During its Communist regime, and for almost a decade after its fall, Romania had maintained a large army consisting of a large number of contractual officers and large masses of conscripts. It had an air force, a navy, infantry, and tank regiments, among others, stationed at bases all across the country. In 2007, though, ahead of the country’s admission to the European Union, conscription was abolished. This lead to the reduction of Romania’s military personnel to a fraction of its previous size. It meant that the vast majority of its military bases were decommissioned, joining the ranks of the many abandoned places in Europe. One of them, simply called Tancodrom Oradea, is a former tank base abandoned more than a decade ago. It is just a couple of kilometres outside Oradea, a small town in the Western part of the country.
Like many things during the time of Communism in Romania, the history of Tancodrom Oradea is a mystery. Many of the personnel that served there have given conflicting reports of when the tank base was built. There was no official date given by the Communist regime after its fall in 1989 and the end of Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule.
Prior to being abandoned completely, the complex was rundown with modern facilities lacking. Some of the buildings, especially those that were used as offices and storage, were left standing after being abandoned. There are some buildings on the former tank base are still in a relatively good condition and these have been inhabited by families of homeless people. Many other buildings, though, especially the barracks that used to serve as a home to conscripts, are completely uninhabited, probably because at times, they can be a bit dangerous. They are still filled with clothes, boots, and various other items left behind when the building was abandoned. The base was stripped of anything useful, even their windows and doors.
Today, the authorities of Oradea have taken over the real estate and are in the process of turning Tancodrom Oradea into an industrial park. Soon, the remains of the military base will be torn down and the area will be flattened to make space for the businesses willing to build factories or warehouses in the area.