Timișoara, the largest city in western Romania, has been influenced by many cultures. Romans, Turks, Austrians, Germans and Serbs, all left their mark, and their influence can be seen all around the city even today. The first records of the city, built on the site of an ancient Roman fortress, date back to 1212.
Settled on the northern bank of the Bega River, this city offers a distinct architecture and vibrant cultural life. It is also known as “Little Vienna” thanks to many musical and theatrical performances, art galleries, museums and an active nightlife.
Timișoara was the first city in Europe and second in the world after New York, to use electricity to illuminate its public streets (1884).
It is quite easy to explore Timișoara on foot. Thanks to its mild climate, it has many public squares and green parks full of flowers, ideal to take a short break from sightseeing.
- The Notre Dame Church in Timișoara
- The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary
- Central Park
- The Orthodox Cathedral
- Victory Square
- The Wolf
- The Artesian Fountain
- Timisoara’s Opera House
- The Huniade Castle
- Liberty Square
- Cetate Synagogue
- Union Square
- St. George’s Cathedral
- The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
- The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy
- The Brück House
- The Monument of the Holy Trinity
- The Cardinal Points Fountain
- Maria Theresia Bastion
- Fabric Synagogue
- The Millennium Church
Thus, we will start our tour from The Notre Dame Church in Timisoara (Biserica Notre Dame). It was built at the end of the 19th century, combining neo-Romanesque style with two neo-Gothic towers. It currently serves the Catholic community of the Banat Bulgarians.
Following Boulevard 16 Decembrie 1989, we will get to The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (Biserica Nașterea Maicii Domnului Iosefin), an amazing Orthodox church with an unusaual architecture.
It was built between the two world wars (1936), by the architect Victor Vlad in neo-Byzantine style, inspired by the model of St. Sofia Church in Istambul, especially the shape of the dome and the separate bell tower with six bells.
The height of the dome is 24m, and the bell tower is 33m high. The mural paintings, were made in the “fresco bono” style, and the floor is made of white and pink marble.
The boulevard will then take us across the Bega river to the very centre of the city. On our left there is a huge and beautiful Central Park (Parcul Central „Anton Scudier”), one of the oldest parks in Timișoara, established in 1880. It is full of fountains, benches, chess tables, and monuments, including The Monument of the Unknown Soldier or The monument dedicated to the Romanian host (Monumentul Ostașului Român). The controversy related to its name, positioning and inscription on its pedestal, aroused by the political changes over the years.
The plateau in front of it is an important place for the Romanian Army Day, celebrated on October 25-28.
Going further, we will get to Timisoara’s major landmark, a fascinating building of The Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Mitropolitană Ortodoxă), dedicated to the Three Holy Hierarchs, that stands majestic in the heart of the Old Town.
It was built between 1936 and 1941 in neo-Moldavian style, with many Romanian, Orthodox, late Renaissance, Ottoman, and Byzantine architecture elements.
It has 1,542 m2 (16,600 sq ft), and 11 towers, vividly ornamented, of which the central and the highest is 90.5m high, and seven bells, whose sound can be heard throughout the city. Its interior design is equally fascinating with many historic and artistic religious objects.
It is the seat of the Archbishop of Timișoara and Metropolis of Banat.
The Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral sits at the southern end of Victory Square (Piata Victoriei), where the Romanian revolution started in 1989. In front of the cathedral there is a monument memorializing revolutionaries who perished in 1989.
Victory Square (formerly Opera Square) lies between the astonishing façades of the cathedral and Timișoara’s Opera House in the north, as an ideal place for coffee lovers and romantics.
Its center is full of flowers and pigeons with a famous monument of The Wolf Statue (Lupoaica cu puii), set high on a pedestal, which is a replica of the Capitoline Wolf (Lupa Capitolina). It was a gift received in the 1920s from Rome in recognition of Romania’s Latin origin.
Another landmark located in this square is The Artesian Fountain, also known as the Fish Fountain, built in 1957.
On the right we will see The Huniade Castle (Castelul Huniade), the oldest monument of Timişoara, built in 1447, over the old royal castle dating from the 14th century.
The castle was rebuilt by the Turks in the 17th century and by Prince Eugene of Savoy in the 18th century, and got its present appearance during the reconstruction in 1850s. It houses the History Section and the Natural Sciences Section of the Banat Museum.
Two lamps in front of the museum are there to remind that Timişoara was the first European town to have introduced electric public lighting in 1884.
