FORMER MILITARY HOSPITAL
Until recently, this building could only be said that it is fitting to the beginning of the eighteenth century that it appears alongside a group of houses on the plan of the architect Giovanni Morando Visconti from 1711 and that through the sober portal on the northern side can be placed from the architectural point of view in the baroque register. For nearly 300 years, the building functioned as a military hospital (the Alba Iulia garrison was the first in Transylvania to benefit from such a settlement), and later as a neuro-psychiatric hospital.
Recent research has highlighted other things, more or less spectacular. The current form of the building was due to the architect Jeseph de Quadri, responsible for several neighboring works (the Batthyaneum Library and the Roman Catholic Institute) and for the management of the Alba Iulia fortress yard after 1718. Named in the old documents “the old hospital” or “the small hospital”, the building was meant to shelter and isolate the plague patients in a short time, according to the high incidence of epidemics in the first half of the eighteenth century. An extremely important detail of the edifice is that the western façade integrates the Roman wall of the castrum on a length of 15 m and a height of 4 m. Archaeologists have launched the theory that the wall is, in fact, a radical recovery from the period after the Aurelian retreat (about 270-275 AD), which also involved moving the alignment by about half a meter inward.
Currently, following a large project, based on Norwegian funding, a new museum functions in this building. The “Museikon” is dedicated to religious art, especially by valorizing the Romanian icon and book as a form of expression of folk spirituality and creation. A consistent part of the museum illustrates the Transylvanian icon in its many dimensions, with roots, ramifications, evolution, meanings, schools and currents. Local workshops are best represented by Laz’s “school”, the one from Maieri, but also pieces from Lancrăm, Mărginimea Sibiului, Mureş, Harghita, etc. are also present. The book collects 3600 volumes, of which two thirds are covered by the old Romanian book, prints up to 1830. Among them are the New Testament printed in Alba Iulia in 1648, the Bible in Bucharest -1688, Cazula lui Varlaam – Iaşi, 1643, Approbatae Constitutiones – 1653, Slavo-Romanian Tetraevanghel – Sibiu, 1551-1553 and others.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
The building hosted the first military hospital in Romania. More specifically, the building functioned as a military hospital for nearly 300 years and then as a civilian neuro-psychiatric hospital. Concerning its military purpose, we must point out that the Austrian garrison in the fortress was the first one in Transylvania to benefit from services of such an institution. The place also sheltered and isolated patients suffering from plague, an epidemic that affected Alba Iulia city in the first half of the eighteenth century.
The building is located on the western side of the Citadel, near the Coronation Cathedral, on Unirii Street, no.3.
Recent archaeological research has revealed data able to show the major importance of this place for both Alba Iulia and Transylvania. It is a medieval edifice which was built on Roman structures and which suffered major changes during the Habsburg era. The uncovered architectural elements have been highlighted so that visitors can understand the significance of the place. In one of the rooms, for example, traces of all three historical epochs intertwined – Roman stone are embedded within the medieval walls, all being covered with an Austrian vault. If we go back to the Roman origin of the place, we notice that the western façade integrated the Roman defense wall of the former Apulum Castrum, on a length of 15 m and a height of 4 m. The archaeologists have come up with the theory that the wall was, in fact, the result of some restoration works that took place in the period following the years 270-275 AD, which also involved wall alignment relocation inwards by about half a meter.
The building owes its current shape to architect Joseph de Quadri, who led the construction site of Alba Iulia Bastion Fortress after 1718.
The former Military Hospital was recently transformed into a museum, under the name of Museikon. It has been the first and sole museum of sacred art in Romania so far. The collection of the museum counts over 5,600 objects. A consistent part illustrates the Transylvanian icon in its many dimensions, with roots, ramifications, evolution, meanings, schools and currents. The book collection gathers 3,600 volumes, two thirds of which being represented by the old Romanian book collection, namely of prints until 1830. Here you can also find functional writing and painting workshops which put in value working techniques that are similar to the ones used in the past. Its initial purpose as military hospital has been brought to visitor attention. Medical instruments and mannequins are displayed in a basement room, as references to patients who were seeking their healing in the Citadel three centuries ago.
The Museikon will be open to the general public in autumn 2017.