Satu Mare is a city and the capital of Satu Mare County, Romania.
Satu Mare is the origin of the Satmarer Hasidic Jews, who lived there until World War II and now reside in New York City, Jerusalem, London, and other places.
The city spreads out from the Administrative Palace at 25 October Square, one of the tallest buildings in Romania. The boundaries of the municipality contain an area of 150.3 square kilometres (58.0 sq mi). Today, the city is an important academic, cultural, industrial and business centres in northwestern Romania.
Satu Mare is situated in Satu Mare County, in northwest Romania, on the Someş river, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the border with Hungary and 27 kilometres (17 mi) from the border with Ukraine. The city is located at an altitude of 126 metres (413 ft) on the Lower Someş alluvial plain. From a geomorphologic point of view, the city is located on the Someş Meadow on both sides of the river, which narrows in the vicinity of the city and widens upstream and downstream from it; flooded during heavy rainfall, the field has various geographical configurations at the edge of the city (sand banks, valleys, micro-depressions).
The formation of the current terrain of the city, dating from the late Pliocene in the Tertiary period, is linked to the clogging of the Pannonian Sea. Layers of soil were created from deposits of sand, loess and gravel, and generally have a thickness of 16 metres (52 ft)–18 metres (59 ft). Over this base, decaying vegetation gave rise to podsolic soils, which led to favorable conditions for crops (cereals, vegetables, fruit trees).
The water network around Satu Mare is composed of the Someş River, Pârâul Sar in the north and the Homorod River in the south. The formation and evolution of the city was closely related to the Someş River, which, in addition to allowing for the settlement of a human community around it, has offered, since the early Middle Ages, the possibility of international trade with coastal regions, a practice that favored milling, fishing and other economic activities.
Because the land slopes gently around the city, the Someş River has created numerous branches and meanders (before 1777, in the perimeter of the city there were 25 meanders downstream and 14 upstream). After systematisation works in 1777, the number of meanders in the city dropped to 9 downstream and 5 upstream, the total length of the river now being at 36.5 kilometres (22.7 mi) within the city. Systematisation performed up to the mid-19th century configured the existing Someş riverbed; embankments were built 17.3 kilometres (10.7 mi) long on the right bank and 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) on the left. In 1970, the embankments were raised by 2 metres (6.6 ft)–3 metres (9.8 ft), protecting 52,000 hectares within the city limits and restoring nearly 800 ha of agricultural land that had previously been flooded.
The city's largest park, the Garden of Rome, features some rare trees that are uncommon to the area, including Styphnolobium japonicum, native to East Asia (especially China); Pterocarya, also native to Asia; and Paulownia tomentosa, native to central and western China.
Archaeological evidence from Ţara Oaşului, Ardud, Medieşu Aurit, Homoroade, etc. clearly shows settlements in the area dating to the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. There is also evidence that the local Dacian population remained there after the Roman conquest in 101/106 AD. Later, these lands formed part of Menumorut's holdings; one of the defensive citadels dating to the 10th century was at Satu Mare (Castrum Zotmar), as mentioned in the Gesta Hungarorum. The city centre, Villa Zotmar, was inhabited by natives, but Teutonic colonists settled on the periphery, brought there in 972 by Queen Giselle of Bavaria; later, they were joined by German colonists from beyond the Someş River, in Mintiu.
In 1543, the Báthory family took possession of the citadel, proceeding to divert the Someş' waters in order to defend the southern part of the citadel; thus, the fortress remained on an island linked to the main roads by three bridges over the Someş. In 1562 the citadel was besieged by Ottoman armies led by Pargalı İbrahim Pasha of Buda and pasha Maleoci of Timişoara. Then the Habsburgs besieged it, leading the fleeing Transylvanian armies to set it on fire. The Austrian general Lazar Schwendi ordered the citadel to be rebuilt after the plans of Italian architect Ottavio Baldigara; using an Italian system of fortifications, the new structure would be pentagonal with five towers. In the Middle Ages, Satu Mare and Mintiu were two distinct entities, but between 1712 and 1715 the two gradually united their administration. On 2 January 1721 Emperor Charles VI recognised the union, at the same time granting Satu Mare the status of free royal city. A decade earlier, the Treaty of Szatmár was signed in the city, ending Rákóczi's War for Independence.
In 1918, as a result of the Union of Transylvania with Romania, Satu Mare ceased to be part of Austria-Hungary and joined the Kingdom of Romania. It underwent important economic and socio-cultural changes. The city's large companies (the Unio wagon factory, the Princz Factory, the Ardeleana textile enterprise, the Freund petroleum refinery, the brick factory and the furniture factory) prospered in this period, and the city invested heavily in communication lines, schools, hospitals, public works and public parks. The banking and commerce system also developed: in 1929 the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the commodities stock market were established, with 25 commercial enterprises and 75 industrial and production firms as members. In 1930 there were 33 banks.
In 1940, the Second Vienna Award gave back Northern Transylvania, including Satu Mare, to Hungary, leading to dramatic changes in the socio-political and economic life of the city, such as the extermination of its considerable Jewish population as part of the Holocaust. In October 1944, the city was retaken. Soon afterwards, a Communist regime came to power, lasting until the 1989 revolution.
Among the notable Jews of Satu Mare have been historian Ignác Acsády, parliamentary deputies Ferenc Chorin and Kelemen Samu, politician Oszkár Jászi, writers Gyula Csehi, Rodion Markovits, Sándor Dénes and Ernő Szép, painter Pál Erdös, and director György Harag.
The Jewish community in Satu Mare traces its origins to 1623, when the prince of Transylvania, Gabriel Bethlen, brought Jews there and permitted them to settle in the city. The first Jewish community organisation was established in 1842 and in 1858 the first synagogue was built in the city. On the site of the first synagogue, in 1893 the Decebal Street Synagogue was built. The largest Jewish presence was recorded in 1910, when 29,468 Jews were recorded in the city.
In 1944, the German-allied Hungarian government began applying the Final Solution to Satu Mare, then under its administration. Six trains left for Auschwitz-Birkenau on May 19, 1944, carrying approximately 3300 persons. In total, 18,863 Jews were deported. 14,440 Jews from Satu Mare were killed. The survivors who returned mainly preferred aliyah to the new State of Israel rather than remaining under the communist regime established in 1947. The 2002 census numbered 30 Jews in the city; in 2004, a Holocaust memorial was dedicated in the Decebal Street Synagogue's courtyard. Aside from the synagogues, two Jewish cemeteries also remain.
Major tourists attractions are:
- the Firemen's Tower, a 47 metres (154 ft) tall tower
- the Roman Catholic Cathedral
- the Lupa Capitolina statue
- the Chain Church
- the Administrative Palace, a 97 metres (318 ft) tall building
- the Dacia Hotel
- the Garden of Rome