18th-century water lock displayed in Timisoara city’s first open-air museum

The newest museum in western Romania and the first outdoor display facility in Timisoara city is a Habsburg water lock dating from the 18th century, which has been on display for several days now, a historic site discovered four years ago during construction works on an office complex in Timisoara’s “700 Square.”

“In 2011 we found the first vestiges and tried to retrieve them, then in 2013 we hit on the water lock, which represented ‘the crowning’ of our efforts, a construction that is unique in the history of Timisoara,” archaeologist with the Banat Museum of History Alexandru Szentmiklosi told Agerpres  on Tuesday.

The perfectly preserved lock is unique in Europe. The solution to display it for the public to view was to unearth it and exhibit it in what became an open-air museum in the city center.

Businessman Ovidiu Sandor, who owns the land plot and is also the manager of the water lock showcasing project, demanded that the centuries-old water engineering structure become an outdoor free-access museum; Sandor also bears the more than half a million euro costs of the investment required by the construction site.

“One of the most complex operations was the dismantling and the reconstitution of the water lock that is made of over 150,000 individual elements. It’s a huge puzzle that was disassembled and then built back, and the rescue operation was equally complex and spectacular. The lock can be admired in its entire glory, a in a veritable outdoor exhibition space, enhanced with scientific documentation provided by the experts of the Banat Museum of History. We’ll add a small, but interesting attraction to the map of Timisoara, returning to the city a piece of its history which would otherwise have remained buried and unknown,” said project manager Ovidiu Sandor.

A walkway was built above the water lock, for the visitors to admire the panoramic image of the water engineering ensemble made of brick, stone and paved with wood slabs, which was a system intended to regulate water levels in the old fortress’ defence moat. Excavations at the foundation of an office building in the “700 Square” brought to light the bottom of the fortifications and of the lock that regulated the water flow of the Bega Canal.


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