Pitești

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For the village in Leova District, Moldova, see Beștemac.
Pitești
County capital
View of the central square with the Art Gallery on the right side of the picture and the City Hall building on the left side.
View of the central square with the Art Gallery on the right side of the picture and the City Hall building on the left side.
Coat of arms of Pitești
Coat of arms
Pitești is located in Romania
Pitești
Pitești
Location of Pitești
Coordinates: 44°51′38″N 24°52′4″E / 44.86056°N 24.86778°E / 44.86056; 24.86778Coordinates: 44°51′38″N 24°52′4″E / 44.86056°N 24.86778°E / 44.86056; 24.86778
Country  Romania
County Argeș County
Status County capital
Government
 • Mayor Tudor Pendiuc (Social Democratic Party)
Area
 • Total 40.7 km2 (15.7 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 155,383
 • Density 3,643/km2 (9,440/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Website http://www.primariapitesti.ro/

Pitești (Romanian pronunciation: [piˈteʃtʲ]) is a city in Romania, located on the Argeș River. The capital and largest city of Argeș County, it is an important commercial and industrial center, as well as the home of two universities. Pitești is situated on the A1 freeway connecting it directly to the national capital Bucharest, being an important railway junction, with a classification yard in nearby Bălilești. The city houses the Arpechim oil refinery, and is a marketing center for the automotive industry, in particular Automobile Dacia.

Inhabited since prehistoric times but first mentioned in the 14th century, it developed as a trading town in northern Wallachia, serving as an informal residence for various Wallachian Princes until the 18th century. From the 19th century and until the interwar period, it was an important political center for the National Liberal Party and the main residence of the Brătianu family of politicians. During the early stages of the communist regime, it was one of the main sites of political repression, with the Pitești prison becoming home to an experiment in brainwashing techniques.

Geography[edit]

The city is part of the historical region of Wallachia, being situated in its north and the westernmost part of its Muntenian subregion. It lies on the right bank of the Argeș, where the river meets its tributary, Râul Doamnei.

Pitești is situated 280 metres (918.64 feet) above sea level, on terraces formed by the Argeș, and belongs to the southernmost section of the Getic Plateau (an area of foothills leading up to the Southern Carpathians).[2] The Plateau is at its narrowest in the Pitești area, where it only reaches 30 km (19 miles) in width, as opposed to the 70–80 km (43–50 miles) average.[3] The city has access to a piedmont plain, known as Câmpia Piteștilor ("Pitești Plain") and characterized by water-meadows.[4] To the west, it abuts the Trivale Forest, which has been partly set up as a leisure park.

Pitești is adjacent to two reservoirs on the Argeș, in its Prundu area and in nearby Bascov (the Budeasa Dam).[5] It is situated downstream from Lake Vidraru and upstream from the reservoir in Băilești.[5]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The earliest traces of human settlements in this area relate to the Paleolithic.[6] Coins minted by the Dacians during the 3rd century BC, copying the design of Thracian tetradrachmon issued by Lysimachus, have been discovered here.[7] A small Roman castrum was built sometime in the 3rd century AD in the vicinity of present-day Pitești (part of a protection system for Roman Dacia and Moesia).[8] During the Age of Migrations, the Pitești area was, according to historian Constantin C. Giurescu, the site of trading between Vlachs and Slavs, which, in his opinion, was the origin of Târgul din Deal ("The Market on the Hill"), a separate locality.[9]

The first recorded mention of Pitești itself was on May 20, 1386, when Wallachian Prince Mircea I granted a gristmill in the area to Cozia Monastery.[6][10] Pitești was subsequently one of the temporary residences of Wallachian Princes.[6] Due to its positioning on the junction of major European routes (and its proximity to the Saxon markets in Hermannstadt, Transylvania), the city originally developed as an important commercial center.[11] By the late 14th century, it became home to a sizable Armenian community.[12]

At the time, the locality was only extending on the left bank of the Argeș, and gradually expanded over the river, reaching the hill slopes to the west[6] (in the 19th century, it completely absorbed Târgul din Deal).[9] While Pitești was commonly designated as a high-ranking town, a village of Pitești was still mentioned as late as 1528, which led some historians to conclude that the village and urban area coexisted within the same boundaries.[10]

