Why TimișoaraThe city of Premieres:

  • 1753 – Timisoara is a city with a permanent theatrical season (the third city of the Habsburg monarchy, after Vienna and Budapest);
  • 1771 – The first newspaper in Romania and also the first German newspaper in south-eastern Europe “Temeswarer Nachrichten” was published
  • 1815 – Josef Klapka library, first public lending library in the Habsburg Empire, the kingdom of Hungary and the Romanian territory;
  • 1884 – First town on the European continent with electric lighted streets, with 731 lamps;
  • 1886 – First ambulance station in Hungary and Romania;
  • 1895 – First asphalt road in Romania;
  • 1899 – First electric tram in Romania;
  • 1996 – Birth of first child conceived in vitro in Romania, and the first child conceived by embriotransfer technique, made the team of Professor Ioan Munteanu;
  • 2001 – The first laser heart surgery in Romania;
  • 2003 – The first transplant of hematopoietic stem cells, to regenerate heart muscle in a patient with extensive myocardial infarction (first in Eastern Europe, the team of Prof. Dr. Stefan I. Dragulescu)

General Information about Timisoara

Location: Western Romania (County: Timis)
Size: 52 sq. miles (130.5 sq. kilometers)
Elevation: 310 ft. (90 meters)
Population: 304,000
Inhabited since: 200 BC
First documented: 1212 AD

The first record of the city of Timisoara, built on the site of an ancient Roman fortress called Castrum Regium Themes, dates back to 1212.

Over the years, Timisoara, the largest city in western Romania, has been influenced by many cultures. The Romans used it as an important crossroads fortress until the Tatars destroyed it in the 13th century. Conquered by Turkish armies in 1552, Timisoara remained under their protection until 1718 when the region of Banat came under Austrian rule for two centuries. Timisoara later became a vital commercial and manufacturing town. Turks, Austrians, Germans and Serbs all left their mark and their influence can be seen in neighborhoods throughout the city even today.

Thanks to its mild climate, Timisoara has lots of public squares and lush green retreats. The city is easy to explore on foot. If you get tired, a tram will be along in a moment; the system is fast, frequent and efficient.

Timisoara abounds with churches of several denominations, a Jewish quarter, an elegant baroque square and a pedestrian-only downtown area. Some of the monuments in the heart of the city afford panoramic views, while the many parks in this “city of flowers” provide an idyllic spot to take a break from sightseeing.

Landmarks

In many respects, it is the abundance of Secessionist architecture that has provided Timisoara with its rather appropriate moniker, “Little Vienna.” Secessionism developed in two distinct architectural phases here. Sinuous lines and floral decorations characterized the first phase which lasted until 1908. The second phase, which continued until the First World War, saw simpler, larger buildings with geometrical designs. Secessionism in Romania was an important link between the Byzantine style and later modernist architecture.

Victory Square (Piata Victoriei)

Some of the city’s most interesting sites are its elegant baroque buildings, spread around town and particularly along the main square, Piata Victoriei, which stretches from Opera Square (Piata Operei) to Loga Boulevard.

The focal point is the towering Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral(Catedrala Ortodoxa Mitropolitana) at the south side of the square. Built between 1936 and 1946, its green and red roof tiles are arranged in a mosaic design. In front of the Cathedral is a memorial to those who lost their lives during the 1989 Revolution which overthrew Communist rule. The Memorial Museum of the 1989 Revolution(Muzeul Revolutiei) offers a full insight into the revolution in Timisoara (see museum details).

Union Square (Piata Unirii)

TimisoaraAcross the town centre is the picturesque Habsburg-era Piata Unirii, so-named for the imposing sight of the Romano-Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Cathedrals facing each other. Historic pastel-hued buildings line the square. During the 18th century, this was the city’s commercial centre and the venue for numerous military processions and religious ceremonies.

Nicolas Lenau College (Liceul Nicolas Lenau)

Located on the north side of the square, was built in 1761 and was home to the earliest theatre in Timisoara.

