” is lost in the mists of time. At the same time, contemporary art exhibitions are organized, like the one dedicated to sculptors and painters who participate every year either to the Teiuş Park Symposium (September) or to the Naive Painting Camp (August), astoniching with the harmony of colours and forms.
Beguiled by the amazing sightseeing, the tourists can reach to the museum’s other attraction by car: The Tibiscum archaeological reserve from Jupa, located 6 km from the current town of Caransebeș, on the “Romans’s Road”.