THE CELESTIAL-TERRESTRIAL CAPITAL CITY
OF THE LOWER DANUBE
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florn Alexandru Stancu
special guest astrophotographer Valentin Grigore-
“I welcome with my crying the Sun rising
And the Moon, which finds me in sigh and sob,
For me only a circle of pain passes…”
-Costache Conachi (from Letter to Zulnia,
in my English version)-
Costache Conachi (1777-1849)
was a Romanian aristocrat, born (and buried after 72 years of life)
on an estate in the Galati zone,
who had an important career as a high state functionary,
engineer and organizer of institutions.
He was also a poet of love and a sky lover,
who candidly explained about gravity that
“attraction, which came to the mind of great Newton,
is a hanging that the heavenly bodies have one to another”,
and brought from Vienna to the Romanian state of Moldova,
in a chariot with a few horses,
a large lunette (157 mm in diameter) in 1823.
This picturesque vision has marked me so much,
that every time when I watch the Great Chariot (Ursa Major)
in the sky
(like in the image from below,
taken by Valentin Grigore during SARM’s Perseid Event in 2014),
I think of Conachi’s chariot carrying that object for astronomical use.
The city of Galati’s history began
with a Geto-Dacian settlement (6th century BCE),
then with a Roman fortress (2nd century ACE),
and, after more foreign conquests,
continued as part of Moldova (14th century)
and of United Romania (1859).
Placed at the confluence of Siret with Danube,
Galati (now a city with about 250,000 inhabitants)
was for a while the Moldavian border to Wallachia,
the headquarters of the European Commission of Danube (since 1856).
and, together with Braila (placed in Wallachia, at only 20 km distance),
the co-creator of the cosmopolitan civilization and culture
of the Lower Danube.
A city which,
inspired by the memory of Costache Conachi,
I visited in August 2013.
Coming from Braila by train,
the traveller firstly sees a major achievement of the former communist regime,
the Galati Steel Works, launched in 1965 as the largest in South East Europe
(with 50,000 employees in those times,
but now, after its privatization, with only 7,000 employees).
Coming from Braila by bus,
the traveller sees another communist achievement,
the Galati Television Tower (110 m high, made in 1978).
But I preferred to consider my visit to Galati
beginning from the oldest edifice of the city,
the Fortified Church of Holy Virgin,
made in the 1640s.
Then I lowered to the Danube River
going to the Palace of Navigation
(made in 1912 by a specialist in the Neo-Romanian style, Petre Antonescu),
and remarking a few mythological-astronomical denominations:
Vega, Perseus, Aquarius…
I climbed to the centre of the city
and I admired an entire cosmopolitan collection of historical monuments:
two Christian-Orthodox churches, an Ottoman gate, the Synagogue…
In the central zone, I remarked other astral denominations,
and I visited the small park with the first statue of the Romanian national poet,
Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889),
erected in 1911.
Then I dedicated my visit to one of the most beautiful streets in the world,
the Domneasca (“Monarchical”) Street,
made in the 1890s
(as a historical joke,
during their time the communists renamed it the… Republic Boulevard!),
and I walked among many aristocratic houses near:
-the Greek Church (founded in 1866
on the place where members of the Filiki Eteria
had attacked the Ottoman guards in 1821,
starting - right on the Romanian territory! - the war
for the independence of Greece);
-the University (made in the 1910 with elements of Neo-Romanian Style
by a collective led by Traian Cerchez);
-the copy of Lupa Capitolina from Rome,
the City Hall, the Lambrinidis House…
-the Palace of Prefecture (made in the 1910s
by even the main creator of the Neo-Romanian style, Ion Mincu;
it musically announces the hours through The Waves of the Danube,
the famous waltz composed by Ion Ivanovici);
-the dramatic theatre;
-the Roman-Catholic Church
(founded in 1833);
-the Orthodox Cathedral of the Lower Danube
(made in between 1906 and 1917 in the Neo-Romanian style)…
before lowering to the new railroad station.
Finally I have to speak
about the Galatian contemporary followers in astronomy
of Costache Conachi.
After the year 2000 they fought for the construction of an astronomical observatory,
which was endowed with a telescope of 400 mm in diameter in 2009.
In August 2012 (one year before my visit)
Jan Ovidiu Tercu (observatory coordinator) and Alex Dumitriu
discovered here two variable stars
in the constellations Cassiopeia and Andromeda.
One month after my visit (September 2013)
their discoveries were officially-internationally accepted under the denominations of
Galati V1 and Galati V2,
expanding the name of this city in the sky!
I would add that
(it is more than a joke!)
if in mythology
Cassiopeia and Andromeda were enemies,
they were reconciled by the astronomers of Galati!
What do you say about this,
Universal citizens have always tried to be
(From a simple lunette to an entire observatory)
Servants in the sublime continuity
Of the astral glory.
© 2016 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)