Freidorf

Freidorf (German for "free village"; Hungarian: Szabadfalu)[1] was one of the first German settlements in Temes County in the Banat, Kingdom of Hungary. In 1920, it became part of Romania; since 1950 it is a district of the city of Timișoara. Freidorf maintains historic architecture, old Banat Swabian (i.e. German) houses, and many green spaces.

Freidorf

Szabadfalu (Hungarian)
District of Timișoara
St. Roch Catholic Church in Freidorf
St. Roch Catholic Church in Freidorf
Coordinates: 45°43′42″N 21°10′52″E / 45.72833°N 21.18111°E / 45.72833; 21.18111Coordinates: 45°43′42″N 21°10′52″E / 45.72833°N 21.18111°E / 45.72833; 21.18111
CountryRomania
CountyTimiș
CityTimișoara
Established1723
Area
 • Total1.56 km2 (0.60 sq mi)

HistoryEdit

 
Freidorf in the Josephine Map of Banat, 1769-72

NameEdit

It[clarification needed] was recorded in 1369 as Szabadfalu and/or Zabadfalua, in 1415 and 1482 as Zabadfalu.[2] A new name first appears in 1808, Freydorf or Frajtok, mentioned in 1851 and 1888 as Freidorf (in German) and Szabadfalva (in Hungarian), in 1913 also as Szabadfalu.[2] The German-language Catholic parish of Freydorf is registered in 1880.[2]

German settlementEdit

The first inhabitants of the settlement came from the province of Alsace, from a village which was also called Freidorf. The current neighborhood was originally a German commune, founded in 1723 and exempt from taxes, which gave it the name Freidorf ("free village" in German). It had a Catholic church, a school, and a windmill. Initially it was a rather small village, built on the estate of General Wellis, commander of the Temeswar fortress, with about 500 inhabitants and little land. In the documents it appears to be mentioned in 1728 as Neudorf ("new village" in German). Starting with 1732, it was also populated by Italian silk craftsmen. The first record of the Bega Canal section at Freidorf dates back to 1796. The condition of the canal is described by the pontoon corporal, Franz Ulrichsberger, in a report of October 20, 1796, written in Temeswar following an inspection carried out by order of the Banat General Military Command: "From Temeswar to Freidorf you can navigate the canal with full load. From Freidorf to Deutschsanktmichael, the fully loaded vessels cannot pass, only if they will be partially unloaded, the cause of the slightly lower water level being that in several places the canal has up to 86 embankments."

 
House in Freidorf built in 1929
 
In this place was the house where the Olympic swimming champion, the actor Johnny Weissmuller, was born on July 2, 1904.

1848 RevolutionEdit

Freidorf also played an important role during the Hungarian Revolution (1848–1849). The city of Timisoara was besieged by Hungarian troops, but its military leadership remained loyal to the Austrian emperor. The leader of the Hungarian army, General Bem, set up camp in Freidorf. He settled in the parish house, while his aides stayed in other houses in the village. Among them was Hungarian national poet, Sándor Petőfi, who was promoted to major in the military camp between Timișoara and Freidorf. In 1889, a monument dedicated to Sándor Petőfi was unveiled. The park that exists today bears his name, and every year, on March 15, hundreds of Hungarians gather to lay wreaths at the monument.

Demographic evolutionEdit

In 1836, the population was decimated by a cholera epidemic, and starting with 1850, Hungarian and Romanian families began to move into the village. They mainly focused on growing vegetable, raising animals and producing bricks, all production being destined for the expanding nearby city.

20th centuryEdit

In 1904, Johnny Weissmuller was born in this neighborhood - a Banat Swabian by birth, the first actor to play Tarzan, and a top swimmer and Olympic medalist for the USA.

In 1967, the largest industrial producer of pork in Romania, Comtim, was built in Freidorf. The factory was closed down after 1990.

In 1998, an association of emigrants, all former inhabitants of Freidorf, contributed to the construction of a monument in the Freidorf Cemetery, in memory of the Germans (Swabians) who fell on the battlefield in the First World War. It was consecrated on October 3.

21st centuryEdit

On January 28, 2004, the Freidorf Neighborhood Advisory Council was established, the second one of Timișoara and of Romania as a whole, the first being the Council of Ciarda Roșie, another Timișoara neighborhood. In the summer of the same year, a memorial plaque was inaugurated in Freidorf, located on an old house, because the actual building where Johnny Weissmuller was born had been demolished in the 1980s.

Also in 2004, the international consortium Smithfield Foods bought what was left of the old Comtim. On April 2, 2009, after twenty years, the new Comtim opened its gates, as did its first presentation store, also in Freidorf.

TransportEdit

Rail transportEdit

Rail transport is over a century old in Freidorf. Timișoara–Modoș railway line was inaugurated on 31 July 1897. At that time, it was very important because it connected Timișoara and Zrenjanin, the largest city in Serbian Banat. The first station that Freidorf had (the one put into use in 1897, in the same year as the railway), and which still exists today, is located 340 m southwest of the new station and was built during the 1970s. Currently, the railway that passes through Freidorf is the Timișoara–Cruceni railway (CFR Line 926).

Over time, the station has had several names, depending on the political-historical context. Thus, at the time of the inauguration of the line, the station was called Szabadfalu (this being the official name of the locality at that time). In the interwar period, the station in Freidorf was called Sâmbăta Station, as appears in the Romanian Railways Maps of 1921 and 1938. After World War II, it was known as Freidorf; this name was later changed to the current form – Timișoara West.

ShippingEdit

Naval transport, although currently very poorly developed, is still practiced on the Bega Canal. In the past, heavy beet barges came to the canal for the Banat Sugar Factory. The peasants were also brought from the villages on the Bega by various ships to trade the fruits and vegetables in Timișoara. Currently, the works that were started at the Bega Canal, aim to reopen the navigation.

Road transportEdit

 
Trams on line 3 in 2006

The car transport is very developed, Freidorf being crossed by the county road 526 that connects the Timișoara with Utvin and Sânmihaiu Român, then continuing to the border with Serbia.

In the past, public transport was provided by tram line 3, which was dismantled in November 2009. Today, Freidorf has the E7 and E7b bus lines.

Freidorf Industrial ParkEdit

Freidorf Industrial Park was established in 1999 by a decision of the Local Council. Developed on a total area of 63 ha,[3] the park has attracted over the years companies such as ContiTech, Kromberg & Schubert, ELBA, Smithfield Foods, etc.

Notable peopleEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Freidorf". Erdély, Bánság és Partium történeti és közigazgatási helységnévtára. Arcanum.
  2. ^ a b c "Szabadfalu". Archived from the original on 2016-04-11. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  3. ^ "Starea economică, socială și de mediu a municipiului Timișoara" (PDF). Primăria municipiului Timișoara. 2019. pp. 86–87.