The baroque Serbian Orthodox Cathedral(Biserica Orthodoxa Sarba), built in 1745-48, and the mint green and white Serbian Bishop’s Residence(Vicariatul Ortodox Sarb) with its extravagant decorations are located on the west side of the square. The Cathedral can be visited daily between 7am and 6pm.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral (Catedrala Episcopala Romano-Catolica)

TimisoaraOn the east side of the square was built between 1736 and 1754 to the design of Fisher von Erlach and represents a fine example of Viennese baroque style. The main altar painting was completed by Michael Angelo Unterberger, director of the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna.

The impressive 18th century Baroque Palace(Palatul Vechii Prefecturi) dominates the square’s south side. Formerly the governor’s residence, it now houses the Museum of Fine Arts with works by German, Flemish and Italian artists. See museum details below.

At the northwest corner of Piata Unirii stands the spectacular Scont Bank(Banca de Scont). This typical Hungarian-style art nouveau structure, built in the early 20th century, features an organic shape comprising curved walls studded with turquoise tiles forming patterns drawn from folklore, and extravagant iron gutters and window grills.

From Piata Unirii, walk east along Str. Palanca to the oldest building in Timisoara, now housing the Banat Etnographic Museum (see museum details) within the city’s remaining 18th century bastion.

Freedom Square (Piata Libertatii) to Victory Square (Piata Victoriei)

Another remarkable open space in the city is Piata Libertatii which offers a great display of Secessionist architecture. The Banat region was under Turkish rule from 1552 until 1716 when the Austrian-Habsburg Prince Eugene de Savoy took over Timisoara. At this time, a seven-star- shaped bastion and gate-towers were constructed and the marshes surrounding the town were drained by the new Habsburg governor, General Mercy.

Continue along Str. Lucian Blaga to the 14th century Huniade Castle (Castelul Huniade). Built during the rule of Carol Robert, Prince de Anjou, it was completed by Iancu of Hundeoara and redesigned by the Habsburgs in the 18th century.

Residential areas

South and east of the Bega Canal are the Josefin, Elisabetin and Fabric residential districts, true gems of Jugendstil, or art nouveau, architecture, built mainly in the late 19th century. The small residential square of Piata Plevnei, south of the Bega Canal, is bordered by excellent examples of the first phase of Secessionist architecture, such as Gemeinhardt’s Peacock House(Casa cu Pauni) built in 1905. Facades are covered with an abundance of typical motifs: peacocks, swans, owls and squirrels together with sinuous vines and foliage. The theme continues on the buildings lining Splaiul Tudor Vladimirescu, following the south bank of the Bega, and to a lesser extent, around nearby Piata Maria and Bulevardul 16 Decembrie 1989.

Secessionist, or Art Nouveau architecture also can be found in the cities of Arad (especially on Strada Closca and Piata Avram Iancu), Oradea (Vulturul Negru and Astoria hotels), Cluj (Odon Lechner National Theatre), Satu Mareand Targu Mures (Palace of Culture).

Jewish Timisoara

TimisoaraEven though Jewish presence in the Banat region dates back to the 2nd century AD, the first written mention of the Jewish community in Timisoara occurred in 1716, when the Turkish army commander surrendered the town to the Austrian Prince Eugeniu of Savoia.

In the old Sephardic cemetery, graves dating to the Turkish occupation may be seen, the oldest belonging to Azriel Assael, a Rabbi and surgeon who died in 1636. A century latter, Rabbi Meir Amigo and four followers from Istanbul were allowed to settle in the city. Following the implementation of citizen rights acts in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Timisoara’s Jewish community flourished, reaching a population of almost 7,000. Six synagogues were built in the city after 1867, the year of the Austro-Hungarian reconciliation. Today, three remain with one still active.

The New Synagogue in Fabric (Sinagoga din Fabric)

Address: Str. Splaiul Coloniei 2
One of the most beautiful buildings in Timisoara, the synagogue in the Fabric district was built in 1899 by Hungarian architect Lipot Baumhorn in a traditional Moorish style. It is currently closed for structural repairs.

