An ancient Dacian settlement

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An ancient Dacian settlement

  The location of the Galatians at the crossroads of two major international roads, linking the Northern world with the Southern Byzantine world, but also the Western Europe of Eastern Tartarus, favored the rural settlement in the 13th Century. The modest activity of that time will be amplified in the next Century, making the transition to the fair (city). Process that takes proportions after the Turks conquered the Danube fortresses Chilia and Cetatea Alba, around July August 1484, the Galatians remaining the only port in Moldavia with an important role in the internal trade, but also in the Polish Turkish one, in which Romanian and Italian merchants mixed, more numerous after the middle of the XVI Century.

Note: The image represents the map of Moldavia ,mentioning the Galatians, drawn up in the second half of the 16th Century, by a Pole and printed in Cologne (Koln) in 1595.

Galați, the most important city in Moldova following Iași.

Foreign travelers passing through Galati in the 17th Century were impressed by the variety of their food and their especially cheap prices. "I found a lot of good food at a very cheap price," notes Italian merchant Tommaso Alberti, while a French traveler notes in 1676 that "following Iași, Galați is the most important city in Moldavia."

  Ships arrived in the port from all places, a Catholic missionary wrote on Dec. 16. 1680, loading products for Constantinoples and other major centers of the Ottoman Empire.

  Potash and plant ashes, bought by the Dutch to dye the cloth, were sold to other countries. Goods brought from the Orient were sold through Moldovan fairs, but also in Bucharest or Transylvania.

Galati, the great market of the two Principalities


  The destruction, as it happened, quickly dissipated, some foreign travellers even ignoring it. A Catholic missionary from Poland noticed, in 1748, the large number of ships coming from Constantinople 'in this famous port'. A Russian letter from 1770, in the midst of the Russian-Turkish war, states that the Galatians fair is 'famous for trade'.

  The Consul of England in Bucharest writes, after the Russian-Turkish war of 1806-1812, that 'Galati is the great market for the products of the two Principalities and the place where the main imported articles are unloaded'. During the quiet periods, several factories also operated.

  In 1786 there was a 'salted meat factory', where 10,000 oxen were slaughtered, in 1811 there was a 'pasta factory', while in the shipyards, located closely to where they are even today, vessels with three masts for the Turks were built, about 10-12 per year.

  The foreigner who roams its streets quickly gains the good impression that the city and the port are of true European value, making the great powers, Austria, Russia, France, Prussia, England, manifest their presence in the Danube navigation since the end of the XVIII century, especially in Galati.

 Austria will be the first power to deal, in 1775, with the Ottoman Porte, for 'a useful trade on the Danube', organizing shipping companies, establishing warehouses of goods in the Galati fair, which, in 1806, the Austrian consul described it as 'important port and warehouse '.

  Russia will not compete with Austrian navigation, but will establish, in 1775, the first local consulate, France and England succeeding in creating vice-consulates around 1805. A German traveler appreciated, in 1829, that the port of Galati would dispute its primacy with the ports from the Black Sea, Odessa making no exception.

  The influx of ships moored here increased, from 54 in 1831, to 97 in 1843, adding the three Austrian steamships, which began to run regularly since 1834.


Note: 1. Galati Fair. A French traveler wrote in 1676 that, after Iasi, Galati was the most important city in Moldavia. GERMAN PRINT FROM THE KUNIKE ALBUM - THE COLLECTION WILL LISTEN TO YOU.

2. Galatians Fair. The English consul in Bucharest will write, after the Russian-Turkish war in 1806-1812, that Galati is the great market for the products of the two Principalities. GERMAN PRINT FROM THE KUNIKE ALBUM - THE V.A. URECHIA COLLECTION


A big city where you could get lost


  Cuza's reign brought a number of improvements to the city from the beginning, in order to become a 'large trade market and the principal seaport of the Principalities', the number of foreign ships that docked in Galati, increasing in the next two years from 911 to 1147. New primary schools were also established and, on October 26th, 1864, the 'Alexandru Ioan I' Higher School of Commerce was opened. The guests found that Galati was now a big city where you could get lost. The long and laborious reign of King Carol I, started on May 10, 1866, continued after his death, in 1914, by that of his nephew, Ferdinand the Unifier, ensured from the beginning, in Galati, both the development of the institutions created by Cuza and the appearance of new ones, required by the expansion of industry and commerce. Of the few factories existing in 1870, the number increased to 41 in 1908, further supported by the National Industry Encouragement Act in 1912.

  The commercial activity continued also due to the massive export of grains, on the position the port of Galati had, concerning the export of the country, the French consul in the city writing on April 8th, 1870 that ’the port of Galati became the main entrepreneur for the grains Moldova shipped on the Danube and the Black Sea, to England, France and Italy'. It was acknowledged that the development of the city was due to the free port regime, but the protests of the Galati inhabitants, supported by Kogalniceanu, generated by its suppression on December 22nd, 1882, remained without favorable outcomes.

  However, in the period 1900-1914, the 'Pearl of Moldavia' or the 'Lower Danube Gate', as the Galati was called, still carried out a 'considerable trade' in cereals and timber, involving the representatives of the 16 foreign consulates in the city. In turn, the Romanian state supported the commercial activity of Galati, making, through the Municipality, large investments for the modernization of the port.

