Timisoara Top 10

22 Oct

I have to be honest, Romania was not on my original travel itinerary. Had it not been for a very special encounter earlier in Spain, it may have taken me several more years to plan a visit. However, I came, I saw and I am excited to explore more in Romania.

Timisoara was my first contact with Romanian soil. What I really like about this city is, despite being the second largest city in Romania, it has an easy-going vibe and many opportunities to discover new things. 2012 was the first time I ever heard about the city, in spite of it’s historical significance as a crossroads between civilizations. During almost two-months of my stay I have seen very few foreign travelers unlike many other European destinations.

Did you know that Timisoara is that it is the first town in Europe and 2nd in the world after New York City with streets illuminated by electric lights!

I can tell you several reasons why you should consider putting Timisoara on your travel list. Instead, I feel like sharing the things and activities I have enjoyed as a visitor here. There plenty more that can be added to this list and plenty more that I, and others, have yet to discover in Timisoara. For now, let’s explore the city through my top 10:

10. Visit an outdoor market

The stalls range from antiques to modern art, freshly made crepes to artisan honey. You can find a variety of merchandise at the outdoor markets organized in one of the historic squares in Timisoara. Recently, I specially attended one that was called the “Really, Really Free Market“. The market was organized by a collective of socially responsible individuals to promote kindness and the alternative gift economy. And yes, everything was really, really free and top quality. Plus I had a wonderful time making new friends and learning about the local culture.

09. Buy fresh produce

Personally my two favourite spots are Piata 700 and Badea Cartan. It’s wonderful to have easy access to locally produced fruit and vegetables grown by pheasants (term often used for farmers in Romania). I simply love it – you shop in fresh air, buy season produce, choose from one of many farms, and pay less than at the supermarket! Aside from the two markets I mention there are other markets all around the city, making them accessible to everyone.

Piata 700 market

Fresh produce at the Piata 700 market

08. Rediscover the joy of sipping tea and wine

If you’re a tea enthusiast then Carturesti is the place for you but if you’re a wine connoisseur visit Enoteca de Savoya. If you’re anything like me you’ll want to become a regular at both during your stay in Timisoara. At Carturesti you will find a wonderful selection of tea to keep you coming back for months. I usually go to the location near Unirii Square to write but you you can also pick up a book from the bookstore on the lower level as relax. Not far from Carturesti is Enoteca de Savoya. Here you can find a bottle wine from around the world. There’s some excellent wine that’s produced in the region, my favourite is the wine from a place called Recas, some 25 kilometer outside of Timisoara. Find a cozy spot in the cave at Enoteca de Savoya and take the time to experience local wines with a delicious platter of cheese and olives.

07. Lemonade in Unirii Sqare (Union Square)

Unirii Square is a beautiful baorque plaza surrounded by colourful and unique architecture that house a museum and many cool cafe’s and restaurants to hang out at. The square is filled with historical monuments and artifacts, some of which require a bit of searching, as well as cultural symbolism. For example, you see an orthodox church constructed right across from a beautiful catholic church. From I have been told, this symbolizes the open-mindedness of the people of Timisoara towards religion and respect for different faiths. Oh, and that lemonade – you can find it at almost any of the cafe’s here but be prepared to make decisions. Only in Romania you find several choices for lemonade flavours; my favourite is the lemonade with forest fruit.

Unirii Squarw

Life on Unirii Square

06. Visit the countryside

Timisoara is surrounded by some interesting countryside. A local friend once told me about the discoveries he’s made by cycling to several, inhabited and abandoned, villages nearby. A village I discovered and really like is called Stanciova, about 35 kilometers north-east of Timisoara. I found Stanciova through an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (Wwoof) while I was looking for volunteering opportunities at nearby organic farms. I have met some incredible people in Stanciova dedicated to building a strong community based on fairness, care and respect for people and planet. I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to experience inspiring discussions on community development with the people here. It’s amazing what you find when you choose to go off the beaten path.

