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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

A Walk In the City Centre – Tour 1

25 Aug

The settlement was formed soon after 1000 AD by the Hungarian king. The fortress was conquered in 1552 by the Turks and in 1716 a major change was brought  by Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy. The city developed rapidly in the hands of the Habsburgs and than during the economic boom as well. The first electrical street light was introduced here, in Timisoara. 

In the 18th century, to keep the Turks away a large fortress  with nine bastions and three fortification walls was built. 1,5 km away from the fortress three neighbourhoods were pushed: Fabric, Iosefin, Elisabetin.

Libertatii Square was the second fortress of Timisoara. The new city with new fortifications  in 1732 and 1761 needed a modern fortress, much larger than the old one.

The Timisoara Garrison Command (“New Generalate” – 1727).

 

Mary-Nepomuk monument was started by the famous Raphel Donner, but the work was finished by Wasserburger and Blimm. It is made in the typical style of Viennes Baroque.

The Military Casino is an elegant building, common for the late Baroque and rococo styles.

The Old City Hall, built as the “German community hall” in 1731, was rebuilt several times until it received its nowadays eclectic appearance, in 1853. The large room upstairs was a famous ballroom in the city, in the 18th century.

 

Public Hospital probably was the first public hospital in the Habsburg Empire (older than the Allgemaines Krankenhaus in Vienna).

The church of Misericordian monks, built between 1748 and 1753, today  is a Greek-Catholic church.

The Cetate Synagogue, built between 1863 and 1865in the so-called “Moorish architecture” style which prevailed in the building of Mosaic temples in the Empire.

Nicolas Lenau High School with instruction in German. In this building there was the first theater.

Information about the second part of the tour of the city centre is coming soon!

By Anna Smierzchalska

The Annual Navy Day Celebration, or something like that…

19 Aug

Last Wednesday, the 15 of August, I went to the most official event of Timisoara I have been at so far. I got up super early, at 9 AM or something, to be in time at the ship D’Arc de la Podul Tineretii. Because that day was the third annual Navy day (according to google translate and timisoreni).

This Navy day was a special one, it was 280 years ago that on this very canal, the Bega Canal, the first ship ever set sail to ‘Pancevo’. To celebrate this, a commemorative plate was officially dedicated and revealed by important people. Which leads me to the main problem I had with this event, everything was in Romanian! Besides a lot of ‘Timisoara’ ‘mulţumesc’ two ´Olanda´ and one ´Rotterdam´ (which made me verry proud as a dutchmen!) I was having a rather hard time understanding anything that was being said.

Somehow that didn’t make it less interesting. It was a really impressive event. Lots of people gathered, young kids, young couples, old people and a lot of officials. Both men and women in uniform where all over the place. Of course, the Honor Guard was present, aswell as the Banat Infantry Brigade 18 and a military orchestra.

The nicest thing about this was that I couldn’t rely on the words that where spoken to the audience. I had to be guided by there movements of the crowd. When everyone went to the left, I walked to the left, when we went to the water, I followed obediently. It felt more like a game then an official event because of this. And, of course, the sunny weather and an ice cold cola helped me to relax a lbit too!

I got to see a little of the navy traditions of a different country, I’m sure I heard the Romanian National Anthem somewhere along the way, and I can promise you it was definitely worth the effort it took to get out from my bed that early. So a tip for you guys for the next year, set your alarms, bring your video camera’s, follow the crowd and I promise you, you will enjoy yourselves to the max!

For more pictures: www.timisoara2021.tumblr.com

By Leon Kuipers

Fabric district – trip

15 Aug

Fabric district’s past was directly influenced by the Bege RIver. Until 1907, through Fabric was flowing not one Bega – but several. Several old, natural river branches were left here intentionally not canalized, and also a few additional canals was to set going the small industry that began to emerge here in the eighteenth century, especially the dozens of mills. In 1907-19010, the channels were leveled, some becoming streets – on the neighborhood map one can see that the Fabric has a far more disordered street structure than the other neighborhoods; therefore the  explanation lies in the former branches of the river Bega.

