Welcome to Timişoara!
Lying near the Hungarian and Serbian borders, Timişoara is considered the gateway to the West and has a long history of cosmopolitan multiculturalism.
It is Romania’s third-largest city (after Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca) and in this scholar’s opinion, is one of the country’s most attractive urban areas. It is a green, pleasant, walkable city with many cafes, restaurants, markets, and museums. Buses and trams are also available to get you from one place to the other.
Train trips to nearby European cities, including Budapest and Vienna, make for fun, affordable options for vacations during school break. The city is serviced by an international airport (although it is sometimes cheaper to take a Tarom/Blue Air/Ryanair regional flight to Bucharest and fly out from OTP; be sure to explore all your travel options!)
Located in the Banat region, Timişoara is built around a series of beautifully restored public squares and lavish parks and gardens. It’s known as Primul Oraş Liber (The First Free City), and is famous today as the birthplace of the 1989 Romanian Revolution that ended the Ceauşescu dictatorship.
It was here that anti-Ceauşescu protests first exceeded the Securitate’s capacity for violent suppression in 1989, eventually sending Ceauşescu and his wife to their deaths.
There are two malls, each with a Cinema City multiplex, which show recent releases of American movies in English with Romania subtitles. If you want to see a movie in 3D or IMAX, you will need to purchase your own glasses, which you can keep to use for future film viewings.
Sights to See
- Museum of the 1989 Revolution [Memorialul Revolutiei]
In my opinion, this is the most important thing to see in Timişoara (I also specifically study the 1989 Revolution, so I might be biased😉) but seriously, in order better understand the historical significance of the events that transpired, come to the Memorialil Revolutiei. Founded by a veteran of the revolution, displays include a 20-minute video (I suggest starting your tour with this), documentation, posters, personal artifacts, and photographs from those fateful days.
- Muzeul Consumatorului Communist [Communist Consumers Museum]
Odd collection of pre-1989 consumer goods manufactured in Romania. If you can, go here with a local person (one of my students introduced me to it), so they can explain the significance of the various items, which include photographs, books, toys, kitchen wares, and much more. It can be tricky to find, but it is just where the map states (sometimes listed as SCART/Scârţ Loc Lejer). It is reachable by tram (6 , 7 , 8 or 10) or by bus (E8), although I always just walked there. There’s no sign but the entrance is just off the street, behind a gate and up some stairs. No fee to enter, although they do accept cash donations to help with operating costs. Have a beer/coffee/tea/hot chocolate and maybe a dessert (which are also representative of the Communist era), then check out the collection, which is located in the basement of the cafe.
Don’t expect a “real” museum; this is a kitschy personal exhibit of items from a way of life that no longer exists, curated by the owner of the bar/cafe from community donations. Set up like a Communist-era apartment from that era, with a living room, children’s room, kitchen and hallway, it fills to the point of overflowing. Everything is explorable, so feel free to open up the drawers and armoires to reveal more hidden surprises. Sometimes they host live music shows as well.
- Memorial to Victims of 1989 Revolution
Located at the southern end of Piaţa Victorie, this sculpture of a crucifix shaped by massive nails pays homage to victims of the 1989 anti-communist uprising.
- Piaţa Unirii
The picturesque main square of Timisoara’s Old Town is a focal point for the whole city. My favourite café to relax, draw, and people watch is located in this square (it has the best white hot chocolate in the city!)
- Theresia Bastion
An 18th eighteenth century fortification named for Queen Maria Theresia (mother of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France) who actually acted as an empress in the Habsburg states. With many cafés and bars in the area, this is a fun place to hang out with friends during warm weather.
- Parcul Rozelor [Roses Park]
My favourite green space in the city, known for its colourful rose gardens. It’s close to the Bega river. Outdoor concerts, festivals and other events (such as the UVT graduation) are often held here. If Timişoara is called “the city of flowers,” it probably has a lot to do with this amazing park. Many different, colourful flowers and lots of white benches combine to create a tranquil, romantic atmosphere. My first encounter with this park was the Street Food Festival. I see people doing parkour here a lot too, which is fun to watch.
- Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral
Located in Victoria square, the Metropolitan Romanian Orthodox Cathedral (also known as the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral) was built between 1936 and 1946. Its Byzantine-influenced architecture recalls the style of the Bucovina monasteries with floor tiles styled after traditional Banat carpets. The dome has a height of 83.7 m, making it one of the tallest buildings in Timisoara. The cathedral bells have a combined weight of 7,000 kg, and were made from a metal alloy imported from the Indonesian islands of Java and Borneo. They were tuned by famous composer Sabin Drăgoi.
- Opera House
Located right in the city centre by the beautiful Victory Square, the Opera House is home to the ballet and German theatre troupes, along with other touring shows. Built between 1871 and 1875, the architecture of this building is enchanting both within and without. Do yourself a favour and see at least one production here if at all possible; they offer a nice variety of showings at a reasonable price.
- Tökés Reformed Church
This church is historically significant because it was where the 1989 revolution began, when Father Lászlo Tökés spoke out against the regime, bringing people onto the streets to resist the attempts to arrest him.
I I could go on, but I want to leave some things for you to discover yourself.
It is my hope that your heart will embrace and fall in love with this beautiful place the same way mine did.
Mi’iwi [thats all for now] ❤️🇷🇴💙