Early Modern period[edit]

Pitești, Câmpulung and Curtea de Argeș on the Constantin Cantacuzino map of 1718

Although princely quarters have not been uncovered, among the rulers to issue documents from Pitești were Basarab Țepeluș cel Tânăr (1477–1481), Neagoe Basarab (1512–1521), Vlad Înecatul (1530–1532), Vlad Vintilă de la Slatina (1532–1535), Michael the Brave (1593–1601), Simion Movilă (1601–1602), Matei Basarab (1632–1654) and Constantin Șerban (1654–1658).[10] In addition, Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688–1714), who owned large sections of vineyard in the area, is reported to have spent several seasons in the town.[10]

Under Vlad Vintilă, who allied himself with the Holy Roman Empire against his Ottoman overlords, Aloisio Gritti (governor of Ottoman Hungary) and his Wallachian boyar partisans camped in the Pitești neighborhood of Războieni, where they were attacked and defeated by the Prince.[10] In 1600-1601, troops of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, led by Jan Zamoyski, were stationed in Pitești during their expedition against Michael the Brave (see Moldavian Magnate Wars).[10][13] Around that time, fighting occurred in and around the town as the new prince Radu Șerban clashed with the Ottomans and their Crimean Khanate allies.[13]

Constantin Șerban financed the building of the Orthodox Saint George Church, completed in 1656;[6][10] it was accompanied by a since-lost palace and adjacent gardens.[10] Around that time, the city was visited by the Arab chronicler Paul of Aleppo and by the Swedish politician Claes Rålamb.[13] It was during Brâncoveanu's rule that the city was home to Stolnic Constantin Cantacuzino, coinciding with the letters he exchanged with the English statesman William, Baron Paget.[10] A tower and other princely houses, built by Brâncoveanu outside the town, gradually deteriorated over the 18th and 19th century (the last standing structure was lost in the 20th century).[10] In 1689, Habsburg troops led by Louis William of Baden occupied the city as part of the Great Turkish War (they were repelled later that year).[13]

18th and early 19th centuries[edit]

Pitești in 1793, etching by Luigi Mayer

In November 1714, as a direct result of Swedish defeats in the Great Northern War against Imperial Russia, Swedish King Charles XII unsuccessfully sought an alliance with Sultan Ahmed III; on his way back from Istanbul, the monarch, met by troops under the command of Axel Sparre, passed through Pitești, and, after a three-week stay, made his way to Swedish Pomerania through Habsburg-ruled regions.[13] During the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–1718, Habsburg troops attacked and captured the town; Pitești was again the scene of battles during the Austro-Turkish War of 1737–1739.[13]

In 1780, the Tuscan numismatist Domenico Sestini passed through the Argeș region, and described the town as having 250 houses and 7 churches.[13] In 1804, the citizens requested to have an upper school opened (to offer lectures in Greek, the educational language of the time); their request was denied by Prince Constantine Ypsilantis.[14] During the 1790s, Pitești was visited by Luigi Mayer, a German pupil of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who left etchings of the region (including the very first one of Pitești);[13] they were published in London in 1810, with legends authored by T. Bowyer, whose caption for Pitești read "nothing more wild or romantic can be conceived".[15]

The town was an important location for events relating to the last stage of the Wallachian uprising of 1821 and the first stages of the Greek War of Independence: it was here that, in late spring 1821, the Wallachian rebel leader Tudor Vladimirescu settled after retreating from Bucharest, raising suspicion from his Eterist allies that he was planning to abandon the common cause (he was captured in the nearby locality of Băilești and executed soon after, on orders from Eteria leader Alexander Ypsilantis).[16]

Late 19th and early 20th century[edit]

Photo of Pitești ca. 1901

The city was developed further after the 1859 unification of the Danubian Principalities and the creation of the Romanian Kingdom. Around that time, and lasting until the interwar period, the city became a National Liberal center, largely due to the Brătianu family of politicians residing in the nearby locality of Ștefănești.[17] Their manor, Florica, housed most major reunions of the National Liberal leaders.[17] For a short period in 1882, Pitești was home to dramatist Ion Luca Caragiale, which has led some to propose that it was the unnamed National Liberal-dominated city depicted in Caragiale's famous play O scrisoare pierdută.[18]

