Altitude: 220 – 310 m
Population: 10 225 inhabitants (2011)
At Oraviţa, the shade of the Viennese Baroque is still greatly felt. At every step, the traveller will be captured by the “Mozart Effect” through the unforgettable cultural events.
All the cultural events in the bohemian Oraviţa are today related to the two important men of culture from Romania: Mihai Eminescu and George Enescu. Poetry and music are here in a perpetual intermingling of the Romanian genius through unforgettable shows for Romanian and foreign tourists.
You should visit Oravita on January 15th every year, with the occasion of “The Eminescu Days at Oraviţa”, among the scholars and poets of Mountainous Banat. Here, on the stage of the oldest theatre building in Romania, namely the Old Mihai Eminescu Theatre in Oraviţa, the famous Pascaly ensemble performed in 1868, having as its prompter the great Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu.
You should also return to Cultural Oravița on November 5th, when the “George Enescu” Festival takes place, as a tribute to the great Romanian musician who held the first violin concert on the Oravița stage on November 5th 1931.
“The master came to Oraviţa on November 4th after the concert in Timișoara, being hosted during the two nights that he had spent in Caraș by Professor Carol Kanz. The concert took place on Thursday, November 5th 1931, at 21:00. There were spectators from all over Banat, and from Sasca Montană the locals came in six nicely decorated carts. The banquet was held at Corona Hotel, where Kanz depicted a great portrait of the great artist“, as director Ionel Bota evokes every time when he is asked about it. [Bota I., 2011]
At Oraviţa, the festival also hosts an extraordinary Enescu-Mozart concert, performed by the violinists of the Music Faculty of Timişoara. It is the moment when they remind us about the Mozart’s epopee in Oraviţa by the letter sent by the great Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to the Hofdaeml family in the spring of 1789, asking for a loan of 100 forints. “The letter kept by the Talescu family in Oraviţa (before 1968) is written on a bit yellowish, porous paper, with ink that has presently a brown-rusted colour, revealing its ancient age. It is almost certain that Mozart needed the 100 florins for his travel project in Germany, in the cities of Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Postdam and Berlin. Mozart had a lot of hopes with this trip because at Vienna he was in a tough financial situation. The journey lasted from April 8, 1789 to July 4, 1789. He had musical ties everywhere he showed up and sang in front of important personalities in all the places, but returned poorer, both materially and artistically, than he was when he had left. The letter from Oraviţa was the only known letter by which Mozart addressed the judicial Chancellor Hofdeml.
After Mozart’s death, Hofdeml believed a rumour according to which his own wife had cheated on him with the great musician, who had been her teacher at a certain period. This has resulted in a tragedy provoked by jealousy. Hofdeml hurt his wife and after that he committed suicide. “ [Lichtfuss, T., 2008]
How the letter arrived at Oraviţa is as well as interesting. After being built in 1816 and inaugurated in 1817, the old theatre in Oraviţa, small but extremely beautiful, realized in the Baroque Viennese style, attracted many theatre groups from the empire and all over the world. Among them was an ensemble led by Ludwig Duba, who, delighted by this mountain town, settled in Oraviţa and brought his sister-in-law, the opera singer Mathilde Chundi, to earn her living by giving singing and piano lessons. But unfortunately she was ill, and before she died in 1905, she gave the Talescu family this letter from Mozart, confessing that she had received it from one of her admirers.
In musical Oraviţa, “the holy purpose of music is to eliminate hatred, to quench passions, and to bring the hearts closer together in a warmth brotherhood, just as the great antiquity understood it, creating the myth of Orpheus” and how the great violinist and composer George Enescu wrote in his times.
Continuing the walk toward the centre of the town, you will see in front of the Greek Catholic Cathedral the “Oak Leaf” monument, erected in honour of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, who came to Marila resort, near Oraviţa, renowned for its clean and healing air for those suffering from lungs ailments.
It is not possible to end the walk without visiting the first mountainous pharmacy’s museum from Romania: The Pharmacy called “The black eagle“, an estate of the Knoblauch family in Oraviţa. You will be surprised by the age and tradition of the medical care practiced in the Mountainous Banat.
Entering the museum, you will be impressed by the “vintage photography” of the main room where, in this space, time seems to have stopped two centuries ago. You will see the wooden, glass and porcelain “containers” with chemicals and medical substances were kept. The mould press is also very interesting, which was used for making pills from medicinal herbs. Visitors can admire the pharmacy utensils brought at that time from all the corners of the world: a functioning microscope, a laryngoscope kit manufactured in Vienna, but especially a cash register brought from Cleveland (USA), which can be seen today only in Western movies.
The Natural Pharmacy from the Mountainous Banat is related to the name, fame and professionalism of the Knoblauch family, a name for the history of Oraviţa and these places. In the imperial Banat, after 1718, the so-called “pharmacies of the hand” were opened for the medical assistance of the people (colonists and locals) who were doing hard work (metallurgy, mining, coal); such a loose-leaf network being also the Black Eagle (opened in 1753) among the Banat’s pharmacies. And on October 19, 1796, the act of ownership was signed by which the Mountains Directorate was selling the space and the equipment of the old Berg Apotheke (mountain pharmacy) from Oraviţa to Joannes Lederer; it is the location of the today’s pharmacy museum. It is the act attesting the opening of the first mountainous pharmacy in Banat and the entire Romanian space. After Lederer’s death in 1819, the following year, on 1 September 1820, Karl Knoblauch buys from Lederer’s widow the Oraviţa pharmacy along with the four “pharmacies of hand / branches” situated at New Moldova, Sasca Montană, Steierdorf-Anina and Dognecea.
Looking at the crest from1486, as the unique emblem of the Knoblauch family all over the world, the attention is drawn by the three stalks of garlic cloves (knoblauch means garlic in Romanian) arranged in oblique crosses. The pharmacy building has its oldest representation in an engraving dating to 1838 and realized by Richard Puchta.
The Knoblauch family comes from a Swiss canton. The first pharmacist of the well-known Oravița family, Karl Knoblauch, was born on 28 January, 1797, as the son of the engineer Augustin Filip, the director of the blast furnaces and mint of Ciclova Montană. He studied medicine at the University of Vienna. You can read in the pharmacy’s library about the “recipes”, used for the preparation of medicines from different medicinal herbs, greatly valued all over Europe. In the pharmacy lab in 1838, Karl Knoblauch and his friend, doctor Gheorghe Roja, prepared for the first time the anti-smallpox vaccine and applied it successfully to a young man from Ilidia.
Karl also collaborates with Pavel Vasici in that time for the analysis of the thermal water from Ciclova Montană and supports the opening of the Oraviţa Brewery. He also supports the Schott brothers in the collection of Carrasean folklore, whose fairy tales, subsequently copied by Baron Kunisch, have inspired Mihai Eminescu’s Lucifer.
Karl Knoblauch’s heirs keep the Oraviţa pharmacy open until 1974, when the last descendant of the family migrates legally to Germany.
Inside the pharmacy you will also see the pharmacy logo, dating from 16 February 1855, with the name “The Black Eagle”.