Great Synagogue(Sinagoga Cetate)

Address: Str: Resita 55
This Neolog-rite synagogue, built in Oriental style in 1865, resembles the great synagogue in Oran, Algeria. One of the largest synagogues in Europe, it is currently closed for structural repairs.

Orthodox Synagogue

Address: Iosefin district
Built between 1906 and 1910, this Orthodox Synagogue is the only one in service at this moment.

Museums

Banat Museum (Muzeul Banatului)

Address: Piata Huniade 1
Tel: 0256 491.339
Email:muzeul.banatului@yahoo.com
Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; Closed Mon.
Admission charge
Occupying a 14th century castle, this museum boasts sizeable historical and natural history sections.

Banat Museum, Ethnographic Section (Muzeul Banatului, Sectia de Etnografie)

Address: Str. Popa Sapca 4
Tel: 0256 491.339
Email:muzeul.banatului@yahoo.com
Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; Closed Mon.
Admission charge
Exhibits of textiles, folk costumes, and glass-painted icons are on display.

Memorial Museum of the 1989 Revolution (Muzeul Revolutiei)

Address: Str. Emanuil Ungureanu 8 (behind Piata Unirii)
Tel: 0256 294.936
Email:amrtim@lasting.ro
Open: Mon. – Sun. 9:00am – 5:00pm
Free admission
The Memorial Museum exhibits uniforms of Romanian militia and military, written testimonies of witnesses and participants in the Revolution, and personal documents, an audio-visual archive, a library and a collection of newspapers. A video charting the rise and fall of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu may be shown on request.

Timisoara Art Museum (Muzeul de Arta)

Address: Str. Mercy 2
Tel: 0256 491.339
www.muzeuldeartatm.ro
Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00am – 6:00pm; Closed Mon.
Admission charge
The collection includes works of 15th – 17th century Italian masters and prints by important European artists.

Banat Village Museum (Muzeul Satului Banatean)

Address: Aleea CFR 1
Tel: 0256 225.588
Email:office@msbtm.ro
www.msbtm.ro
Open: Tue. – Sat. 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sun. 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Closed Mon.
Admission charge
This open-air museum, located three miles from the city centre, exhibits more than 30 traditional peasant houses dating from the 19th century. Wood, stone and clay homes were taken piece by piece and set up in the beautiful surroundings of Padurea Verde (Green Forest). Craftsmen’s fairs and folk shows are held here periodically.

Serbian Bishops’ Collection (Muzeul Diocezei Ortodoxe Sarbesti)

Address: Piata Unirii 4
Tel: 0256 430.426
Open: Mon. – Sun. 7:30am – 3:30pm
Admission charge
The collection includes portraits and outstanding 18th century icons.

Nearby Attractions

Recas Vineyards

Where: 12 miles east of Timisoara
Access: car, bus, train
http://www.recaswine.ro/?r=na
Taste white, red and rosé wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgund Mare, Merlot, Cadarca, Feteasca Regala or Creata at Recas Wine Cellars (Cramele Recas). A visit at the cellars will give you the opportunity to attend a presentation of the wine making process in the Barrique Hall, and the conservation of bottled wines in the Recas vinoteque – featuring stocks of exceptional vintages.

Day Trips

Arad

Where: 30 miles north of Timisoara
Access: car, bus, train
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Arad.html

Lugoj – Densus – Colti

Where: 37 – 100 miles east of Timisoara
Access: car

Visit the old town centre in Lugoj with its 18th century Orthodox Church of the Assumption, one of the most representative baroque buildings in Banat.

Jules Verne was inspired by the Colti fortress when he wrote his famous novel The Carpathian Castle. His other two novels whose actions take place in Romania are The Danube Pilot and The Stuborn Keraban.