By 1872, a national railway connection with the capital Bucharest and Târgovişte was built, at the same time as one linking Bucharest with Ploieşti through Chitila.[19] Overseen by Imperial German financier Bethel Henry Strousberg, this was the second project of its kind in Romania (after the Bucharest-Giurgiu rail link of 1869).[19] The Piteşti Town Hall was completed in 1886, and currently houses an art gallery.[6] The Argeş County Prefecture, designed by Dimitrie Maimarolu, was erected in 1898–1899 on the site previously occupied by an Orthodox hermitage; it is the present-day site of the County Museum of History and Natural Sciences.[6] Both buildings are eclectic in style, and feature frescoes painted by Iosif Materna.[6]

In 1868-1869, Piteşti was also the first city in Romania to have a recorded Seventh-day Adventist community, formed around Michał Belina-Czechowski, a Polish preacher and former Roman Catholic priest who had returned from the United States (the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania was established only after 1918).[20]

From late autumn 1916 to 1918, during the World War I battles on the Romanian front, Piteşti was occupied by the troops of the Central Powers. The city was originally abandoned by the Romanian Army and taken by the German commander August von Mackensen as the front stabilized on the Olt River, before Mackensen was able to occupy Bucharest and the entire southern Romania.[21] During the post-war existence of Greater Romania, Piteşti was a regional cultural center, notably hosting the 1928-1929 series of the magazine Kalende (published in cooperation by literary critics Vladimir Streinu, Şerban Cioculescu, Pompiliu Constantinescu and Tudor Şoimaru).[22]

World War II and communism[edit]

Tower blocks in Piteşti, photographed in 1970, shortly after their completion

The city was affected in various ways by World War II and the successive regimes. After the fascist National Legionary State was proclaimed by the Iron Guard in late 1940, a bronze bust of former Premier Armand Călinescu (whom the Guard had assassinated in September 1939), was chained and dragged through the city streets.[23] In December 1943, under the dictatorship of Conducător and Piteşti native Ion Antonescu, it saw the last deportation of Romani people into Romanian-occupied Transnistria (see Holocaust in Romania).[24] The city was sporadically bombed by the Allies: on July 4, 1944, it was struck by a section of the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force (see Bombing of Romania in World War II).[25]

In the 1950s, when it served as capital of the newly created Regiunea Argeş, the city gained an ill notoriety, when the communist authorities used the local detention facility to subject political detainees to the infamous Reeducation, in which violence between inmates was encouraged to the point of being mandatory (see Piteşti prison). The experiment was carried out by the Securitate secret police and overseen by Alexandru Nicolschi; its goal was to psychologically destroy the capacity for outside attachment and outside loyalty, thus creating the brainwashed New Man meant to suit a Leninist society.[26] It was canceled after five years. At a trial held in 1953-1954, twenty-two inmate-participants were sentenced, with sixteen being condemned to death for their role in the experiment.[27] In 1957, a new trial convicted certain members of the prison staff, who received light sentences; they were later pardoned.[28]

In parallel, the city underwent numerous changes in landscape, including the completion of the A1 freeway, the first road of its kind, during the 1960s, and the acceleration of industrialization with a focus on the chemical and automotive industries. Around 1950, the Piteşti area accommodated Greek refugees who supported ELAS during the Civil War (part of the buildings raised for this purpose were later used to house resettled peasants).[17] Florica was nationalized in 1948, and was later partly devastated by Romanian Communist Party activists (for a while during the 1970s, it served as the residence of Communist politician Ion Dincă).[17] The bust of Ion Brătianu, standing in front of the Saint Nicholas Church, was removed and melted, and the church itself was demolished in 1962.[17]

Economy[edit]

Piteşti is one of the most industrialized cities in Romania. It is the center of the automotive industry in the country: the Automobile Dacia automaker is situated in the nearby town of Mioveni, and several other automobile parts manufacturers are located within its urban area (Dräxlmaier Group, Lear Corporation and Valeo). The city also houses the Arpechim oil refinery, part of the Petrom group. The plant, established as a state-owned company during the communist regime, has traditionally been the center of controversy over its air pollution records. In 2007, the Ministry of the Environment withdrew Arpechim's permit, but Petrom contested the decision in court.[29] The plant is scheduled to gradually reduce its activity over a period of several years, pending eventual closure.[29]

The city is surrounded by hills, being the center of an area rich in wineries and plum orchards. The latter give one of the finest Romanian ţuicas: ţuica de Piteşti. The Ştefăneşti winery, situated on the opposite bank of the Argeş River, is one of the best known in Romania.

Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1912 19,722 —    
1930 19,532 −1.0%
1948 29,007 +48.5%
1956 38,330 +32.1%
1966 60,113 +56.8%
1977 123,735 +105.8%
1992 179,337 +44.9%
2002 168,458 −6.1%
2011 155,383 −7.8%
Source: Census data

Culture[edit]

Church of Saint George

The city is home to a County Theater, named in honor of playwright Alexandru Davila. Its branches include a puppet theater (created in 1949), the Estrada section for open-air performances (1958), and a folklore section (1970).[30] The Theater's Studio 125 was established in May 1975 by director Liviu Ciulei.[30] A public library, named after intellectual figure Dinicu Golescu, was created in 1869 through a donation made by Paraschiva Stephu, a female member of the upper class; a large part of its volumes were donated by historian George Ionescu-Gion in 1904.[31]

The city houses two universities: the state-run University of Piteşti and the private Constantin Brâncoveanu University (founded 1991, with branches in Brăila and Râmnicu Vâlcea). There are 17 secondary education institutions, including two main high schools—the Ion Brătianu National College (founded 1866) and the Zinca Golescu National College. There are also 20 primary schools, 23 kindergartens and 10 nursery schools.[32]

Each year during springtime, Piteşti is host to a festival and fair known as Simfonia lalelelor (the "Tulip Symphony"). Tulips were introduced locally in 1972-1973, when around 3,000 bulbs brought from Arad and Oradea were planted in its central area, along with other flowers.[33] Piteşti consequently acquired a reputation as a tulip-growing area, and the flower-themed festival was first organized by the local authorities in 1978.[33]

Sport[edit]

The major football club in the city was FC Argeş Piteşti, which, until its dissolution in 2013, generally played in Liga I, and had the Nicolae Dobrin Stadium as its home ground.[34] In addition, the city was home to a Liga II football club, Internaţional Piteşti (located on Stadionul Ştrand), and has a school which doubles as a junior team, Sporting Piteşti.[35] Piteşti hosts two basketball teams, BCA Piteşti and BCMUS Piteşti, as well as a women's volleyball team, Argeş Volei Piteşti.

The city is home to an Olympic size swimming pool, the home ground for CSM Piteşti, and a public outdoor swimming pool in the Tudor Vladimirescu area. Nearby Bascov also has a public swimming place, on grounds adjacent to the Budeasa Dam. The national canoe racing also trains at the Budeasa Dam sports base, and the location is also used for recreational fishing. A tennis challenger tournament (Turneul challenger feminin Piteşti) takes place each year, on grounds in Bascov.

Gallery[edit]

