During the summer of last year, traveling towards Oraviţa, our attention was caught by this isolated stone tower, perched upon a hill, close to Grădinari village. We kept wondering about its story and, not so long ago, we went back in order to find all about it. The mysterious “Tower on the Hill” is 300 years old and was once part of the old church of Cacova.
The Cacova village and the Grădinarii commune of old days
The Grădinari commune was known in the past under the name of Cacova (Hung. Kákófalva – Nagykákova – Kákova, germ. Gros Kakowa – Kakowa). There is no proof of this settlement existing during the Middle Ages or during the Ottoman occupation. The first written proof that acknowledges the existence of this commune and its affiliation to the Vršac district, appears in 1723, when Governor Mercy ordered a new map1)Nicolae Ilieşu – Monografia istorică a Banatului: Judeţul Caraş, Editura Mica Valahie, 2011.
The old Cacova village center used to be located on top of the hill that was known under the same name, near the old church tower of today. In that very spot, one used to see scattered houses which, in this part of Banat, were known as huts. The population was always mostly Wallachian by origin and Orthodox by religion. It is said that, in 1780, because of the famine, many families left Cacova in order to settle in Nicolinţul Mare, in the current Serbian side of Banat2)Nicolae Ilieşu – Monografia istorică a Banatului: Judeţul Caraş, Editura Mica Valahie, 2011.
On the 18th and 19th century maps, Cacova appeared already settled in a valley region, same as today, and modeled after Austrian model, with straight and perpendicular streets. From 1855, the village enters the property of the Austro-Hungarian Railway Society. The name of Cacova is kept until the year 1964 when the communist authorities decide that it is inappropriate and change it, abusively, to Grădinarii. In 1968, the name has a letter cut short and it changes to Grădinari3)Grădinari (Caraş-Severin) – Enciclopedia României.
Tower on the Hill
The stone tower on the Cuca Hill (or Church Hill) is a remnant of the old Church in the Cacova cemetery. The construction of this place of worship started in 1731 and was finished in 17794)Lista monumentelor istorice din judeţul Caraş-Severin 2010 – Wikipedia.org.
According to the statistics of the Greek – Unitarians of Buda, in 1843, in Cacova there were 1907 people of Orthodox faith, 434 married couples and 45 students. The priests were known as Alexe Bordanovici and Ioan Pincu and the parish dated back to before anyone could remember. In 1906, probably due to the appearance of another church right in the Village Valley, the locals decide to demolish the existing one.
In 1987, through a common project of the local administration, The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Caransebeş and the Directorate for Culture, Cults and National Cultural Heritage of Caraş-Severin, work begins for the restoration of the tower and the vessel of the old church. Unfortunately, the project is suspended until 1989.
The altar table of the old Cacova church is still kept at the Grădinari parish. The Tower on the Hill is listed among the historical monuments of Caraş-Severin County, under the code of CS-II-m-B-11120, but, as in many cases around the Banat area and all over the country, this monument is in an advanced stage of degradation.
The Maria Thereza Bridge of Grădinari
On the road that exits the Grădinari village and goes towards Greoni, hidden from sight, is the Turkish Bridge or the Maria Thereza Bridge, which was constructed in the 18th century, over the Caraş river. Same as in the case of the “Tower on the Hill”, this once beautiful brick bridge has been transformed into a ruin, becoming impractical, reason for which it was replaced with a more modern one.
The meteor that fell in 1858 near Cacova
On May 19th 1858, inside the boundary of the Cacova commune, a meteor fell. The meteorological report of that particular phenomenon was as follows: One stone fell after detonations in the Valea lui Mildin, some 350 paces from the Cacova–Comorâşte road, near to a flock of sheep, to the sight of four shepherds. They found the meteorite pierced into the ground to 8 cm with singed grass around. The oldest shepherd, Zsurzs Csinka, lifted the stone, which almost burnt his hand. He handed over the meteorite to the council of the village, which forwarded it to the district authorities at Oravicabánya. Count Johann Baptist Coronini-Cronberg, Governor of the then existing Serbian Voivodship and Banat of Temes sent the stone to Wilhelm Haidinger, head of the Geological Institute in Vienna, who gave it to the Mineralogical Museum of the Court (now Natural History Museum). The stone was almost intact and weighed 580 g5)Kakowa – www.nhmus.hu.
The Grădinari village is located in the Caraş-Severin county, at approximately 96 km away from Timişoara (see map). It is also only 13 km away from Oraviţa (see map), where one can visit the Old Mihai Eminescu Theatre, the First Montanist Pharmacy or the Train Station, all of which represent three premiers in the past of the Romanian territory of today.
Translated by Doiniţa Spuză
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|1.||↲||Nicolae Ilieşu – Monografia istorică a Banatului: Judeţul Caraş, Editura Mica Valahie, 2011|
|2.||↲||Nicolae Ilieşu – Monografia istorică a Banatului: Judeţul Caraş, Editura Mica Valahie, 2011|
|3.||↲||Grădinari (Caraş-Severin) – Enciclopedia României|
|4.||↲||Lista monumentelor istorice din judeţul Caraş-Severin 2010 – Wikipedia.org|
|5.||↲||Kakowa – www.nhmus.hu|