(meaning Big Mine
, pronunciation in Romanian
: ; Rivulus Dominarum, Nagybánya, Frauenbach and seldom Neustadt
, באיה מארה ) is an important city in northern Romania
and the seat of Maramureş County
. It is located in the northern part of the county, on the middle course of the Săsar River
, at an average altitude of 228 metres, surrounded by the Igniş and Gutâi mountains. The city has an area of 233 km² and also contains the following settlements: Blidari, Firiza, Valea Neagră (The Black Valley) and Valea Borcutului. It is ranked 17th in terms of population.
Due to the concentration of economic activities found in the city and their importance, Baia Mare ranks third in economic importance in northwest Romania, after Cluj Napoca and Oradea.
The municipality of Baia Mare had a total population of 137,976 in 2002 , the majority being Romanians. In 2004 Baia Mare had a population of 149,735. The diverse ethnic composition of the city is as follows:
and 642 others, including Greeks, Turks, Italians, Lippovans, Poles and Slovaks.
Before the Second World War, Baia Mare had a Jewish Community of more than 1.000 Jews, out of which only around 130 still live in the city, due to the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust by the Hungarian Horthyst regime. Along with Rădăuți, Gura Humorului and others, Baia Mare was one of the country's shtetls. The city's Jewish community benefits from a synagogue, dating from 1885.
The city is situated in the vicinity of the Gutâi and Igniş Mountains. Altitudes reach 1400 meters in some peaks. The area is famous for its outstanding landscapes and the mountains are easily accessible from the city, famous routes being: Igniş (1307 m), Mogoşa (1246 m), Gutâi (1443 m), Creasta Cocosului (1450 m), Piatra Soimului (839 m), Plestioara (803 m), Dealul Bulat (683 m), Murgau (633 m), Dealul Crucii (500 m) etc. Some of these mountains provide skiing slopes, most notably the one at Mogoşa, which is the most difficult slope in Northern Romania.
The city is situated in the Baia Mare valley and is encircled on all sides by hills and mountains, which makes the climate in the city milder than the rest of the surrounding area. Proof of this is that the outskirts of Baia Mare are the only areas where you can find chestnut trees that usually need Mediterranean
climate to grow. This is the northern most reach of the chestnut tree
However, abrupt temperature changes take place and, during the winters, the temperatures may occasionally drop below -20 degress Celsius. The summers are mild, cooler than in the rest of the country. The precipitations in this area are quite high, due to the mountains in the north and east which do not allow the air masses to pass beyond the region's limits, the average rainfall being almost 1000 mm/year.
The city of Baia Mare is the most populated of all Northern Romanian cities (Satu Mare
), with a population of approximately 149,735. It also has high a level of culture and education, being home to many theatres, schools, museums and art galleries.
Not far from the city there are a few very important natural reservations, among which: Creasta Cocoşului, Cheile Tătărului, Lacul Albastru etc.
Because of its privileged location in the Eastern Carpathian
mountains it is considered one of the most picturesque cities in Romania
The Baia Mare Municipal Council, elected in the 2008 local government elections.
During the Bronze Age
, the region around Baia Mare was the realm of the Thracians
, from whom the Geto-Dacians
later descended. It was also part of the large Dacian
state formed by Burebista
The first mention of the settlement is from 1142, when King Géza II
settled it with Transylvanian Saxons
. The name of the settlement was Frauenbach
in German (Asszonypataka
in Hungarian, Rivulus Dominarum
), meaning “River of the Ladies” or “Women's Brook”. The richest documentation, however, is found in the act of privilege issued by Louis I of Hungary
King Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, as part of treat with serbian ruler Despotus Stefan Lazarević, gave him Nagybanya as a gift at 1411., until Depotus' death in 1426. A year after, lord of Nagybanya became Stefan's succesor Despotus Đurađ Branković of Serbia.. A document from that year speaks of the Mint in Baia Mare, one of the oldest and most famous in Transylvania.
In 1446, the mines and domain of Baia Mare became the property of the Hunyadi family as a token of gratitude for the bravery shown by John Hunyadi in his battles against the invading Turks. John Hunyadi commissioned the Saint Stephen cathedral whose Stephen Tower remains a landmark of the city to this date.
In 1469, King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary bestowed upon the city the right to develop its defense system by erecting fortified walls and keeps, strengthened by deep moats and large palisades to keep out the invaders. Baia Mare thus became an impressive fortress.
In 1567, it was annexed by John Zsigmond, prince of Transylvania. The city was in Szatmár County of the Kingdom of Hungary.
In 1600, as a sign of gratitude for having cancelled several of the city's debts, the tenant of the local mines, Felician Herbstein, ordered a coin to be minted in gold, displaying the effigy of Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), voivod of Wallachia. Collectors agree that this is an effigy of the prince of great numismatic value.
Between the years 1605 and 1606, 1621 and 1629, and 1645 and 1648, the city and the surrounding county was part of the Principality of Transylvania. From the 16th century the settlement was officially called Nagybánya.
In 1703, the legendary outlaw, Pintea the Brave (Pintea Viteazul), was witness, alongside Francis II Rákóczi, to the freeing of the city from the hands of the Austrian Habsburgs during a kurucs war. The year 1889 saw the printing of the first newspaper in the Romanian language - Gutinul - a weekly paper dealing in social, literary and economic matters.
In 1910, the town had 12,877 inhabitants: 9,992 (77.6%) Hungarians, 2,677 (20.8%) Romanians, 175 (1.4%) Germans. In the same time, the municipal area of the town had 30,584 inhabitants, including 83.73% Romanians, and 15.13% Hungarians.
From 1919/1920 (Treaty of Trianon) to 1940 (Second Vienna Award), Baia Mare was part of the Kingdom of Romania, and during 1940-1944 part of Hungary. The Treaty of Paris after the Second World War returned the city to Romania. From 1952 to 1960, Baia Mare was in the Baia Mare Region, from 1960 to 1968 in the Maramureş Region, and since 1968 has been in Maramureş County.
The economical activity of Baia Mare has been built around the mining activities located in the surrounding areas. However, after the 1989
Revolution these mining activities have decreased visibly, being replaced with several activities which have improved the city's economy in recent years. Nowadays, Baia Mare has become one of the most economically evolved cities in the region. As a result, several supermarkets have been built in the city and at least 3 malls are due to open for the public no later than December 2008
. As well, the largest sofa manufacturing plant in Eastern Europe, Italsofa, is located near the Baia Mare city ring.
The road infrastructure within the city is changing to be able to better connect the city and absorb the traffic on the express road which is to be built between Petea (at the border with Hungary) and Baia Mare, a project for which the feasibility study has just completed. The express road will connect the cities of Baia Mare and Satu Mare to the Hungarian motorway M3 and thus the whole European motorway network.
Baia Mare has signed town twinning
agreements or partnership agreements with the following cities:
- Serino, Italy, since 2003
- Nyíregyháza, Hungary, since 2003 - partnership only
- Hódmezovásárhely, Hungary, since 2001
- Bielsko-Biała, Poland, since 2001
- Hollywood, Florida, USA, since 2001