Next, cross the Carpathians into Transylvania and stop by at Densus, where you can find one of the oldest Romanian churches. The strange looking stone monument was built in the 13th century, and some historians assume it is a re-shaped Roman mausoleum. Build from river rocks, bricks with Roman inscriptions and funerary stones, the Saint Nicholas Church at Densus church makes for an interesting visit.

Couple of miles east, climb up to the ruins of the Colti fortress* in Suseni. The Castle was first mentioned in the 14th century as belonging to the Cindea family. From up here enjoy a spectacular view over the rugged peaks and ridges of the nearby Retezat Mountains.

Hunedoara

Where: 105 miles east of Timisoara
Access: car, bus, train

Drive over picturesque hills with secluded villages to Hunedoara. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Hunedoara was one of the main iron extraction and processing centres in Transylvania. The swords and spears manufactured here during this period were renowned across Europe. The town is home to the mighty 15th century Corvinilor Castle (Castelul Corvinilor), one of the most important examples of gothic architecture in Central and Eastern Europe.
For more information about Corvinilor Castle please visit:
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Castles-Fortresses.html#Corvinesti

The region around Hunedoara was one of the earliest settled parts of Romania. Deep in the mountains above Orastie you will find Neolithic remains and vestiges of the Dacian citadels, including Sarmizegetusa Fortress (UNESCO World Heritage Site), seat of kings Burebista and Decebal. The former Dacian capital was conquered by the Romans in 106 AD. Today you can still admire remnants of the forum and the stone amphitheatre, where gladiator shows were held.

Near Hunedoara, you can take in the scenery of Woodlanders’ Country (Tara Padurenilor), a region where people have maintained their traditional dress and folklore.

Retezat National Park

Where: 130 miles east of Timisoara
Access: car
www.RomaniaTourism.com/The-Carpathian-Mountains.html#RetezatNationalPark

Set amid one of Romania’s most beautiful mountain ranges, Retezat National Park claims some of the highest rocky peaks (such as Retezatu and Peleagu, both more than 8,202 ft. in height) reflected in a string of over 80 clear glacial lakes. A hiker’s paradise, Retezat became Romanian’s first national park in 1935 and later, a biosphere reserve.

Herculane Spa (Baile Herculane)

Where: 100 miles southeast of Timisoara
Access: car, bus, train

Visit one of oldest thermal spas in the world. Legend says that Hercules cured the wounds inflicted by the Hydra by bathing in the mineral springs of this area. Take time to relax in the hot spring near the well-preserved 19th century town.

Performing Arts

Symphonic Music

Banat Philharmonic (Filarmonica de Stat Banatul)
Address: Blvd. C.D. Loga 2
Tel. 0256 495.012
Email:filarmonicatm@yahoo.com
www.filarmonicabanatul.ro

Opera & Ballet

Romanian Opera House (Opera Nationala Romana Timisoara)
Address: Str. Marasesti 2
Tel: 0256 201.286
Email: ort@artelecom.net
http://www.ort.ro
The construction of the Romanian Opera House, began in 1871 and ended four years later, in 1875. The design was that of Viennese architects, Helmer and Fellner, the authors of numerous concert halls in Budapest , Vienna and Odessa . The murals in the concert hall are inspired by history and popular Romanian fairytales. Opera in Timisoara was appreciated as far back as the end of the 18th century. Joseph Strauss started out as Musical Director at Timisoara , where he composed and presented the world premiere of Faust’s Life and Deeds. Franz Liszt also performed in Timisoara in 1846.

Theatre

National Theatre (Teatrul National)
Address: Str. Marasesti
Tel: 0256 201.288

German State Theatre(Teatrul German de Stat)
Address: Str. Marasesti 2
Tel: 0256 201.291

Hungarian State Theatre (Teatrul Maghiar de Stat Csiky Gergely)
Address: Str. Alba Iulia 2
Tel: 0256 134.814

Puppet Theatre (Teatrul pentru copii si tineret Merlin)
Address: Blvd. Tineretii 3
Tel: 0256 193.049

Source: http://romaniatourism.com/