Stanciova Horse Carriage

Horse carriage in Stanciova

05. People watching in Victory Square

Whenever I am looking for creative inspiration or just clear my head I visit Victory Square. With beautiful flower beds and sculptures tastefully sandwiched between the Opera and the magnificent Orthodox Cathedral, it’s the ideal promenade for people to socialize. The view of the cathedral from the opera is my favourite in Timisoara and one of the most cherished in all the world. Victory Square is one of the best spots to witness life as-it-happens. I have seen people from all generations come here to meet, celebrate, share, teach, create, and even cry. The plaza always seems to be the scene of formal or spontaneous activities. Strolling around here can also works up an appetite for ice cream or sweet and savoury pasteries. I also discovered the best shawarma’s outside the Arabian peninsula here aswell!

Victory Square, Timisoara

People watching in Victory Square

04. Discover the parks of Timisoara

Timisoareans will tell you that there’s not enough green space in Timisoara. I don’t really agree with that, though I also don’t argue that there could be more. I love the parks scattered all around the city. Sometimes you just have to get off the main road or walk through a, not-so-obvious, gate to find one of the very well maintained public green spaces. There’s 4 interconnected parks, Parcul Andrei Mocioni, Parcul Copiilor, Parcul Rozilor, Parcul Central right along the Bega Canal that I run across at least once a week. The Botanical Garden and the Regina Maria Park that are also worth a special mention and a definite visit. There are several more parks in various neighbourhoods all across the city with interesting art and monuments around them. It’s always wonderful to see children and people young and old being outdoors and taking advantage of these beautiful spaces.

Regina Maria Park

Regina Maria Park, Timisoara

03. Opera in the Park

I was lucky to have arrived during the Festival of Opera and Operetta towards the end of this past summer. The magnificent sets and stage were setup outdoors in the Rose Park (Parcul Rozilor) with large and comfortable outdoor seating for the audience. I happen to catch Georges Bizet’s “Carmen“. Beautiful costumes, superb lighting and sound quality, an excellent performance, all made it the perfect night out in the city with a wonderful companion. Aside from the Festival of Opera, there always seems to be an art project or initiative in the city – everything from the classical to the contemporary, literary to performing arts.

02. Mass at the Orthodox Cathedral

I am not religious, yet whenever I needed spiritual guidance my feet guided me to the Orthodox Cathedral on the far end of the Victory Square in Timisoara. When I saw the cathedral for the first time I imagined it to be a fairy tale castle with it’s colourful spires in conical and pyramidal shapes. The cathedral is the tallest church in Romania and the 8th tallest Orthodox Cathedral in the world[1]. It’s interior is just as magnificient as it’s external architecture – high ceiling with walls adorned with traditional orthodox art and a grandiose gold altar. There’s a warm, spiritual essence that can felt inside the cathedral. The scent of incense and candles along with soft sounds of prayer carry you in to a deep meditative state where you can find the serenity and peace, however clamorous your day may be.

Orthodox Cathedral by night

Orthodox Cathedral by night, Timisoara

01. Run, walk or kayak along the Bega Canal

As an active person I like environments that connect me to nature and people while engaging in sporting activities. Back in Ottawa, I have the trails of Gatineau Park and the Rideau Canal. In Timisoara there’s the Bega Canal that runs through the entire, east-west, length of the city cutting through the center and connecting 4 parks. My favourite activity is to run through 3 of the parks all along the Bega, while watching/experiencing local life. Walking, specially during the fall season can be inspiring, invigorating and a romantic experience. There’s also the option of renting a bicycle or get right on to the water with a kayak, a paddle boat, or go fishing. If you really don’t feel active you can find a quite bench to sit and read or visit one of the bar and cafe’s on either side of the canal. Bega has a lot to offer and that’s why it’s number one on my list.

Bega Canal

Early morning on the Bega Canal, Timisoara

——

Urooj Qureshi, living-being.comUrooj Qureshi is an Adventurer & Social Entrepreneur. Born in Pakistan, Urooj has lived most of his life in Ottawa, Canada, a place he calls home. He has travelled to over 35 countries across 4 continents and the list continues to grow rapidly as he is now traveling to meet the people of the world, discover new places, and lend a hand wherever it’s needed.

Follow Urooj’s journey on
www.living-being.com.

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The Iosefin district

10 Sep

Today we will discover architectural jewels in the Iosefin district. Dramatic development of this historic area was in the second half of the nineteenth century, because here and in nearby Elisabeth district were the city’s railway station and port. You can start a walk at the Bridge Trajan. Beyond the bridge you will notice the image of city with old buildings, which seem to go on forever.