Alba Iulia St. will then take us to Liberty Square ( Piața Libertății), another beautiful square of Timişoara, where we will find the old City Hall and the beautiful St. Nepomuk’s Statue. During the Ottoman rule (1552 -1716) this square was its central part, but the subsequent Austrian rulers removed almost all the traces of the Turkish occupation. Fortunately, there are a few surviving elements like a merchant’s house at the southern side of the square, built in 1803, and the imposing Faculty of Music on the northern end, with an Ottoman inscription on the wall, referring to Turkish baths, formerly situated on the square, as well as the outlines of the ruins of the Turkish bath.
On the left of the faculty, there is Cetate Synagogue, one of the most distinctive and original buildings in the city, built between 1863-1865 in Moorish style. It is rectangular with a dome and arches, and two towers on the west side.
Vasile Alecsandri St. will take us to Union Square (Piața Unirii), one of the most beautiful squares in the capital of Banat, made in Baroque style, that hosts many historical buildings and monuments and some of the best restaurants and coffee houses in town.
It hosts beautiful St. George’s Cathedral (the Roman Catholic Cathedral), the Baroque Palace (now a beautiful art gallery), the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, the Monument of the Holy Trinity, the fountain with mineral water and other architectural monuments.
St. George’s Cathedral (Catedrala Sfântul Gheorghe) or The Dome is one of the most valuable buildings of Baroque architecture in Timișoara and the Banat. Its interior is luxurious and expressive, with Rococo elements created by Vienna’s painters and sculptors and the acoustic is amazing.
Even though the exterior of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxa Sarba) doesn’t look so promising regarding to architectural beauty, its interior is, on the contrary, amazingly beautiful. This church was built by the Serbian Orthodox Church for the local Serbian community in the 18th century and is one of the most beautiful Serbian Orthodox churches.
The Palace of the Serbian Episcopacy is Orthodox bishop’s residence.
It was built in the Austrian Baroque style in 1747, then in 1906, the façade was rebuilt in the so-called “neo-Serbian” style, using some traditional details of Serbian and Russian religious architecture.
Recently, it has been renovated and it can be visited inside at certain hours of the day. The building is very important for the Serbian minority in Romania, but it is equally pleasant for all the tourists who visit Unirii Square.
It has a rich Orthodox religious art collection from the 18th and the19th century.
The Brück House (Casa Brück) is an early 20th century Art Nouveau (Secession) style historical monument, standing in the location where a previous, Austrian Baroque style building, known as the Golden Cross Pharmacy, originally stood in the early 1800s.
For more than 100 years, there has always been a pharmacy functioning on its bottom level floor, including the one operating to this day.
The Brück House has a basement, ground floor, and three upper floors, symbolizing, with its impressive height, the separation of the dominant Baroque style of the square.
The building’s façade is covered by a large number of colored ceramic tiles inspired by Hungarian folklore motifs.
The Statue of the Holy Trinity, or “the plague monument” in the middle of Unirii Square, is considered the most beautiful monument of Baroque art in Timişoara. It was sculpted in Vienna between 1739 and 1740 and brought to Timişoara in 1740.
Its base is a pedestal with three sides; on each side there are figurative reliefs representing plague, famine and war. Rich in figurative elements, the statue represents the Virgin Mary, St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of Catholics in Banat, Saint Sebastian with arrows in his chest and St. Rochus with a wounded leg.
Taking George Coșbuc St near the Cathedral, we will leave this beautiful square and get to The Cardinal Points Fountain (Punctele Cardinale) and Maria Theresia Bastion (Bastionul Maria Theresia) right next to it. Named after the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, it is the largest preserved piece of defensive wall of the Austrian-Hungarian fortress of Timișoara. It was built between 1732–1734 Today it houses commercial spaces, restaurants, bars, a disco and a library, and two permanent exhibitions of the Museum of Banat.
Bulevardul Revoluției 1989 and then Bulevardul 3 August 1919, after crossing the Bega river will take us to our final destinations, Fabric Synagogue (Sinagoga din Fabric) and The Millennium Church (Biserica Millenium).
The Fabric New Synagogue was built in Neo-Moorish style in 1838 or in 1841 by the well-known Hungarian architect Lipot Baumhorn, and it is still one of the most impressive buildings in the city, and
The Millennium Church, the largest Roman-Catholic church in Timisoara, was built in the Neo-Romanesque style by Lajos Ybl and sanctified in 1901.
It was built to commemorate 1,000 years since the formation of the Hungarian State, and thus it got the name Millennium.
I hope this itinerary will serve you well! As always, your comments will make me happy!