The church was built between 1800 and 1810 and replaced an older church that had existed on this parcel of land ever since the second third of the 18th century. After the foundation of the Greek-Catholic Bishopric of Oradea, the humble edifice no longer suited the needs of the new ecclesiastical institutions, and was replaced by the current cathedral.
The construction works were commenced by Bishop Ignate Darabant and concluded by Bishop Samuel Vulcan. Initially, the cathedral featured a tower similar to that of the Moon Church, but it was destroyed by the fire of 1836.
The current tower, which is a combination of the neo-Baroque and Byzantine styles, was erected as late as 1870 upon the initiative and financing of Bishop Iosif Pop Silaghi.
After the two devastating fires of 1836 and 1907, Bishop Demetrie Radu entrusted the design of the new spire of the tower to one of the most prestigious architects of the time, namely Rimanóczy Kálmán, Jr. Although, on the exterior, the spire stands apart in relation to the neo-classical spirit of the church’s architecture, the arabesques, garlands and volutes from its profile can be found in the decorations from the interior painted by Budapest artist Szirmai Antal in 1892.
Overall, the architectural design is classicized: the pilasters are flattened, the chapiters are austere, as well as the pedestals. The four arcades that contain the windows commence from the base of the edifice, curving in a way similar to a monumental triumphal arch. The western tower boosts the momentum of the edifice’s volumetry. It is accentuated by robust cornices, but also the sturdy triangular pediment, a true mark of the neo-classical style. On the inside, the paintwork and the architectural imagery impresses through the stylistic sumptuousness: gilded pendants, decorated in Corinthian style, elegant colonettes with a smooth shaft, grooved only at the bottom side, garlands, strings of pearls, seashells, stalks, volutes. The scenes from the New Testament painted by Szirmai perpetuate the late Baroque spirit: diagonal compositions, miraculous apparitions depicted through the use of foreshortening, broad rhetorical gestures, ruffled garments resembling drapes, all painted using optical illusionism (trompe l’oeil).
The iconostasis is a remarkable piece in terms of decorative value. According to Byzantine tradition, it is divided into three sumptuously decorated surfaces. The main painting, whose subject is “the Descent from the Cross,” is inspired by Rembrandt’s work. Of the decorative pieces that are especially notable, we will mention the two gilded monumental stands bearing the portraits of the empress Maria Theresa and Joseph II, covered by the medallions of the Holy Virgin and Jesus Christ. They are conceived in the artistic spirit of the Viennese Court, using the decorative elements of the “Zopf” style.