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The “Tower on the Hill” of Grădinari

Published in Places3 comments

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 IlieşuMonografia 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 IlieşuMonografia 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

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

Useful information

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.

Photo credit: Flavius Neamciuc / Cristian Sitov

Translated by Doiniţa Spuză


1 Nicolae IlieşuMonografia istorică a Banatului: Judeţul Caraş, Editura Mica Valahie, 2011
2 Nicolae IlieşuMonografia istorică a Banatului: Judeţul Caraş, Editura Mica Valahie, 2011
3 Grădinari (Caraş-Severin) – Enciclopedia României
4 Lista monumentelor istorice din judeţul Caraş-Severin
3 comments at "The “Tower on the Hill” of Grădinari"
  • The village of Caraşova – Prin Banat
    9 June 2015 at 17:51

    […] From Timişoara to Caraşova you can travel on the DN59/E70 and DN57 (see map), the village being only 18 km away from Reşita. Inside the commune there is, at least, one restaurant where you can have lunch. Near Caraşova there is also the Mill Ensemble from Gârlişte (see the photos below), the Oraviţa-Anina railroad and the Tower on the Hill from Grădinari. […]

  • The Old Mihai Eminescu Theatre in Oraviţa – Prin Banat
    19 October 2016 at 18:13

    […] Mountain Pharmacy History, and can be reached by means of the gorgeous Oraviţa-Anina railway. The Tower upon the Hill of Grădinari is also only 13 km […]

  • The First Pharmacy in a Mountain Region of Banat – Prin Banat
    19 October 2016 at 19:16

    […] Oraviţa, you can travel on the lovely Oraviţa-Anina railroad. The Tower on the Hill of Grădinari is only 13 km […]

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