The Timiş-Bega Hydro-Improvement Society Palace.
The building has 1900s architecture style, is decorated (among others) with representations of fish.

The Marschall Place was designed by architekt Martin Gemeinhardt. The building belongs to the 1900s style, the Art Nouveau eclectic movement. The unique façade represents elements: the “the tree of life”, stylized butterflies, typical Gothic flower elements.

St. Maria Monument – a local legend says, that monuments commemorates the place of execution the head of the peasant uprising of 1514, Gheorghe Doja. To the monks who sang religious hymns near the dying man appeared Virgin Mary’s face.
The monument was created by sculptor György Kiss and architect László Syékely. It was built in the 1900s style with Neo-Romanic and Gothic elements.

The Reformed Community’s Palace (1901-1902) The building houses the parish house and the church. The building’s appearance corresponds to the 1900s architecture with elements inspired by the Neo-Gothic movement. The building was dominated by the sharp forms of the roof elements, in the corners.

The Romanian Orthodox Church. It was designed by architect Professor Victor Vlad and built between 1931 and 1936. It is part of the string of churches built after 1918, which marked the rupture with Baroque architecture practiced by the Orthodox during the Habsburg monarchy, seeking inspiration in Byzantine forms. The appearance of building was inspired by architecture of the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople.

The Iosefin Synagogue was built in 1895. It is the only one functional synagogue in Timişoara. Building’s form has the eclectic character and it has also Neo-Gothic and Moorish elements.

Albert Schott Palace was built between 1911 and 1913. It was the first building with three levels in Iosefin, until Hochstrasser Palace. The building stands on luliu Maniu Street.

Alexandru Pisică Palace The architectural pearl stands out by the attic with wavy froms, which was made in the manner of Budapest architect Ödön Lechner. The building built between 1911 and 1912. It is situated on Preyer Street (with a front on Iuliu Maniu Street too).

Place on the Regele Carol I Boulevard. The building expresses by decorative elements in the Secession style.

By Klaudia Skibińska

Unirii Square – trip

6 Sep

In this part of the architectural tour we will visit around the Unirii Square.
Dome Square was a real vision of Viennese court.


The Serbian Cathedral build between 1744 and 1748. The exterior bears the imprint of the Baroque and Neoclassicism. The main façade is predominantly Classicist with some Baroque elements. Typical of this style is the façade rhythm done with Doric pilasters on the ground floor, Ionic on the first floor and Corinthian on the second floor.




The Serbian Vicariate, with highly elaborated ornaments, made in the Art Nouveau style, but interpreted in a special manner. Currently, it is renewed. It has a rich collection of bibliophily and art (18th to 19th century Orthodox religious art collection).

The Former Discount Bank has ceramic ornaments made of colored glazed that indicate the Hungarian Secession – Szeceszio. This “Timişoara’s jewel of elegance” reminiscent little of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi’s style.


The Holy Trinity monument is related to grim plauge, that haunted Timisoara during 1738 to 1739.

House with lions


“Little” Lenau High School – In 1995 and 1996, the today façades are made in a simplified historicist style by architect Lucia Pfaff. Nikolaus Lenau was a great German poet born in Ciatad, today Lenauheim village, in Banat.


The Canons’ Houses – that Is the series of four classicist houses.


The Dome (the Episcopate Roman Cathedral of Banat Diocese). Work began under Carol VI in 1736, ending in 1774. It is construction involved famous architects from Vienna, like Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. The main altar’s painting, signed by Michael Angelo Unterberger.


The Baroque Palace built in 1752.It was the most luxurious building in the city. Austrian Baroque, with some Rococo details.
Today it houses Art Museum, its worth to visiting also to see well restored interiors with stylish stairs.

Dicasterial Palace was made in the style of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. People from Timişoara used to say about this building that it “has one window for each day of the year”. In reality, the Dicasterial Palace has over 400 windows.


The Evangelical or Lutheran Church built between 1837 adn 1839. The Lutheran community is made of Germans, Hungarians, Slovaks and Romanians, and the religious service is held in all these language.


Theresia Bastion is one of the nine bastions of the city. Then in contemporary interior of bastion is gallery and restaurant.


See you on the next architecture trip!

