Salonta is a city located in South-Eastern Europe, on the Crişurilor Plain. It is situated at the intersection of the 46º 56’ N parallel and the 21º 38’ E meridian.
It is a city in the western part of Romania and it lays in the south-western part of the Bihor County; as it is the second biggest city in the region, it’s considered a municipality.
The city was funded at commercial crossroads and it is easily accessible by car on the Oradea-Arad route (DN 79); from the eastern side the towns Tinca and Beiuş (DN 795) can be reached by car and on the western side Salonta and Méhkerék are bonded through Sarkadi street.
From Salonta’s railway station any location in the direction of Oradea, Satu Mare or Timişoara is easily reachable and on the Salonta-Kötegyán railroad one can immediately arrive in Hungary. The distance to Budapest is 220 km, to Bucharest, 620 km, to Oradea, 40 km, to Arad, 77 km. It is highly accessible through the DN 79 national road, which creates a bond between E60 and E70. The nearest motorways are M3, from Hungary, in the direction of Debrecen, and M5 in the direction of Szeged.
Salonta is a typical city for a plain, as the most important source of income was agriculture, for several decades. The agricultural territory which belongs to the city comprises 9313 hectares of tillable ground, 5813 hectares of pasture, 245 hectares of hayfield, 51 hectares of vineyard and 18 hectares of orchard. Salonta also owns 889,4 hectares of forest (mostly beech) near the city of Aleşd, which is currently under the administration of the forestry company in Aleşd.
The city has two industrial parts, one on Geszti street, where the metallurgical and food factories are, and one in the south-eastern part of the city, where there are furniture factories, shoe factories, packaging factories and hemp processing factories. Both parts are in continuous development, as new investors are planning to open some other factories. Up to the present, in Salonta, there are 700 registered businesses, 270 small producers and 300 companies.
According to the last Romanian census from 2002, the city has a population of 18136 inhabitants, made up of 10 551 Hungarians (58%), 7269 Romanians (40%), 241 Roma (1,3%), 47 Slovakians and 29 people with other nationality.
In terms of religion, there are: 9118 Reformed, 6592 Orthodox, 1398 Romano Catholics, 615 Baptized, 121 Greek Catholics, 94 Pentecostals, 24 Evangelists, 22 Adventists, 15 Unitarians and 137 persons with other religion or atheists. Nearly 40% of the population is older than 60 years and 20% is younger than 19 years.
The history of the City of Salonta
The city was first documented in 1332 under the name of Zalanta in the papal register of the Bishop of Oradea. The spelling Salonta, which is also presently used, was used for the first time in a document dating from 1587. The small village was surrounded by marsh and reed until the beginning of 1600 and it was the propriety of the Toldi family, having a population of 200-300 people. It had little economical importance in the region, it was almost invisible as it was shadowed by the city of Culişer, an important economical center, founded at crossroads. In 1598 the Turks destroy the fortress of Culişer and the village of Salonta too.
The rebirth of the city is related to the name of ruler Bocskai István and dating from 1606. The ruler offered in that same year a donation for 300 of his soldiers that raised their status among peasants. They received noble rights and a right to establish residence, beside the obligation to protect the territory.
At the end of the XIX century the city starts to develop. The swamps are drained, in order to enlarge the number of the fields. Schools, churches and state institutions are built. The Roman Catholic Church and the Baptized Church are founded in this period, beside the already existent Reformed Church. The cultural life among these years is very lavish. A railroad is built. Industry appears, at the beginning of 1800s the city has three steam mills and the company for trading animals is founded, which had exported animals on foreign markets for decades.
The centenary brings a new wave of development, the image of the city changes, it is developed. Throughout these years the city hall is built, the farmers’ collective begins its activity, new factories appear, different new organizations are formed, new sport clubs and theatre evenings are organized.
The population of the city has been very proud of its ‘son’, the poet Arany János. After his death, his statue was exposed, a memorial room with his personal objects was created. Later on, the Memorial Organization Arany buys the Truncated Tower and they set up a museum with the objects remained after the poet’s death.
Salonta is one of the first cities to commemorate the ideals from the revolution in ’48 and one of the most important personalities of the revolution, Kossuth Lajos. His statue was inaugurated in the summer of 1901 in the center of the city.
In the following years, the industry and the agriculture have started to develop.
There are many people who are practicing sports living in Salonta. There are also some sportsmen who have shown great performances. The foot tennis team is member of the national lot and it participated at the world championship; the plane modeling team, represented Romania at the most popular competitions. Some remarkable results have been achieved by the Shotokan Karate Club and by the Bushido Kick Box Club. As for table tennis, the ATS sport club is always a leader at the championships of Békés and Bihor Counties.
Basketball has nowadays reborn, being a sport which had great success in the past. We must not forget about football, as the Liberty sport school prepares future generations for winning titles. We must also mention the dance club of the city, enhancing the city’s good image everywhere they go, as they bring awards home every time. On challenge day, hundreds of people are riding horses or running, and from 2011 they can try even the triathlon challenge.
The keeping of folk traditions is a respected and continuous phenomenon. In the gallery and workshop of the Sinka István Craftsmen Circle there are always various activities organized. Visitors can admire new beautiful decorative objects made by the members of this workshop, who encourage visitors – tourists and the new generation – to participate at daily programs and craftsmen camps. In what folk dances are concerned, keeping this tradition is related to the name of the two dance groups Toldi and Mioriţa. Both groups are hosted by the Zilahy Lajos Cultural House, the young dancers are always attending every local event with great success; they are invited to other cities too, thus having an important role in the cultural life of the region. A good example when talking about keeping traditions is the Hajdú Archers Organization, which are guiding those interested through past times, not only through their activity, but with their clothing as well.
The people of Salonta are well-known about the fact that they like to eat and that they have certain culinary talents. The goulash prepared in a pot became the symbol of the city, in the memory of the elders, who lived on crops on the fields. This fact brought not only fame, but in the year 2006, when the city celebrated its 400th anniversary, it was recorded in the Guinness Book Records, when this special dish was prepared in a huge pot. Further on, beside this record, every year, a goulash preparing contest is organized on Salonta Days: several teams from twinned cities, amateurs and organizations are participating at this gastronomical contest. Some years earlier a contest for preparing other special foods was organized and the people of Salonta are saying farewell to autumn through the Festival of Sausages and Pǎlincǎ.
Salonta offers programs for every season. In March some great events are organized, the anniversary of Arany János and the commemoration of the events of March 15.
During the first week of June, on Salonta Days, there is a whole week of different programs that are waiting for those who are coming from other cities and who want to meet old friends. The Arany Festival was first organized in 2011, in the memory of Arany János.
In autumn, the week of outlaws is organized, with expositions, music and literary programs, gastronomical festivals.
Winter is the season of donation; it has already become a tradition to organize a donation evening of the companies; the collected money is then donated to the local orphanage named after Böjte Csaba.