Natives[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Piteşti is twinned with:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Romanian) Population as of 20 October 2011, INSSE; retrieved July 5, 2013
  2. ^ Monografia geografică, p.100, 191, 238, 239-241
  3. ^ Monografia geografică, p.239-240
  4. ^ Monografia geografică, p.191
  5. ^ a b (Romanian) Dan Batucă, Ghid metodologic pentru identificarea și desemnarea corpurilor de apă puternic modificate și artificiale, ARCADIS Euroconsult, Phare, 2005, at the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, p.64/105-65/105; retrieved July 19, 2007
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h (Romanian) "Istoria Orașului", at Muzee din regiunile României; retrieved July 17, 2007
  7. ^ Giurescu, p.33
  8. ^ (Romanian) Dragoș Măndescu, Castrul roman de la Albota - un monument ignorat la marginea Piteștilor, at the Pitești Cultural Center; retrieved July 17, 2007
  9. ^ a b Giurescu, p.47
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j (Romanian) Gerard Călin, Reședința domnească temporară de la Pitești, at the Pitești Cultural Center; retrieved July 17, 2007
  11. ^ Andrei Oțetea, The History of the Romanian People, Editura Științifică, 1970, p.446
  12. ^ (Romanian) "Armeni - Scurt istoric", at Divers; retrieved July 17, 2007
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h (Romanian) Mariu Păduraru, Orașul Pitești văzut de călători străini, at the Pitești Cultural Center; retrieved July 17, 2007
  14. ^ Alex Drace-Francis, The Making of Modern Romanian Culture: Literacy and the Development of National Identity, I. B. Tauris, London, 2006, p.50. ISBN 1-84511-066-8
  15. ^ Lou Taylor, Establishing Dress History, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2004, p.20. ISBN 0-7190-6639-5
  16. ^ William Harrison Ainsworth, "The Russians in Wallachia", in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist, Vol.91, 1851, p.33 D2
  17. ^ a b c d e (Romanian) Mircea Crăciun, Relicve din perioada dictaturii comuniste în județul Argeș, at the Memoria Digital Library; retrieved July 17, 2007
  18. ^ Șerban Cioculescu, Caragialiana, Editura Eminescu, Bucharest, 1974, p.202–203. OCLC 6890267
  19. ^ a b Giurescu, p.155
  20. ^ Earl A. Pope, "Protestantism in Romania", in Sabrina Petra Ramet (ed), Protestantism and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia: The Communist and Postcommunist Eras, Duke University Press, Durham, 1992, p.186. ISBN 0-8223-1241-7
  21. ^ Pamfil Şeicaru, La Roumanie dans la Grande guerre, Éditions Minard, Paris, 1968, p.332-334
  22. ^ (Romanian) Al. Săndulescu, "Mâncătorul de cărți", in România Literară, Nr. 11/2008
  23. ^ Nicolae Ciobanu, "Armand Călinescu: Jertfă pentru liniștea și independența țării. «Omul de oţel» împotriva Gărzii de Fier", in Dosarele Istoriei, 6/IV (1999), p.60
  24. ^ Dennis Deletant, Hitler's Forgotten Ally: Ion Antonescu and His Regime, Romania, 1940-1944, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2006, p.191. ISBN 1-4039-9341-6
  25. ^ Charles E. Francis, Adolph Caso, The Tuskegee Airmen: The Men Who Changed a Nation, Branden Books, Wellesley, 1997, p.149. ISBN 0-8283-2029-2
  26. ^ Cioroianu, p.317
  27. ^ Cioroianu, p.318
  28. ^ (Romanian) Teodor Wexler, "Procesul sioniştilor", in Memoria; retrieved July 17, 2007
  29. ^ a b (Romanian) "Arpechim reporneşte", in România Liberă, June 13, 2007
  30. ^ a b (Romanian) Teatrul Alexandru Davila at the Argeş County Council; retrieved July 17, 2007
  31. ^ (Romanian) Biblioteca Judeţeană at the Argeş County Council; retrieved July 17, 2007
  32. ^ General Schools, High Schools, Universities at Piteşti City Hall; retrieved November 21, 2008
  33. ^ a b (Romanian) "Istoria lalelelor", at the Simfonia lalelelor official site; retrieved March 8, 2008
  34. ^ (Romanian) Amir Kiarash, "FC Argeş, clubul care i-a lansat pe Dobrin, Mutu şi Dică, a intrat în insolvenţă. Povestea tristă a decăderii", in Adevărul, June 14, 2013; retrieved November 21, 2013
  35. ^ (Romanian) Sporting Piteşti (official site)
  36. ^ a b c d e (Romanian) Twin Cities. Collaboration Relations, at the Piteşti City Hall site; retrieved March 19, 2009
  37. ^ Twinning Agreement, at the Bydgoszcz City Hall site; retrieved December 27, 2010
  38. ^ (Serbian) Gradovi prijatelj, at the Kragujevac city official site; retrieved March 19, 2009
  39. ^ Sister Cities at the Muntinlupa city official site; retrieved March 19, 2009
  40. ^ Azerbaijan: Twin cities, at the azerbaijans.com site; retrieved August 9, 2013
  41. ^ (Azerbaijani) Sumgayit Executive Power. International Relations, at the Sumgait city official site; retrieved December 29, 2010

References[edit]

External links[edit]