By Anna Śmierzchalska

Rose Park – “City of Flowers”

4 Sep

Rose Park is a park next to the Bega Canal. It’s one of the many parks Timisoara is famous for, hence Timisoara’s nickname: the city of flowers. In my opinion, Rose Park is the very reason for this nickname! This park was heavily subsidized by the authorities to become on of the prettiest parks I’ve seen in my life. This garden does not only house a great variety of flowers, decorative art pieces and pergolas, but it also has a huge stage and hundreds of fixed seats.

And the best part of this park is, the stage and seats aren’t just for show, the park houses amazing events for the entire city. It really is more than just a park, it’s a gathering spot for various cultural events of Timisoara: Inimilor Festival, Outdoor Cinema Festival, Opera and Operetta Festival etc.

This park has a nice form of symbiosis, both human and nature are making this garden a touristic spot every tourist should go to!

By Leon Kuipers

Cărtureşti: Fascinating World Of Books

2 Sep

When you enter a regular book store, you never expect to see there something else but books. But Cărtureşti Book Store, located at Iulius Mall,  is another story. It is a book store of a new generation. Of course, this place has a huge variety of books of all genres for people of different ages. Of course, the consultants are very friendly and always ready to help. But what makes Cărtureşti so different from another book stores?

Cărtureşti Book Store is really something special! It is something between a book store, a library and a cafe.  Here you can not only buy a book you like but also you can read it and drink a tea in a very pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. The variety of tea tastes is huge. Be ready to spend a lot of time on picking the one! Cărtureşti can help you to forget about the hectic world around you, have a rest, usefull for both your soul and brain,  and to plunge into a fascinating world of books! Want to start reading a new book? Just come and do it in Cărtureşti. You are always welcome! And it doesn´t matter whether a book you read is for study or just for pleasure. For sure, in every case, it will be a nice experience! Let your dreams, imagination and ideas flow in Cărtureşti Book Store!

Opening hours of Cărtureşti Iulius Mall: Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 22:00

Don´t forget to visit another Cărtureşti Book Store, located in the city centre in Str. Mercy, nr. 7.

Opening hours of Cărtureşti Mercy:  Monday – Friday 10:00 – 21:00, Saturday 11:00 – 20:00

For more information visit the official Facebook page of Cărtureşti book store: http://www.facebook.com/Carturesti.TM

By Oleksandra Karavan

Prospero Delicii!

31 Aug

A chain bakery/cafe, Prospero Delicci has multiple locations in Timisoara.  The one frequented by students is a quick 5 minute walk away from the West University Dorms, great for a quick coffee to wake you up before class.

Their food selection includes cakes, different sorts of bread, caffeinated as well as fruit drinks, and ice cream too if desired!  Their choices of confectionaries and breads varies on what time you go to the bakery.  I would recommend going early morning before 11AM, when there are more cakes available and the breads baked are at their freshest.  I’ve come here a number of times, and I’ve tried quite a variety of their foods.  My favorites so far would have to be their pizza bread and their ‘Incredible Chocolate’ brownie.  

Service here is fast and friendly and English-speaking.  There are areas both inside and outside where you can settle down to read a book or surf the web with their free wifi!  A pleasant and clean atmosphere overall- I would recommend a visit for those who are looking for a more westernized establishment.  A 3.5/5 stars from me!

By Claudine Chua

Timisoara Opera and Operetta Festival

28 Aug

Almost all of us have an experience of watching opera in the Opera House or other in-door theatres. But how many of you have an experience of watching opera at an open-air stage? Citizens and visitors of the city of Timisoara, for sure, have such a great experience!

This weekend, the 24th-26th August, the eighth annual “Opera and Operetta Festival” took place in the Rose Park. Professional singers from different countries and a professional orchestra crew performed “Land of Smiles” by F. Lehar, “Rigoletto” by G. Verdi, “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss and “Star Glass” children opera at the open-air stage. The festival gathered more than 1000 viewers. Everyone could enjoy spectacular opera and operetta performances during these warm summer evenings.

Are you interested and excited about the event? Then don´t miss your chance to enjoy opera and operetta performances next weekend, the 31st August – 2nd September. “Carmen” by G. Bizet, “Gypsy Baron” by Johann Strauss and Gala Concert of Opera, Operetta and Ballet will be performed for you in the Rose Park. For sure, this festival is worth to see!

By Fung Sheung Yee and Oleksandra Karavan

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