In 1847, seven years before the inauguration of the first railroad in Romania of today, in the city of Oraviţa, work at what became the oldest train station in Romania was being finished. The edifice was equipped with an elevator – passageway, in order to give access to the platform from the upper street level, this being a premiere for those times.
Today, the once shining face of the first train station is fading more and more with every passing day, the old elevator has disappeared with the passing of time and the current personal doesn’t even know that it once was here. More so, on one of the anniversary plaques placed on the building, a few years are “cut” from the station’s age. The Oraviţa train station was declared to be a historical monument, belonging to the code LMI CS-II-m-A-11158.1)Lista monumentelor istorice din judeţul Caraş-Severin – Wikipedia
Inaugurated along with the first railroad from the Romanian territory
The construction of the Oraviţa station took place in the same time as the first railroad in the country, known as the Oraviţa – Răcăşdia – Vrăniuţ – Berlişte – Milcoveni – Iam – Straja – Iasenova – Roşia – Biserica Albă – Vracevgai – Socol – Baziaş, a 5 million florins investment. It was inaugurated on 20/30 August 1854 in order to carry goods, and on 1/11 November 1856 it could also transport people, with a number of three wagons. Even though the exact year of its completion is not quite clear, the station was clearly finished before the Oraviţa – Baziaş railroad.
According to the Caraş-Severin County historical monuments list that are enrolled in the Romanian national cultural heritage, the station would have been finished in 1847, but the Oraviţa train station was already finished in 1846, because, in a document from Granzenstein on the 12h of January 1847, the supervisor of the Oraviţa-Baziaş railroad construction was announcing its superiors that “everything was going according to the project.”2)Ionel Bota – Priorităţi tehnice româneşti în civilizaţia Europei. Scurtă istorie a celor dintâi căi ferate româneşti Oraviţa-Baziaş (1854) şi Oraviţa-Anina (1863) The station started its activity in 1854, in the same time with the Oraviţa-Baziaş railroad inauguration.
Anniversary plaque with wrong information on the Oraviţa train station
On one of the plaques from the train station, which belongs to the National Railway Company C.F.R – S.A., the following text is written, in Romanian: The Oraviţa Train Station, the oldest train station in Romania, along with the Oraviţa Locomotive Deposit, celebrate 150 years of uninterrupted activity in the public service on the 1st of November 2006. (1856 – 2006)
Prof. dr. Ionel Bota has explained to us how this error could have been made: “There was a music teacher here (and after he moved to Timişoara), Vasile Vărădean, who wrote in a hurry, in 1979, a subject, without citing the bibliography. He wanted to say something else: that in 1856 the train schedule for the passenger trains was officialized. Therefore, many people have gotten from that the train station has existed since 1856.”
Mister Bota told us about a very nice project from 1993, for the Oraviţa – Iam route (where today lies the frontier), through which the remembrance of the first railway route was wanted. The train was going to stop in Răcăşdia, Berlişte and Iam, where people would have sold fruit, being dressed in national costumes and while singing authentic music. Unfortunately, the project was rejected.
“The train station would have had the chance of a few specialists that would have repaired the elevator. At the bottom level there was an elevator that used to transport people. It was on the inside, in the middle of the building. In 1993, the elevator was still there. Now, the entrance towards it was blocked with a boutique. The stairs were later added, after ‘30-’40.”
Before talking to mister Bota, curious about the old elevator, we asked at the booking office about it, but the answer surprised us. We were told that many people come and ask about an elevator that would have once been inside the train station, but that this would have never existed.
The Oraviţa train station is on the Zona Gării street, nr 2, in the Cartierul Oraş Nou (see map). This is the most popular starting point towards the Oraviţa – Anina railway, the first in a mountain area of Romania, also named the Banat Semmering, due to its picturesque landscapes. Information regarding a trip on the Banat Semmering can be consulted on the online platform of the CFR or at the booking office.
In Oraviţa you can also visit the Old Mihai Eminescu Theater, the first Romanian theater edifice or the first pharmacy in the mountain area of the Banat museum. The “Tower on the Hill” from Grădinari is also 13 km away from this point.
Photo credit: Flavius Neamciuc
Translated by Doiniţa Spuză