„HOREA, CLOȘCA AND CRIȘAN” OBELISK
One of the most famous events taking place in Alba Iulia was the execution on February 28th, 1785, when the leaders of the uprising from the past year, Horea and Closca, were killed. For the „troubles” caused, the execution manner was „being broken by wheel”, one of the most terrible punishments mentioned in the Theresian constitution. The event was important because of the effects that stirred at the time as well as for the fact that it was a symbolic one because the image of the leaders transformed later, beginning with the 19th century, into the image of both suffering and resistance of the Romanian people in Transylvania. And obviuosly, only after the union in 1918, the Transylvanian Romanian had the possibility to have monuments dedicated to their heroes.
The monument is placed in front of the 3rd gate on the place where, until 1937, there was an artificial hill raised there in order to protect the main gate from the direct fire of an enemy artillery, should a siege be in effect. Therefore, the monument was erected to commemorate 150 years from the execution of Horea and Closca, but it was finished and unveiled 2 years later than the initial plan. The unveiling on October 14th, 1937 represented a great importance event for the public interest of Alba Iulia because king Charles II was present along with his son, Michael, who was entitled „Great Voyvod of Alba Iulia”. As well as along other numerous political and cultural figures of the time: prime minister Gheorghe tatarescu, the president of the Senate – Alexandru Lapedatu, the president of the Deputy Chamber – M.N. Saveanu, the patriarch of Romania – Miron Cristea, the Metropolitan Bishop of Transylvania – Nicolae Balan, etc
The initiative and the fund collection necessary to the construction were conducted by the „Astra” Society. The decision for erecting the monument was taken from November 1932 and the fund collection began in February 1933. The collection took the form of a nationa campaign oriented mostly in schools and then completed with governmental funds.
The obelisk is the work of the sculptor Iosif Fekete (1903-1979), the student of Dumitru paciurea) or „I. Negrulea” as he appears mentioned on the base of the monument, in collaboration with the architect Octavian Mihaltan.
The obelisk of Horea, Closca and Crisan is considered to belong to the Art Deco current in Romania (globally thinking, Art Deco is a famous artistic movement from the twenties and thirties; within this current we have the Chrysler building in New York or the statue of „Christ the Saviour” in Rio de Janeiro). The height of the monument is 20 meters from the upper step to the top. Its height (for a while was the highest such monument in Romania) and its location make it visible from a great distance.
Inside the base of the obelisk there is an allegorical cell, the symblo of the punishment and the suffering of the uprising leaders. Above the cell there is a bas relief presenting the leaders of the uprising with Horea in the middle, Closca on his right and Crisan on his left. The three are in front of the armed peasants placed in the lower corners of the scene; the bodies of the peasants, along with a floral frame placed on the upper corners of the scene form the map of Great Romania. On the opposite side of the monument, or the eastern side there is a colossal statue of goddess Victoria, with wings and holding a laurel crown in her right hand. An inscription carved in marble on the base of the monument says: „Humble worship to Horea, Closca and Crisan”.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
The stone obelisk is impressive on one hand by his 20 meters height that makes it visible from kilometres. The monument is placed in front of the 3rd gate of the Citadel, on an artificial hill that in the past was meant to protect the main gate of the fortification from the direct shooting of artillery during a possible siege.
The obelisk was erected in order to celebrate 150 years from the execution of „Horea, Closca and Crisan”, the leaders of the 1784 Uprising. By its dimensions and artistic features, the monument was supposed to look according to the importance of a commemorated event.
Although it was finished with a two years delay, the inauguration on October 14th, 1937 was an event of maximum importance and public interest and it was performed in the presence of the king Carol 2nd and his son, Michael who, at the time, was entitled „Grand Voyvod of Alba Iulia”.
The allegorical cell inside the base of the Obelisk is a symbol of the oppression and the sufferings endured by the leaders of the uprising. Above the forged iron door on the western side, on a hone slab, the borders of Great Romania were sculpted and in its middle the figures of Horea, Closca and Crisan.
On the opposite side, the eastern one, the obelisk presents a huge statue of the goddess Victoria, winged and bearing a laurel crown meant for the three leaders of the uprising. If we were to characterize „Victoria” of Alba Iulia, we could say that she combines the feminine grace with the force of the idea that motivated the erection of the obelisk. An inscription carved in marble on the base of the monument urges us to look at it like a „Humble worship to Horea, Closca and Crisan”.
The monument is characteristic to the Art Deco style, an artistic current that combines the geometrical motifs with the floral ones and with the grace of the human body. We might say that the Obelisk is the living proof that an artist can harmoniously combine historical ideas of a great emotional tension, like those about the Uprising of Horea, Closca and Crisan, with the modernism in art. The Obelisk is the work of the architect Octavian Mihaltan and the sculptor Iosif Fekete. They are the artists who gave the monument the simple greatness of the nearby Apuseni Mountains.
The monument offers the passer-by the opportunity to vividly realize that he can see probably the most important public monument erected in the last 100 years in Romania.