  Engineer Anghel Saligny prepares, in 1908, the project for a new basin, finished in 1914, the old one becoming too small for the incoming ships, and important credits were granted for the construction of the railway network in the port and of the freight station.


Note: 1. The Port Street. On the left, the Galati Stock Exchange building, inaugurated in 1881 on the place where, currently, the new headquarters of AFDJ was built. POSTCARD ANTON PAPPADOPOL, GALATI - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION

2. The old docks basin was also built under the leadership of engineer Anghel Saligny between 1887-1891. POSTCARD ANTON PAPPADOPOL, GALATI - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION.


Intellectual elite


 Since the end of the 19th century, the city of Galati has had an intellectual elite, professors, lawyers, doctors, engineers, educated abroad, an elite growing , impressively, in the following decades and which contributed, through various initiatives, to the establishment and support of the activity of some cultural institutions, organizers of some prestigious actions, appreciated by the entire Romanian colectivity. An impulse of this elite is the one that generated, in 1907, the appearance of the 'Cultural Circle' meant 'to develop the taste for art and science'. Among its members was, in 1909, the 'Organizing Committee for the erection of the poet Mihai Eminescu's monument, made by Frederic Storck and unveiled in the Municipal Park on October 16. 1911.

  The activity was continued post war by the 'Intim-club', considered by contemporaries a 'solemn Academy' chaired by the distinguished surgeon Al. Carnabel. Along with various local personalities, Elena Vacarescu, Duiliu Zamfirescu, A.D. Xenopol spoke here. in 1905 the writer Jean Bart ran a 'Literary Club' in Galati, and in 1922, together with professor H. Sanielevici, he edited the magazine 'Curentul nou'.

Note: 1. Nae Leonard, nicknamed the prince of operetta, in The Charm of a Waltz. Born in Galati on December 13th, 1886, he will play in the first show, presented in his hometown by the Grigoriu Company of which he was part, in oct. 1907. POSTCARD MAIER & STERN, BUCHAREST - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION 2. The place of the first location of the monument in the Municipal Park (today Eminescu Park) in the specific ambiance of the time. POSTCARD - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION


World War II


  The outbreak of World War II caused Galati city to experience moments of concern from its very beginning, when the Soviets destroyed much of the 11th Siret Galati Infantry Regiment, but especially towards the end, when the Anglo-Americans destroyed, with the raid of June 6th, 1944, part of the military airport, the Sfănta Vineri Church and the houses on the planes’ trajectory.

  However, the greatest disaster was caused by the German aviation on the night of August 24th, the troops hastily leaving the city, destroying the next day, by mining, the Portului and Domneasca streets, up to G-ral Lahovari street.

The Germans also bombed the Notre Dame de Sion Pension, today the Faculty of Mechanics.

  This was followed by the coming of the Soviet troops, their occupation and the establishment of the totalitarian communist regime, bringing the well-known restrictive measures that leveled culture and people, authentic local personalities, of great intellectual value being forced to leave Galati or take refuge in anonimity.

Note: 1. The lost city. The Royal Square, is located on the site of the current underground passage, seen in the direction of the former Splendid Hotel. POSTCARD BY DAVID STERN, BUCHAREST COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION.

2. The lost city. Domneasca Street, on the side of the current Galati Hotel, towards the Modern store, seen from the balcony of the former Imperial Hotel. POSTCARD HOROVITZ, BUCHAREST - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION.


Reconstruction of the city


  The reconstruction of the city, both economically and urbanly, was carried out first with great difficulty and for a long time. Romania had to pay a huge war debt, imposed by the Soviets, massively exporting raw materials across the Prut.

  To increase the pace of these shipments, for which they did not pay, the Soviets imposed the extension of their railway, with a wide gauge, up to Galati station, where the Wide station was in direct connection with our railway network. Also in this area, a pipeline was arranged overnight for taking over the Romanian oil products, in the same pilfering conditions.

  The internal market and the commercial activity of the city were dramatically reduced caused by the difficult conditions in which the railway traffic operated but also due to the departure of the foreign merchants, as well as of the Romanian ones, threatened by communization.

Note: The new urban constructions have a marked military expression, discordant with the architectural style of the old buildings. POSTCARD - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION.


Revitalizing the industry


  The revitalization of the Galati industry will take place in the new conditions going through different stages. The dominant metallurgical profile will be imposed with the initiation of the construction of a giant steel plant, on July 17, 1962, the shipyard remaining, despite the world-class construction technique, in the background.

  Over time, the proper reconstruction of the city was intensified, first in the central area destroyed by the German armies, then to the periphery, under acute demographic pressure of rural migration to the city, due to forced industrialization.

  The urban constructions suddenly acquired a very alert rhythm, imposing a military expression, totally discordant with the architectural style of the old buildings. POSTCARD - COSTEL V. GHEORGHIU COLLECTION

Educational institutions


  A particular, positive development was acquired by the pre-university and university education institutions, each of the three Colleges, V. Alecsandri, M. Kogalniceanu, Al. I. Cuza and Dimitrie Cuclin High School of Art, presenting every year, at competitions, students who prevailed in the forefront of performances.