PLOIESTI – THE CITY OF “BLACK GOLD”
Situated in the south – eastern Romania, having a population of over 250,000 inhabitants, Ploiesti is one of Romania’s most important cities, on the second place after Bucharest as for the industrial production.
At a 60 km distance from Bucharest, crossed by the 26° meridian and the 44° 55’ parallel, Ploiesti is the petroleum industrial citadel.
Ploiesti is also known for the production and exportation of the petrochemical, chemical and petroleum equipment, heavy – duty bearings, cables, detergents, cloths, furniture, as well for the civil and industrial engineering made abroad.
The economic potential of the city is remarkable, due to the tradition and professionalism of the designing companies (PETROSTAR, RAYTHEON ENGINEERS & CONSTRUCTORS, IPIP, COMPROIECT 92, MAAD INTERNATIONAL, in the domain of the chemical and petrochemical equipment, IPCUP S.A. in the domain of drilling and exploitation equipment, ICERP in the domain of petrochemical products, CONSPROIECT in the civil and industrial engineering) due to the activity of some important companies, beginning with the four refineries (PETROTEL – LUK OIL S.A, ASTRA ROMÂNA, VEGA and S.N.P. PETROM PETROBRAZI), and continuing by the distribution firms for petroleum products (S.N.P. PETROM PECO PRAHOVA, SHELL, MOL ROMANIA), by those in the chemical and petroleum equipment branch (UPETROM 1 MAI, UZUC, UZTEL, 24 IANUARIE, FLINTAB ROMANIA), by the heavy – duty bearings plant that has just been bought by the American company TIMKEN (TIMKEN ROMANIA), by the steel cables plant CABLUL ROMÂNESC, by the pipeline oil transport CONPET, by the polyethylene products plant POLITEH, by the detergents plant DERO LEVER, by the cloths factory DOROBANTUL, by the ready – made clothes factory MODEXIM, by the furniture plant ANTECO, by the food and drink plants SOCIETATEA DE IMBUTELIAT COCA – COLA, PROLA, EFES PILSNER, EXTRAPAN, DI APOLLO INDUSTRIA CARNII, the tobacco industry – BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO, in the printing industry - MAYR MELNHOF PACKAGING ROMANIA, in constructions (CIPROM, INSPET, UMO, CONTRASIMEX, ASCM., CONSTIL). nj478h9297tjjf
The private initiative led to the creation of some important firms in the construction sector (ROOL CONSTRUCT, NOVA – CONS), in the computer manufacturing (SPRINT COMPUTERS, PLATIN SYSTEMS)
As any settlement, Ploiesti has always had a leader of its own. First, there were a magistrate and town councillors, afterwards a chairman and an executive committee and finally a mayor and a town council. All of them did their best to solve the town’s problems concerning the aspect, the constructions and the public utilities, the salubrity and to contribute to the local economical development, social protection, culture, education and local patrimony.
At first, the municipality did not have premises of its own, renting various buildings. Later on they afforded to get two buildings constructed. The first one (“THE OLD TOWN HALL”), which used to be situated on the present – day “Prahova” Hotel, housed the Town Hall between 1868 – 1894. It was demolished after 1940.
Between 1894 – 1972 the Town Hall was to be found in the “New Town Hall“. The edifice, designed to become a museum of the city after 1972, had to be demolished after the 1977 earthquake. Since 1972, the Town Hall has carried out its activity in the building of the Administrative Palace. Besides this building, the public services carry out their activity in other premises as a result of the development and diversification of the activity: inside the Central Market – which has been administrated by the municipality since 1997 – the Patrimony Board and the Fiscal Board carry out activity; the former house of the mayor Radu Stanian which has became the Weddings House, houses the Registry Office.
A New Borough at the Feet of The Mountains
Another legend speaks about Michael the Brave (1593 – 1601) who, willing to settle a new borough, asked the chief magistrate of the village of Ploiesti to sell him that land. The chief magistrate refused the money offered by the Prince for that land because he said that villagers who lived there were freeholders and if they had sold their land they would have became serfs.
The legend is only partly true. In fact, the Prince bought the land from two country squires and gave it to the inhabitants of Ploiesti to keep into possession. Michael the Brave also got that land colonized by brave soldiers. He set up there a weekly fair, which used to attract people and goods from far away. Thus, the small borough developed in a short time, being ruled by a magistrate and 12 town councillors, elected by the townsmen.
