Hello hello! Long time no see dear travelers! This time I would like to talk to you about one of the most beautiful cities in Romania in my opinion. And I’m guessing it’s not only my opinion… This amazing city is Timisoara!
Timisoara is also known as the city of roses and parks, and has a very green face, especially in spring, when tulips abound. Some call it little Vienna, because of similar architecture and the number of museums.
It’s the third most populous city in the country, with 319,279 inhabitants and also the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat. In September 2016, Timisoara was selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2021. Yaaay
Also, Timisoara is the home of the 1989 Romanian revolution that ousted the ruling party and ended with the execution of dictator Ceausescu. The bullets that signalled big C’s terminal year are memorialized by the holes dotting the Austro-Hungarian architecture.
Personally, Timisoara is my second hometown. My parents were born here and even though they moved in Bucharest while they were young, I still have a lot of relatives here and visit the city quite often. By quite often, I mean once a year, which is really not that often… and that’s only because there are more than 500km between Bucharest and Timisoara and you have to drive around 7 hours to reach your destination. You could also travel by plane, but I always go there with my family and it’s more convenient to travel by car, financially, since we are 4-5 persons. So yeah, distance is an issue. Hopefully, the highway between these 2 large cities will be done soon and things will get better. Although, I also hope I won’t be turning 50 when it will be done :))) because, you know… this is how things run here in Romania. Let’s say… with a slightly delay haha.
Ok, but let’s start properly. On this trip, the guilty as charged travelers are husband and I, my mom and my stepfather. And because there are so many kilometres to cross the country from south to west, I also picked the route. So I picked the Transalpina Road, which is the highest road in Romania and also included the Corvin Castle on our itinerary, one of the most beautiful castles in our country. So here starts our DAY 1. Sounds good right?
The Transalpina or DN67C located in the Parâng Mountains group, in the Southern Carpathians of Romania, is one of the highest roads of the Carpathian Mountains. It is said that the road was built under King Carol II and rebuilt during World War II by German troops and it is called The King’s Road by the locals.
The road has its highest point at the Urdele Pass, where the elevation is 2,145m above sea level. Given the high altitude, the road is closed during the cold months of the year.
Forgot to mention that it was 1st of June, meaning Children’s Day so my mom and my stepfather were acting accordingly haha.
Next stop, Corvin Castle. However, on our way, we found out that we could also visit The Prislop Monastery, which is very popular here in Romania, because of Arsenie Boca who was a Romanian Orthodox monk, theologian and artist. He was persecuted by the Communists and named among the 100 greatest Romanians. Therefore, we added this monastery as well on our list for that day – checked.
Afterwards, we finally reached Corvin Castle. Ok, most of you will probably hate me for this, but I wasn’t impressed by this castle ;( I think I just had waaaay bigger expectations. It was the first time visiting it and what I saw in pictures previously… didn’t match the reality. And let me explain you why. The castle itself is more than beautiful and impressive, with a superb Gothic architecture. Don’t get me wrong! It is also one of the largest castles in Europe and figures in a top of seven wonders of Romania! However, the location sucks! There… I said it! It just doesn’t fit there. Such a beautiful castle being located practically within the Hunedoara city, surrounded by old and abandoned buildings… It didn’t seem right! No forest, no mountain, no nothing. So yeah, I was pretty dissapointed. I believe the Peles Castle or Bran Castle are way more beautiful than this one, only because of their locations. Oh well, in the end I’m glad I actually managed to see it and that’s that!
Our last stop before reaching our destination that day, was at a well known restaurant near Lugoj – a small town next to Timisoara – to eat some famous pancakes. The restaurant is called “Ana Lugojana“. However, even my mom admitted, the famous pancakes were not as they used to be in the past. And we also had to wait more than 40 minutes for 4 pancakes. Which is not ok ;( Therefore, not recommending it.
Our road trip ends here for now, we finally arrived in Timisoara after almost 15 hours of driving! Yuhuuu
DAY 2 was dedicated entirely for visiting our relatives, having a barbecue, drinking some beers and stuff like that. So yeah, we just relaxed that day. However, in the evening, we went for a stroll by the Bega river.
You will find many outside venues in the city centre. In the summertime the best place to hang out is on the banks of the river Bega on the southern side of town: the many bars and restaurants provide shade and drinks.
This is the Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral which is built on an area of 1,542 m2, has 11 towers, of which the central and the highest has a height of 90.5 meters. The Metropolitan Cathedral is listed in the National Register of Historic Monuments.
The cathedral was raised between 1936 and 1941. The building’s style is Neo-Moldavian style, based on Romanian Orthodox, late Renaissance, Ottoman, and Byzantine architecture elements, such as niches under the eaves, ribbed star vaulting in the interior, and lacquered discs in a variety of colors.
