For a weekend or more, Timișoara is a city worth discovering for its diversity, history and lively arts and culture life. This is the city where the Romanian revolution of 1989 started and the one that holds the title of European Capital of Culture in 2021. And the one often called “Little Vienna,” for its heritage of Secessionist architecture.
The city standing on the northern bank of the Bega River is the third largest in western Romania and its presence is first recorded in 1212. The city was built on the site of ancient Roman fortress Castrum Regium Themes and its first fortress was Castrum de Tymes, built by the Hungarian Crown. In time, the city welcomed the most diverse cultural influences: Turkish, Austrian, German and Serbian.
A tour of Timișoara can start in Piața Libertății (The Freedom Square), which hosts the Viennese Baroque sculpture Mary-Nepomuk. The monument was transported from Vienna, by water, in 1756. It was started by Rapahel Donner and finished by Wasserburger and Blimm. Also in Piața Libertății stands the Timişoara Garrison Command and the Military Casino, a late Baroque building with rococo influences. The Old City Hall is another landmark building in this area. Its eclectic look comes from the various refurbishments it underwent in time. It was built as the “German community city hall” in 1731 but its façade was rebuilt several times.
Piața Unirii (The Union Square) hosts the Romano-Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Cathedrals, which face each other. The Roman-Catholic Cathedral, known as The Dome, was completed in 1774. It is representative of the Austrian Baroque, with the towers similar to those of the Holy Trinity Church in Salzburg. The Baroque Palace hosts the Banat Art Museum since 1984. Built in the Austrian Baroque style with some Rococo details, it has a large hall that hosted festivities occasioned by the visit of emperors and important cultural personalities, such as the musicians Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Pablo Sarasate or George Enescu.
Piața Victoriei (Victory Square) has as its main attraction point the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. Able to host about 5,000 people, it has 11 towers, the highest of which reaches 83 meters. It was built between 1936 and 1946, and its green and red roof tiles are arranged in a mosaic design. The Memorial of the 1989 Revolution stands in front of the cathedral, while the Memorial Museum offers further insight into the events that took place in the city. The Piarist Complex, including a monastery church and a school, both created by architect Szekely (together with A. Baumgarten), in the Secession style, can be found north-west of the cathedral.
For day visits from Timișoara you can try a trip to the Recas Vineyards, to Arad or to Hunedoara. If you’re in the city for longer, the city is home to an opera house and to the Banat Philharmonic, and hosts theater venues such as the German State Theatre or the Hungarian State Theatre. Timișoara regularly hosts its own Jazz Festival, a Literature Festival, and a Tango Festival, among others.
More about what to do in the city here.
Photos: Wikipedia/ Gratziela Ciortuz