40 km away from Timişoara, on the way towards Lipova, hidden among the hills is the only round village in Romania: Charlottenburg. Due to its unique form, the entire village was declared a historical monument by the Minister of Cults and Culture. Still, when you get to Charlottenburg you need a few minutes to figure out its round shape.
The main touristic objectives on this hill are the Roman-Catholic Church, the secular mulberry trees, the Swabian houses and the hunting domain.
This village is named after Charlotte, the wife of the Banat governor
In 1772, during the second wave of German colonization, the governor of Banat, Count Karl Ignaz Clary-Aldringen, brings 32 families into Charlottenburg. The legend says that the village name was inspired by Charlotte, Count Aldringen’s wife. The colonists came from the Trento Province (the current Trentino region – Tyrol ), Lorena and Baden-Wurttemberg. After the year 1880, the village was populated by both Hungarian and Romanian families.
The village plan was realized by the engineer Carl Samuel Neumann Edler von Bucholt, being a clerk at the State Office from Lipova and also the one who coordinated the entire construction process. In the beginning, in the middle of the village there was a mulberry tree plantation, the center being marked by a well. In time, most of the trees were cut off and a school, a church and a few courtyards were built in the middle of Charlottenburg. The round village was also known as Bariţa, even though there are no documents that confirm the existence of another settlement with this name in the heart of Charlottenburg
Starting with 1780, the emperor Joseph II offered the villages for sale (through auction) to the nobles. Therefore, during 141 years, Charlottenburg changed several owners: Posfay Joszef (1782), Karl Schwarzenberg (1814), Peter Thököly de Késmárk, Georg Simon baron Sina of Hodos et Kizdia (1838), Anastasia Sina (1886), the Siegfried Graf von Wimpffen count (1891). The current church was built in 1876, by the Sina of Hodos et Kizdia family. The village also had a mill, built by a certain Irtel Martin and located in the vicinity of the village, until 1968, when it was totally destroyed by the communists. Still, applying the agricultural reform from 1921 lead to the dividing of the estate to the locals.1)Parcul de vânătoare Şarlota: 110 ani de activitate continuă (1904-2014), Editura Silvică, Voluntari, 2014
The hunting park from Charlottenburg 2)Parcul de vânătoare Şarlota: 110 ani de activitate continuă (1904-2014), Editura Silvică, Voluntari, 2014
In 1886, the Anastasia Sina Baroness married the Siegfried Graf von Wimpffen count. Being a passionate hunter, the count built, in 1890, a hunting lodge (which later became the headquarters of the Forestry Administrative Unit from Charlottenburg or Şarlota – how the village was also named). In 1902, Wimpffen has the Charlottenburg forest (located in the immediate vicinity of the village) turned into a hunting park. The reasons for making this park were: organizing hunting trips for him and his guests and protecting the cultures on his estate around the forest rather than the damage produced by wild animals.
Initially, the surrounding surface was only 18 ha and was populated by 12 types of common deers, brought from Boemia. To these, deers from Germany and Austria were added, their number growing to 92 specimens. In 1904, the surface was already extended to 1194,9 ha and the administrative headquarters was in the Maşloc (Blumenthal) village. It was surrounded by a 18 km long fence, with the interior made out of barbed wire, placed on acacia poles which were located 4 meters apart from each other and dug 85 centimeters into the ground.
After the First World War, all the properties of Count Wimpffen were taken by the Romanian state and the hunting ground became a Hunting Reservation for the Romanian Royal House. Between 1931 and 1948, the park became a component of the Green House Royal Forestry Administrative Unit – Timişoara. For now, it is still administered by the Timişoara Forestry Administrative Unit and the length of its surroundings is about 18,27 ha. The hunting grounds from Charlottenburg are the oldest from Romania and it has had an uninterrupted activity for almost 110 years (1904 – 2014).
The last Swabian from Charlottenburg
The Banat colonists left just like they came, over the course of three waves: the Swabians were the first to leave the Banat Grounds, right after the Second World War, the second wave left before the Revolution of 1989 and the third wave left right after 1990. Charlottenburg was not an exception. Therefore, in the round village, whose population was predominantly German, lives today just one Swabian: Peter Trimper, 76 years old.
Most of the Swabian houses in the village were renovated or turned into summer homes by the city folk. Unfortunately, in Charlottenburg there are no accommodation means for tourists. An excellent option is the Altringen village, located only 2 km away, where there is a Swabian style guest house.
You can travel to Charlottenburg from Timişoara by car, on DJ691, until the Maşloc village, where you steer right on DJ691A. Another transport option is by train, boarding at the North Train Station of Timişoara and getting down at the Şarlota Halting Place, a ticket costing only 4 lei.
Written by Alexandra Palconi. Translated by Doiniţa Spuză.