Timisoara

With a population of 400,000, the western Romanian city of Timişoara is the country’s second-largest city after Bucharest, and the capital city of Timis County and historical capital of the Banat area. Timisoara is a walking city, divided into squares that showcase stunning architectural gems. Downtown of Timisoara is reserved for pedestrians only who walk along numerous parks, and the best time to visit the city is at twilight, when you can sip a hot wine as you stroll amid sparkling lights. Timisoara is home to year-round musical and theater performances, art galleries, museums and a buzzing nightlife. Also called “Little Vienna” or “The City of Flowers”, Timisoara is a multicultural city positioning itself in third place among the cities of science and culture. And indeed, Austrian influences are evident in the architecture, food and culture of Timisoara. On such multicultural richness testify four phonetic names of Timisoara – Timişoara, Temisvár, Temesburg, Temišvar.

Modern map of Romania presents that Timişoara (Temesvar in Hungarian) has become more homogeneous during the 20th century, but remained a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional city, closer in distance and perhaps culture to the Serbian (once Yugoslav) and Hungarian capitals than to Bucharest. Timisoara gained its reputation as the city of flowers due to number of parks, most of them lying along the banks of the Bega river. In the 19th century here lived numerous rose cultivators, well known all around the Europe. The Roses Park boasts thousands of roses and is place of many open-air cultural events and festivals.

Timisoara has a long history, beginning with ancient human settlement on the actual hearth of the city (Vinca culture, 4000 B.C.) followed later with the first fortifications around the 12th century (Timisoara was first mentioned as a place in either 1212 or 1266). The Cetate district, the city center of Timişoara has always been the “heart”, a cultural, administrative and political center of the entire city. At least eight centuries ago, here appeared the first city, an original core that initiated the development of Timişoara. The Fortress has grown ever since the 12th century. A major boost in its evolution was the building of the castle by the Hungarian king Carol Robert of Anjou between 1307 and 1315. This castle’s “successor” is the Hunyad Castle, which today houses the Banat Museum. 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 was a marshy area until the 18th century. For the economic and social development of the town there was need for a canal to drainage the marshes and for water supply. Construction of the Bega river canal started in 1728 and in 1732 the first ship floated from Timisoara along the Bega river, the Tisa and the Danube, to Pancevo, with total navigable length of 116 km.

In the Cetate district, especially at the Union Square – Unirii Square and the Liberty Square – Libertăţii Square, many Baroque buildings dating from the 18th century are still preserved. The very elegant Secession palaces of Timisoara with a great architectural value give Victoriei Square its dominant note. The whole urban ensemble is typical of the 1900s in Europe. In the city center there are also monumental buildings with neo-Romanian elements. The Cetate district of Timişoara unites historical monuments in a fascinating and original combination. Timişoara’s historical center features a system of three urban squares, unique in Romania, each square presenting different sizes, plastic solutions and architectural styles. Being the connecting link between Unirii Square and Victoriei Square, Libertăţii Square is the central element, Timişoara’s urban system’s rotary. The statue of the Holy Trinity is considered to be the most outstanding monument of Baroque art creation in Timişoara, and represents capital problems that had hit Timişoara during the plaque epidemics and war with the Turks from 1737 to 1739. Nearby is the fountain with drinking water, drilled up to 408 meters depth. The main public transport lines serving the inhabitants of Timişoara are crossing in the square, these linking neighborhoods located in the four cardinal directions, between the north and south, east and west. In terms of aesthetic perception, going through the three squares in the Cetate district and the streets that connect them, the fascinated visitor passes from the embrace of one urban space in that of a new one, “from one embrace to another”. The she-wolf statue is placed in the Victory Square – Victorei, as the gift from the town of Rome brought here in 1926, along the bronze copy of the She-wolf from the 5th century BC.

Some records testify that already in 1481 some 50 thousand people from Serbia have settled in Timisoara, expelled by the invading Turks, after the Maritza and Kosovo Battles, when Ottomans started looting, burning and killing.  Migrations from the south direction north were more frequent, and some historians claim that there were more than ten such great migrations. When Banat area was conquered by the Turks, the Hungarian king Mattias Corvinus in his letter to the Pope claims that ‘in the last four years more than two hundred thousands of Rascians have moved to his Kingdom’. In 1552 the town of Timisoara was occupied by the Turks. During the great Serb migration led by Arsenius Carnoyevich in 1690, more than 37000 families have arrived to the areas of that time Austria-Hungary /the parts of present Romania and Hungary/, who were under the Turkish hitting forced to escape from Kosovo, Macedonia, Old Raska and Sumadija areas. A little later, in the 18th century, between the Timis and Moris there were recorded over 250 thousands of settlements where the Serbs lived. After the failure of the Second Serbian Uprising in 1813, to the Hapsburg Monarchy arrived yet 100000 Serbian refugees.

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 Union square. The Old City Hall is situated at the Libertăţii Square and dates from 1731, with an inscription from the Ottoman period, the only existing evidence of Ottoman rule in the city (except for the museum pieces displayed at the Banat Museum). Most researchers consider that the inscription written in Arabic letters, in the Turkish-Osman language refers to the Turkish bath on the east side of the square. In 1552, the city of Timişoara was occupied by the Turks. Only in 1716 the Austrian imperial army, led by Prince Eugen of Savoy, managed to free the city. In 1771 Timisoara had the first beer factory in Romania, and in 1771 the first published newspaper in Romania and the first German newspaper in the South-East of Europe. During the wars with Napoleon, Emperor Franz I feared that the French troops could enter Vienna. Therefore, a precaution was to move to a safe place the crown of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The precious object (with a great historical and emotional value for the Austrians and Germans) was in 1809 secretly brought to Timişoara and hidden. Timisoara was the first European city to introduce horse-drawn trams in 1869 and electrical street lighting in 1889. The city’s fine baroque Roman-catholic cathedral was built in the mid-18th century, after the Austro-Hungarian Empire had finally secured the area from Turkish influence. The Roman Catholic Cathedral dates from 1736 and makes the most important religious baroque architecture in Banat. The main altar painting was carried out by Michael Angelo Unterberger, who was the director of the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna at the time the cathedral was built.

Timisoara tourist attractions and places to see : The Union Square, The Liberty Square, The Bastion, The Banat Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, The Banat Philharmonic with unforgettable music and jazz, The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, The Roman Catholic Dome, The Lloyd Palace, The Baroque Palace, The Rose Park, and the Hunyad Castle, the oldest monument in Timisoara. The Orthodox Mitropolitan Cathedral is the tallest cathedral in Romania and one of the largest churches in the country. It can be seen from large distance and represents the symbol of Timişoara. The cathedral is remarkable by its style, and its 11 towers, covered with enameled ceramics, as well as by the harmony of its bells.

 

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