On DAY 3 husband and I just wanted to explore the city so we walked around for approximately 8 hours that day. YEP I really had bruises on my feet after all this walking. But it totally worth it! Let me show you more…
The following pictures are taken in the Traian Square. This is part of the old city, but is more quite like a separated neighborhood, often called Fabric, due to his old factories around that used to run from old times. The buildings are beautiful, but be careful. Try not to visit the area at night and always keep an eye on your valuables. Nearby you can find the Timisoreana brewery.
Next stop: The Children’s Park. This is the park I loved the most when I was little. My grandpa used to bring me here and I remember I was alwayyyys more than happy. Did you know that you can visit Timisoara by passing from one park to another?
Oh well, Timisoara is known in Romania as the City of Parks. Important parks you can visit are: Botanical Park (near Piata Unirii), Rose Park (near Piata Victoriei), Central Park (near Piata Victoriei, just behind the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral), Children’s Park (near the Student Campus) and other.
From there, we continued our walk by the Bega Canal which is the first navigation canal built on the present-day territory of Romania. It crosses the territory of Timiș County and proceeds into the territory of Serbia, merging with Begej river near the village of Klek.
A little bit of Berlin here, right? There are a lot of graffiti on the walls making this part of the city looking pretty cool.
The city has an excellent public transport service including trolleybuses, trams and buses. The majority of buses and trolleybuses are new. The trams are old German models, but are comfortable enough. Most of the tram and bus stops have digital panels which list the waiting times.
There are two types of tickets, one for the three express lines (buses) and one for the rest of the buses, trams and trolleys. The price for one ticket is around 0.5 € , and you can find them at newspaper/cigarette stands around almost every stop. You can also buy passes for a day, a week, two weeks or a month, on one, two or all lines. Single tickets and certain passes are available from the many kiosks which display the yellow RATT (the public transport concern) sign.
Probably the best way to see the city is by taking a free tour of the city. Understanding that it’s better to bring as many tourists as possible and not to charge them for everything, locals offer free city tours, mostly for English speakers but also for German/Hungarian speakers. A simple search on Google will find such free city tours.
In 2015 Timisoara became the first city in Romania to offer public transport by bike. The bicycle-sharing system has 25 stations and 300 bikes which can be used by locals and tourists for free. Starting from 2016, RATT also offers vaporetto public transport on the Bega canal, resulting in Timisoara being the only city in Romania with 5 types of public transportation.
During our stroll we walked through the following three important squares here in Timisoara:
- “Piata Victoriei” (Victory Square or Opera Square). It’s the symbol of the Romanian revolution. Here you can find The Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral, The Opera House, The City Hall, The Philharmonic, The Banat Museum and beautiful palaces built at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
- “Piata Unirii” (Union Square). With its beautiful palaces and all the coffee houses it is the old city’s center. Here you find The Catholic Dome, The Baroque Palace (now a beautiful art gallery), The Serbian Church and other important buildings.
- “Piata Libertatii” (Liberty Square). Located between Piata Unirii and Piata Victoriei is a small square with old buildings. Here you can find the old City Hall and the beautiful St. Nepomuk’s Statue.
The Brück house is a building in Piata Unirii (Union Square) built in 1910 by architect Szekely Laszlo in Art-Nouveau and Secession styles, with a mildly eclectic character. It is a four-level building and has been beautifully restored in 2012. I simply love this building! It’s the most beautiful one in the city!
Below is the Romanian National Opera. The first performance was on 27 April 1875, the inaugural concert being Aida by G. Verdi. On April 20, 1880 the building was devastated by the first fire. The reconstruction, completed in 1882, keeps the original Renaissance style of the facade. After the second fire, which took place in 1920, only the lateral wings remain intact. The reconstruction of the building began on July 15, 1923, by architect Duiliu Marcu.
In the city center, we ate a super good ice-cream from “Il Gelato di Bruno“. You should try it!
If you want to eat in Timisoara, you can find places for every budget. Because Timisoara is a very cosmopolitan city, the local cuisine is influenced by Italian, Serbian, Hungarian, German, Turkish and Arabic cuisine.
And again, more graffiti… YAY
We also walked through the Botanical Park and on our way back to grandma’s house, we passed by The Bastion which is part of Timisoara’s old defensive walls. The Bastion is located near Piata Unirii and it has been recently renovated. It covers about 1.7 hectares of the city center and it was built between 1732–1734. Today it is used as a passage, but it also houses commercial spaces, restaurants, bars, a disco and a library + two permanent exhibitions of the Museum of Banat.
We didn’t eat at a restaurant or something and that’s only because grandma was expecting us with “sarmale”. In the Romanian cuisine, sarmale is a national dish, and may use cabbage leaves or young leaves of grapes rolled around a filling usually based on minced meat. Yummy
The next day we woke up early in the morning and went straight to Bucharest, but we surely enjoyed this small escape.
See you next year or hopefully sooner, Timisoara!
Until next time,
- Our stay in Timisoara: 01.06.2017 – 04.06.2017
- Bucharest –> Timisoara: 550 km by car (1100 km in total)
- Accommodation: Grandma ^^
- Total: 100 Euros – gasoline