We start at Decebal Brige – (1909-1910, Engineer Mihailich Gyözö, architect Krössy Albert K.) originally called the “park street brige”. Being built in the authentic Secession style, this is the most elegant and well preserved bridge in Timisoara. Because of its reinforced concrete building, with one opening, it was considered an innovative technical achievment at European level.

Close by there are the Neptun Baths (initially Hungaria Baths, 1912-1914), a beautiful head of perspective for those coming from the bridge. the building was built by the famous architect Szekely.

On this right is the oldest park in the city – the People’s Park and Regina Maria Park. The entrance is under a gate built in the same style as the bridge, even the park’s fence matching this  Secession ensemble. In the park is also the former Apollo Cinema, which was recently modified, preserving however the facade from the middle of the 20th century.

Near the Neptun Baths there is  Szekely Palace, built by the architect for his mother – surprisingly he left out here many of his favorite forms, so that the building falls well into the “Viennese Secession” – much more reserved in decorations and more geometric.

At no. 2 there is Karl Kunz Palace (1902-1903). Although the  lion and the female sculptures that used to ornate the the house’s corner have disappeared, it still preserves some some beautiful women heads.

At Haymann Palace we can see the female figures and the golden lyres on the 2nd floor.

In contrast, at Anheuer Palace the style is rather “outdated” having Neo-Baroque elements.

The most ornate is however Miksa Steiner Palace, on the upper floors you can even you can see a boat’s bow  and stern.

At no. 11A we find the Archduke’s House, which was the first house having two floors to be built in Fabric.

At the end of the park, in a small square in the right, the Synagogue in Fabric is seen. It was built beteween 1897 and 1899 ( architect Lipot Baumhorn, builder Josef Kermer ) in Secession stylewith Moorish, neo-Gothic and neo-Roman elements.


On the right we soon eneter the Romanilor Square with Millennium Church. The monumental Church was built to celebrate 1000 years of Hungarian settlement in the Pannonia Plain, between 1896 and 1901 by architect Ludwig von Ybl. The style is eclectic-historicist, with neo-Gothic and neo-Roman elements. The towes on the facade measure 65 meters. The stained glass windows are special, the altar paintingis signed by Vastagh György and organ is created by the famous Timisoara workshop Wegenstein.

Close by, there is Stefania Palace, recognizable because of corner tower, on which there is a halberdier in armor. The building is very elegant, on the facade facing the boulevard one seeing representations of bears and gorillas, reasonnfor which it was know as “house with monkey”. It was built by the City Hall between 1909 and 1910 ( architekt Szekely L.) as a tenement house.

Next placeis Fabric’s district current center: Train Square, which was designed and approved as the “main square in Fabric” by imperial military engineers around 1740.  Although it was far from its today appearance: apart from the church “in the square” there were only houses similar to those from the countryside, with narrow frontons and gardens between them. It is also  a very picturesque ensemble. Over time it was very economical area, dominated by craft guilds. Although in the Fabric district it was initially sought to seperate in space on religious and ethic criteria, in the nineteenth century here lived Romanans, Germans, Serbians, Hebrews and Hungarians alike.

The square’s most important element is the Serbian Church dedicated to St. George. Built between 1745 and 1755 as a modest Baroque church, in 1890 the tower had to be raised in order to keep pace with other buildings in the Square.

Linked to the church is the obelisk, which was focus of the feast of Epiphany. The tallest building on the left front of the front of the market is Mercur Palace (1908-1909) or “House with Mercur“because of the Roman commerce god representation on the corner of the building.

From Traian Square we go right on Stefan cel Mare St. On both sides there larger or smaller buildings in the 1900s architecture style. A modern appearance is the new headquarters of Electrica Banat S.A. at the intersection with Pestalozzi St. Across the street there is the building complex of the brewery.

By Anna Śmierzchalska and  Klaudia Skibińska

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