Ploiesti was also a headquarters for Michael the Brave’s army, as he prepared his glorious military campaign to Transylvania, first step to a unification of the Romanian provinces. His military campaign started at Ploiesti on October 4, 1599 and ended in triumph at Alba – Iulia on November 1.
For all those reasons we can say that Michael the Brave was not only the founder of the city, but also a huge personality who decided upon the city’s future. In their turn, the inhabitants of Ploiesti have remained eternally grateful to him.
The Statue of Liberty
Is the oldest monument of the city, a homage paid by its inhabitants to democracy thy fought for. The news about the Radical – Liberals’ victory in the local election in Ploiesti in March 1869 against the Government’s interferences concerning the constitutional rights was quickly spread in the whole country. It was followed and amplified by the news of the antidynastic movement in the same city in August 1870. In that respect, Dimitrie Bratianu, together with C. A. Rossetti – two Romanian political personalities of the time -, proposed that the city of Ploiesti should be rewarded with a monument, opening a subscription list for possible supporters through the newspaper “ The Romanian “.
The initiators of the project sought abroad and eventually found in France a well – suited statue, both by theme (the Goddess Minerva wearing the Phrygian cap of liberty), size (3.5 m), artistical value and technical execution (it was cast at L. Oudry & C – i.e. in Paris). The statue was bought and brought in the country in 1876, but it was not immediately put in place because of the war. The architect Toma N. Socolescu, who had also designed the plinth, got the statue assembled in Liberty Square on September 1st, 1879.
The inauguration took place only on June 21st, 1881. Later on, the statue was to be reassembled in front of the Town Hall, and when the air raids during the World War I came to an end; the statue was moved again, being placed on the actual site, in front of the Administrative Palace (the new premises of the Town Hall). A century later, the statue has continued to be a symbol of liberty and democracy for the inhabitants of Ploiesti. Thus, during the painful days of theRevolution of 1989, people gathered round the statue and every year after has commemorated their heroes there.
The Soldier’s Memorial
Was also moved from the initial site where it had been unveiled on October 12th, 1897(in a square on the main boulevard nearby the center of the city) to another square close by the Southern Railway Station (1954) and finally in a traffic circle not far from the previous site (1980).
The monument conjures up the Grivita Attack (August 30, 1877), the first victory of the young Romanian army, to which the second Battalion soldiers of Ploiesti led by Alexandru Candiano – Popescu contributed decisively.
After the war, a group of ex – servicemen joined by a few young enthusiastic people (stimulated by Nicolae Prusanu) initiated the erection of a Memorial to honour the heroes of the Grivita Attack. Within 7 years the initiators of the project gathered funds from over 20,000 people all over the country and gave the project into the charge of the sculptor George Vasilescu.
The monument has two distinct parts: a stone part, a granite obelisk above an almost cubic plinth over – topping a stepping platform and a bronze part, both of them being made in Italy. The sculptures represent an eagle wearing a flag into its beak (on the top of the monument), a symbolic inlaid work, two allegoric high relief’s on a plinth and the statues of four soldiers (made after real models) in various positions and having their own personality.
Honour their Memory
The inhabitants of Ploiesti sacrificed their lives in the battles of World War I or behind the front. Gratitude towards those heroes took shape in a 60 m high spire, attached to the ample portal of “St. John’s” Cathedral.
An initiators committee gathered funds and gave the project into the charge of the great Romanian architect Toma T. Socolescu. It is a solid narthex from which another two smaller lateral spires rise, beside the 60 m high spire.
The facade of the cathedral is embellished by the horizontal alternance of stones and bricks and adorned with finely sculptured ornaments. The high narrow windows complete the harmony of the facade.
The foundation stone was laid on November18th, 1923, and the building works lasted up to 1937. The construction materials were brought from all the areas where the soldiers of the country lost their lives: stone blocks from Oituz, brick from Marasesti, gravel for concrete from Doaga, Valea Susitei etc.
The heroes are also paid homage in a graveyard near the “Bolovani” cemetery. The architect Toma T. Socolescu achieved a monumental portal on the separating side from which the main path of the graveyard starts. Looking under the portal, one can see the obelisk rising up in order to immortalize the heroes’ memory.
The National Oil Museum
In 1857 three international events took place in Romania:
Romania, the first country with an output of 275t officially registered in international statistics;
The first refinery in the world built in Ploiesti by the Mehedinteanu brothers;
Bucharest, the first town in the world having public lightning with kerosene.
