Timisoara is situated in the west of Romania, near the border with the former Yugoslavia, not far from Hungary and 600 km from Bucharest. It is home to an international airport, which has lately become the most important after Bucharest with flights to all the main Italian and European airports.
From a small fortified town dating back to 1212, known as “Castrum Temesiensis”, Timisoara has today become the largest city in western Romania with almost 400,000 inhabitants. Capital of the region of Banat, it has made giant strides forward. “Little Vienna” or “the city of flowers and parks” are two names for Timisoara that reflect two important aspects of the city: the architecture is very similar to Vienna and the numerous parks give the urban centre a pleasant, welcoming character.
Timisoara can boast the largest centre of historic buildings in Romania. Because of the long Hapsburg nomination, but also thanks to its proximity to western Europe, it is also the most cosmopolitan city in Romania and an excellent example of cohabitation between peoples. It features Orthodox and Catholic churches and cathedrals, and restaurants and bars in which Romanian, Hungarian, German, Serbian and Italian are spoken. Over the last few years, thanks an excellent local policy, the city has attracted thousands for foreign business people, mostly Italians. The presence of many universities, theatres and museums give the city a vibrant cultural life.
Freedom Square (Piata Libertatii) is considered the heart of the city, the topographical centre. It is located at the crossroads of several old roads which preserve visible traces of the past, but are also the heart of the city’s night life. Union Square (Piata Unirii) is one on the most beautiful in Romania. It is entirely pedestrianised and features a large park surrounded by beautiful brightly coloured buildings in Baroque style with decorative elements around the cornices, windows and doors. In the centre of the square stands the Trinity Column, erected in 1740 following the plague of the previous year. On the west side of the square stands the Serbian Orthodox Bishop’s residence, with a beautiful façade built in Baroque-style with oriental influences and painted in green. On the east side is the Catholic Cathedral, a Baroque building built between 1737 and 1773. The Banat Museum, on the south side of the square, is also very interesting (open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm). Founded in 1872, this museum is housed in a fourteenth-century fort built by the house of Angiò and rebuilt the following century by Prince Iancu de Hunedoare, the father of the King of Hungary Matthias Corvinus. A series of monuments can be found near Piata Unirii which are well worth a visit. Among these are the Merciful Church with adjoining hospital, an eighteenth-century Baroque building; the synagogue built in Moorish style in 1863; the house of Eugene of Savoy built in the eighteenth century and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral dating back to 1734.
The Banat Village Museum is found in Padurea Verde (Green Forest) in the north-east of the city. This open-air museum exhibits more than thirty peasant homes from different areas of the region dating from the nineteenth century.
By Eugenio Sorrentino
Photo: Romania Tourism Board
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Published on AVION TOURISM N 30