Timișoara: The city which survived a revolution
January 1, 1970
When I tell people about Timișoara I usually just say “a city in Romania”. It’s a pretty touristic place although no one who I’ve ever told about it knew this name. So why did I fall in love with Timișoara? It’s a long story.
It all started in the US where I met a Romanian girl and we became very close. She told me a little about her country and I decided to visit it one day. I’ll skip all the unnecessary details and we will move straight to the train which was taking us from Bulgaria to Romania in February 2015 (notes about trains: if you’re a fan of comfort you’d better choose some other way of transportation. I wasn’t shocked or anything like that, but I’m Russian I’ve seen worse. It would also help to have someone speaking Bulgarian and Romanian for that matter with you at the times of crossing borders).
We got to Timișoara safely (despite a very, very long trip) and got to my friend’s dorm. There I should have given them a credit – it was clean and quite new, neither plaster was falling from the ceiling nor cockroaches were trying to show off from every corner. With help of my Romanian friend we (I still haven’t said there were four of us, have I? A Russian, a Bulgarian, a Romanian and an American, a crazy combination I know) felt very welcomed at her place.
The next day we went out to get to know the city. I’d read a little about the city’s history before we started our sightseeing trip. So when I saw “it” I knew exactly that it was Metropolitan Cathedral. The one from where the 1989 revolution started. Ever since I’ve seen it, it has always seemed charming to me. It was like a personification of the strength of people who decided to fight for their future and won. When I looked at it I recalled the image and stories I’ve read about Ceausescu being chased by his own people. In other words – the cathedral impressed me.
We continued our walk through the city. There was a nice alley which leaded from the cathedral to the Opera House in front of which a little square always full of pigeons is located. That day we saw not everything but the biggest part of a city. The great thing about Timișoara – it should be very green in spring and summer. There are a huge amount of parks and a garden, the most famous one, I think, is “Roses Park”. Obviously we haven’t seen any roses in February.
My friend said there was nothing to do in the city for more that than two days. Well, that really wasn’t true. The city is small indeed but such a short period of time wouldn’t let us see all the huge squares paved with cubes and adorable buildings made in the best traditions of Eastern Europe.
There are several museums in Timișoara, but we shamefully only visited one. It was a museum of revolution (I think I just like revolution this why all related to it caught my attention). The facade of a building looked very shabby and decayed; when we entered we discovered that the inside part was exactly the same. No one made us pay for a ticket, moreover the gatekeeper was really surprised to see us there. What we saw there took my breath away – more than five rooms full of revolution’s history step by step. There were pictures, photographs, drawing and written stories. It was a full and complete story of one of the most important events in modern history of Romania. Later I asked locals about that museum and everyone said they’ve never even visited the place. Maybe they were just fed up with listening the same story for their whole life. Anyway, if you ever go to Timișoara you shouldn’t miss it.
We spent about five days wandering in the city and discovering interesting construction, knowing different people and soaking up the spirit of a country. Eventually time to leave came in. The airport is located 30 minutes away from the city and it’s easy to get there with a bus. I didn’t have any problems leaving Romania, although the other time when I was flying in the brave customers officers didn’t want to let me in. I was interrogated as if I were some kind of criminal who just escaped from prison. Typical situation. It was fun though.
So why am I in love with Timișoara? Not sure what I love more, the cathedral or the city itself. Just kidding. To me Timișoara is very modest and discreet yet beautiful and very cultural. You won’t ever pay stratospheric money going to a cafe or a restaurant but the personnel will treat you better than in a fancy saloon in France. The streets are clean and well equipped for bikers and the public transportation is working just fine. Timișoara is keeping pace with Western Europe’s cities in many aspects but it won’t ever brag about it. That’s why I like it so much.
Some remarks which don’t fit into the main text but I really want to share them with you:
- If you like art house you should see the movie called “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”. It doesn’t show exactly Timișoara but you can see the image of Romania in 80es when it still wasn’t a European country. Despite the fact that the movie is very dark and heavy (plus my friend said I was crazy and no one should ever watch it) it left me completely thrilled and emotional. Totally recommended.
- The Opera House is absolutely fantastic. We went there to see a play “White nights”. It was based on Dostoevsky’s story. I didn’t understand a single word they were saying but I read the story before so I knew what was happening.
- The best time to visit Timișoara is a spring time. When it’s not too hot and everything is blossoming. I was there twice – in February and in January. Still worth it.
Places to see in Timișoara:
- Metropolitan Cathedral
- Union Square
- Victory Square
- Children’s park
- Roses park
- Liberty Square
- Museum of Revolution
- Opera House
Places to go to in Timișoara:
- BIOfresh restaurant (it’s a vegetarian place, the food is delicious and variety is great)
- Cafeneaua verde
- Cafe Colt
- Jack’s Bistro (this was my recent discovery and so far the most favorite; the place is cozy and warm, they only serve beverages (tea and coffee are really good) and donuts. The host is a cute dog named Jack. The staff is friendly and they speak perfect English)
There are many more places to go to and things to see I just listed the ones I liked the most.