In 1957, in Romania was celebrated one century of Romanian oil industry, and that was the moment when the foundation of the National Oil Museum was decided.
The main activity of the museum consists of illustrating the history of Romanian oil industry and the science and technique of petroleum. There is also mentioned the contribution of this industrial branch to the economic and social progress of the country.
The subject matters of the museum consist of:
History of exploitation and petroleum utilization, laws and rules, social and political events related to;
The beginning and evolution of geological investigations;
Evolution of techniques and tools for drilling, exploitation and processing.
Based on these aspects the main exhibition was put in place and the museum was inaugurated on October 8th, 1961.
The main exhibition displays in a modern arrangement its patrimony in a big hall having more than 500 m². Original documents, geological maps, technological documentation, photos and functional small – size copies are some of the most important exhibits.
The second exhibition consists of a park of tools in the open air nearby different equipment used in the oil industry over 80 years ago.
The third showroom is a hall presenting tools, small size equipment and apparatus used principally in extractive industry.
The museum has also got a storehouse of original documents, photos and videocassettes. The library consists of more than 3,000 volumes, an important collection of ancient books about oil technique and science. We notice there “Moniteur du Petrole Roumain”, a very important bilingual publication (Romanian and French) issued in the period 1900 – 1948.
Among the most valuable exhibits, the museum has got a collection of oil lamps, original documents and documentation concerning great scientists of the oil industry. We mention some of them:
Gregoriu Stefanescu, Grigore Cobalcescu, Ludovic Mrazec, Valeriu Patriciu, from the geology department;
Ion Tanasescu, Virgiliu Tacit, Ion Basgan, Andrei Dragulanescu, from the drilling and exploitation department;
Lazar Edeleanu, Nicolae Debie, from the chemistry department;
The National Oil Museum is due to enrich its collections by acquisitions, donations and to leave this national patrimony to the future generations.
Throughout its existence the museum had over 1 million visitors: students, foreign delegations, politicians, etc.
The History and Archaeology Museum
This institution started up its activity in a different building on 25, N. Balcescu Street on 1 May 1953. That used to be a superb house; the Great Tzar Nicholas was lodged in 1877, having a different utilization today, as library, restoration studio, depository, etc.
The present – day edifice housing the “History and Archaeology” Museum, formerly called the “Old Secondary School”, conceived by the architect Alexandru Orascu and raised between 1865 – 1866, is a large building, with white facades whose forms cast subtle shadows and lights.
After 1968, as a result of prof. N. I. Simache’s efforts, the building was assigned to the museum. The edifice has been repaired and restored several times, the latest being a radical restoration (1992 – 1997), giving back the whole authenticity to the exterior and the “aspect of palace” to the interior. In this excellent expositional space, there have been organized, pursuing the most efficient museological techniques, the numismatic and archaeology halls entitled “Michael the Brave”, “1848”, “I. A. Bassarabescu” as well as many other rooms containing other exhibitions.
The aesthetical and scientific value of the establishment has increased considerably due to the arrangement of its precincts and especially to the very inspired “Lapidarius” from the back yard.
The “N. Simache” Museum of the Clock
This is another example where a remarkable building has housed an exceptional museum, unique in the country and among the very few throughout the world. The “Luca Elefterescu” House had been built for the former MP and prefect Luca Elefterescu in 1885 – 1895, being afterwards bought by the English oil magnate Masterson.
The house, built in Austrian neo – Gothic style, conceived for the corner of the street, calls the viewer’s attention to the extremely various relief of the facades, the dynamics of the adornments, the sumptuousness of the interiors.
The institution came into being due to the professor N. Simache’s efforts as a permanent exhibition, housed by one of the exposition halls of the Palace of Culture (1963). The professor’s concerning to enrich the collections and to obtain the necessary premises turned into a real obsession. In 1971 he finally succeeded in getting premises and engaged in the project of the organization of a museum that opened only a little time before his death.
This museum bears his name to honour his memory. The museum exhibits only a part of its very rich collections of more than 1000 pieces designed and made by well – known craftsmen from all over Europe in a very modern conception. The “Clock” Museum offers to the visitors’ real pieces of art, masterpieces of creativity and originality, which confers to the city a strong personality.
The Art Museum
The beauty of the landscape harmonizes to that of the architecture and works of art housed in the museum.
