Urbingo Centenar, an interactive artistic game that challenges you to discover the heritage of Alba Iulia

Tourists visiting the central city Alba Iulia and locals can discover and explore the city’s heritage in a novel way through an interactive artistic game called Urbingo Centenar, unfolding around the fundamental values of Romania’s December 1, 1918 Greater Union, that was launched on Saturday at the caponier of the of Alba Carolina Fortress.

Created by a Lithuanian organisation, Urbingo is an urban game and an alternative guide dedicated to historical neighbourhoods that invites people to explore and discover the unseen part of cities using a map and a package of playing cards. The game is designed for both groups and individuals, with no age restrictions.

“Everyone can play Urbingo Centenar, an urban game developed by a Lithuanian association; the purpose of the game is to discover a different city, to discover some details that you usually overlook. Many times when we stroll along, our eyes follow a certain line of sight, but this game forces you to look down or up to the roofs,” Carolina Creative Quarter member Ioana Mladin told AGERPRES.

So did Urban Centenar players on Saturday, from the youngest participants, classmates from an Alba Iulia primary school, to teens and adults who wanted to discover the city differently. They had a seven-card demo version, compared with the full version of 21 playing cards.

Eight fourth graders divided into four groups and equipped with a map and seven photo playing cards had one hour to discover the real-life details depicted in the photos. First to finish, Andrei and Larisa, had only one game card that they misplaced in space.

“We generally participate in all the activities that take us outdoors and help us develop our physical orientation, get to know our city better, and get to know each other better, working as a team. All these games are constructive for children and, why not, and for adults as well. It’s something exciting, discovering landmarks is a real adventure to,” said Viorica Rusu, the children’s teacher.

The game for three adolescents passing daily through the Alba Carolina Fortress on their way home to high school was not a tough one, as they finished the race in the shortest possible time, and their reward was the full version of Urbingo Centenar.

“It was not hard to us, but it is very interesting to visitors if they want to explore the city, to visit all these landmarks and also to play,” said Florin Drambarean, 16. His friend, Adrian Mermezan, concurred, saying this is a “very good” game for tourists.

“The idea is excellent, especially because there are many people who come to Alba Iulia only to visit the fortress. There are many landmarks outside the fortress worth visiting; there are some houses in a different style from the contemporary one. This is a game that stimulates you to go exploring in particular, because it is much more fun to do it this way than to just walk and to wonder when you see something. When you have a goal, you are always encouraged to be more careful about certain details,” said Ianis Misios, a 17-year-old.

The game was easy for Monica and Edina as well, two local girls, but they said, there were times when they had doubts about certain details. “We had to study them carefully, because we definitely wanted to win,” Monica said.

Specifically, each group gets a map and seven playing cards. The map covers the game area and contains background information and emblematic episodes. The playing cards are an archive of the historical area. The aim of the game is to find the place of the objects shown in the photo playing cards. The locations where the images have been identified are circled on the map, or pictures are taken of the respective details from the same angles as the original images.

“There are dotted places on the map that are explained on the backside. They are historic places that are relevant to the December 1, 1918 Greater Union Centennial. The white circles are places where some of the photos have been taken. The pictures show details some of which are small and some big, some easier to found and some harder, but they are all unique. The players have to start from the pre-set place and walk around, guided by the map, and look for the details, and then discover them. As they discover the details of the game, they also discover the city, obviously. They get a fresh perspective of it while discovering the installations we have set up, which are seven in all. Six of them are arts installations made of wood by a team from Cluj County, and one is a sculpture by Darius Hulea. All the installations are inspired by the 1918 Resolution, “explained Mladin.

The seven installations are interactive objects, financed and made under the project: namely two cubic pavilions, sitting benches, a dark room, and an equestrian sculpture of King Ferdinand I made of metal by sculptor Darius Hulea. There are two other installations besides the ones located in Alba Iulia, both in Bucharest City, inside the National Museum of Old Maps and Books and the National History Museum of Romania , highlighting the link between Romania’s actual capital city and the “other capital,” as Alba Iulia is also called.

Urbingo Centenar is a game developed under a project funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity , part of the Access Centenar 2017 programme, on a 50,000-euro grant, and another 12.5600-euro grant from the City Hall of Alba Iulia, according to Mladin. ‘The project has to be completed by November 30. We are very keen on playing in 2018 as well, and we want the full version to be available also for sale,” she said.

Under this project, the organisers have set to bring contemporary art in the streets as well as familiarise citizens with global trends in creative and cultural industries. The Alba Iulia version was created to celebrate Romania’s December 1, 1918 Greater Union Centennial, being the outcome of collaboration between the urban research laboratory and the Carolina Creative Quarter.

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