Székelyudvarhely’s observatory may finally be renovated

Public funding had been announced for the fourth time in a row to modernize the observatory of Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) and its surroundings. Although the town had already won money for the project, no contractors applied in the first three occasions due to incorrect price estimates. So this time, two separate tenders were announced for planning and construction. According to the town’s leadership, if the tender is successful, construction can start next year.

Following the failure of the third public procurement process, the town council re-estimated the project’s value, and it turned out that the original estimates were unrealistic. Instead of RON 5.5 million (EUR 1.13 million), the funding needed would be about RON 8.4 million (EUR 1.73 million), meaning that the town itself will have to take on far more of the overall cost, 52% instead of 12%.

Spokeswoman of the Székelyudvarhely Mayor’s Office Noémi Zörgő told szekelyhon.ro that this time they announced two separate tenders for the planning and the actual construction; she also noted that the public procurement for planning has already been started. “The procurement process has also been approved by the Central Regional Development Agency of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia). The next step will be to sign the agreement with the contractor. The engineers will have two months for the planning process, and according to the work schedule, we will receive all the necessary approvals during the winter and construction can start next year,” the spokeswoman said.

The town already received RON 4 million (EUR 822,000) from the Regional Operative Program for the project back in 2018, but because no contractor applied for the work during the first three tenders, the town asked for and received a delay.

The reconstruction of the observatory’s building and the landscaping of the surrounding park have to be finished by December of 2023.

The project falls into two parts: the modernization of the building itself, which will become a natural science education center, and the spatial planning of the surrounding area, where plans call for a park and a small botanical garden.

The observatory’s history

The observatory in Székelyudvarhely was built at the end of the 1980s but was never used. Local civilians interested in astronomy had wanted to build an observatory in the town; with the help of local business owners, residents and the town itself, construction started in 1989 and finished in 1991. The Universe Astronomy Association was also formed in 1990, but they did not succeed in purchasing the most important part of the building: the telescope. Later, it turned out that the metal cupola of the observatory had not been properly constructed either. Because of these issues, the association aborted its operation. They then wanted to try again in 2005, but by that time, the condition of the building had declined.


Title image: The observatory of Székelyudvarhely is waiting for its reconstruction. (Photo: Árpád Pál/szekelyhon.ro)

Author: Attila Szoó