The construction having the appearance of a palace was built at the same time with the boulevard, for Ghita Ionescu, a businessman and the mayor of Ploiesti, on the architect I. Negrescu’s projects. It is a classic edifice with sumptuous interiors and white vast facades. One could say that the symmetry and sobriety of the adornments or the simple rectangular windows create monotony, but not in this case. Aristocratic dwelling up to 1910, when it was sold, became the most elegant Prefecture of the country. In 1968 the building was assigned to the Art Museum of Prahova County, an institution that had been founded as a municipal picture gallery that had continuously enriched its patrimony and had been looking for proper premises for more than three decades. The inhabitants of Ploiesti have one of the best art museums in the country, which cannot be estimated in numbers. If we mentioned all the sculptors, the painters, the drawers and their work, which are to be found here, we would write the whole history of the Romanian art. This institution is more than a simple museum: foreign art exhibitions and artistical soirees are organized here; valuable work is published under the aegis of this institution.
The Palace of Culture
Majestic neo – Classic building, embodying solidity and permanence, the nowadays Palace of Culture began to be built before the World War I, on the projects of the architect E. Doneaud, and was inaugurated only in 1933, on November 26, in the presence of King Carol the 2nd. Until 1951 the Prahova Law Court carried on its activity in this building. In 1951 its destination was changed into Palace of Culture (in the latest years, the eastern wing has been given back to the Appeal Court).
The huge “Column Hall” offers an excellent space for exhibitions (one of the best in the country) and the conference halls of the Palace have housed local and national prestigious cultural events.
Some important institutions are accommodated in there: the Museum of Ethnography of Prahova County, the Museum of Human Biology (developing extremely various themes, thus making up a vivid in sharp relief encyclopedia), and the School of Arts and Crafts (being founded over 50 years ago), with hundreds of students and thousands of former students.
Nevertheless, the most impressive of all the institutions housed in the Palace is the “Nicolae Iorga” County Library, older than three quarters of a century, created due to the initiative of few intellectuals and enriched by permanent donations and acquisitions.
Having a book stock of more than half a million titles among which some being very rare on an on – line catalogue, a hard – working professional staff and thousands of readers, this library has also published valuable books and brochures and regularly publishes the “Magazine of Books”.
Since the Middle Ages Ploiesti has been a trade center, more precisely since 1597, when Michael the Brave founded it as a borough. In the 19th century there were few merchants (arrived from Transylvania and Bulgaria and settled there) who carried on trade with the cities of Brasov and Leipzig until the city engaged into business also with other cities. There were certain companies that carried on their activity for generations, such as the blacksmith workshops: “Munteanu”, “Chitu and Iosifescu”, “Motoiu”, whose employers, most of them being university graduates, were also wholesalers, providing the whole county and not only with various goods.
The trade field has improved in time: for instance, the cattle market moved to the “Bucov” Turnpike in 1911, the Central Market emblematical building conceived by the architect Toma T. Socolescu was opened in 1935 and the first general store “Papagalul” was inaugurated in 1938.
After 1948, the trade field began to regress in Ploiesti, and crossed a difficult period. Nevertheless new supermarkets have taken shape having a decorative as well as a functional architecture: “Big”, “Nord”, “Omnia”, “Mercur”, “Unirea”, “Lumea Copiilor”, not to mention the “Ploiesti” Commercial Galleries.
At present, trade has developed also in smaller or bigger companies in the private sector, keeping the up–to–date standards.
Ploiesti has also been an important business center under the leading of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, having even a local Stock Exchange for a while.
The banks from Bucharest opened branches in Ploiesti in short time, joining the existing ones, such as: “Central Bank” (Max Schapira), “Prahova”, “Kogalniceanu”, the “Romanian General” Bank, which used to finance the petroleum industry.
Today, banks have revived in Ploiesti, some of them have found their formerly premises, others have created modern impressive buildings. Among those banks we must mention: the National Bank, the Romanian Commercial Bank, the Romanian Bank of Development, Bank Post, the “Transylvania” Bank, the Agricultural Bank, the Commercial and Industrial Credit Bank, the “Ion Tiriac” Commercial Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, City Bank, Romextra Bank, Ing. Barings Bank.
The Education in Ploiesti
There are known just a few things about the beginnings of education in Ploiesti. The first institution of education we have knowledge about was certified in 1777: it was a “princely school”. In 1832 we have testimonies about the first elementary public school in Ploiesti. In 1864 we find out about the beginnings of the secondary schools, and thus Ploiesti becomes an important educational center.
Most of our educational institutions, although they had to pass through many changes (they changed names, structure, premises), succeeded in creating a brilliant tradition. Most of the local tutors were excellently well-trained people, passionate for their work, who brought up many generations of capable hard-working citizens of Ploiesti.
At present, the education in Ploiesti is strongly represented by the two National Colleges “I.L. Caragiale” (the former “Sf. Petru si Pavel” High School) and “Mihai Viteazul” (the former “Despina Doamna” High School), by 32 primary schools and other 16 high schools, where over 60,000 students are learning under the guidance of over 3,000 teachers. The most important high schools are: “Al. Ioan Cuza” High School, “Nichita Stanescu” High School, The Art and Music High School, The Military High School “Constantin Brancoveanu”, The Engineering Secondary School, UPETROM Secondary School, Petroleum Secondary School, the Industrial Secondary School, the Energetic Secondary School, the Construction Secondary School, the Economic Secondary School, the Sanitary Secondary School.
The University of Ploiesti
The educational institutions of the highest level have been recently set up in Ploiesti. In 1948, the “Petroleum and Gas Institute” was founded in Bucharest and had a rapid development. Everybody agreed that its place is in Ploiesti, so, on September 15th, 1976 the “Faculty of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering” moved in there. In 1972, the “Faculty of Well Drilling and Petroleum Reservoir Engineering was also moved. In 1973, the last faculty of the Institute was moved from Bucharest: the “Faculty of Petroleum Technology and Petrochemistry”. The “Petroleum and Gas Institute” of Ploiesti has remained thus the only one of the country having this structure. There was created a vast, modern, open and functional campus, the sacrifice made by the inhabitants being as great as their aspirations. In 1992, when another faculty joined the previous ones: the “Faculty of Literature and Sciences”, the Institute became a university (the “Petroleum and Gas University). We wouldn’t like to seem overenthusiastic in regard to this 50 years old “alma matter” of Ploiesti. In that respect we would like to let the statistics speak: 21,000 graduates (dipl. Engineers and engineers), has awarded over 325 Doctor’s Degrees and has trained almost 2,000 specialists within the postgraduate courses. Almost 2,000 foreign citizens, of 85 countries in the world, have attended various forms of education: graduate and postgraduate courses (doctor’s degree, special training, UNESCO courses). Over 800 books destined to the educational process, over 1,500 scientific articles published in specialty magazines in the country or abroad, over 350 registered letters patents.
At present the “Petroleum and Gas” University of Ploiesti has over 3,600 students attending its courses and teaching staff (4 consulting professors, 42 professors, 46 associate professors, 131 assistant professors (lecturers), 38 teaching assistants and 13 tutors.
Theatre and Music
The Municipal Theatre “Toma Caragiu” celebrated, a little time ago, its fifty years of existence, though the concerns about this form of art have a longer tradition: most of the Romanian stage great actors, since Iorgu Caragiali, have been applauded in Ploiesti and unique talents such as Cazimir Belcot, Fory Etterle, Ion Manolescu, George Oprina, Zephy Alsec, Toma Caragiu were born here.
The “Theatre of the Unified Trade Unions” was transformed into a professional institution named the “State Theatre” which carried on its activity in a hall on Anton Pann Street. Later on, when that hall was to be assigned to the Philharmonic Orchestra, the theater got the premises of the former cinema-theatre “Odeon” which has been restored several times since then and have become a welcoming host for the dozens of premieres and hundreds of performances.
Music is another art very loved in Ploiesti. The tour-concerts, and not only those held by George Enescu were played with full houses and rewarded by generous applauses.
In 1960, the folk music orchestra “Flacara Prahovei”, and the symphonic orchestra “Ciprian Porumbescu” (1955) were unified in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Ploiesti, under the initiative of its first conductor dr. C.N. Debie.
The Philharmonic Orchestra of Ploiesti was to become famous throughout the country and abroad, due to C.N Debie and those who continued his work, especially to Ion Baciu, one of the greatest Romanian contemporary conductors.
At present, a great reputation is achieved by “I. Cr. Danielescu” Chorus, which performed in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany.
The “Marama” folkloric ensemble composed by 24 dancers, vocalists, instrumentalists, performed in France, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Hungary and Greece. Also the modern dance group “Atlantis” obtained several rewards.