Updated in November 2020.
You might have already heard of Timișoara, the multicultural Western Romanian city, one of those places you always meant to visit. Or this could be your first time reading about the place that’s going to be one of the European Cultural Capitals of 2023. Initially, Timișoara was supposed to hold this title in 2021, together with Elefsina in Greece and Novi Sad in Serbia, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, all events were postponed. However, here are 5 things you should not miss in Timișoara, but, for sure, there are lots more.
The Art Nouveau buildings
Just like Oradea, Timișoara boasts lots of Art Nouveau / Secessionist buildings. Whether you stroll the city or you want to check its architecture in more depth—Heritage of Timișoara might be of great help in this case—you’re very likely to bump into some exquisite pieces of work. Some buildings have already been restored, such as the Brück House below, while some are still waiting their turn.
I know. Each city has its parks, but Timișoara has lots of them—no wonder it’s called “the city of parks” or “the city of flowers”—plus, they’re huge, and seem to be the locals’ pride and joy. Rozelor, Botanic, Alpinet, Bihor, Carmen Sylva, Central, Dacia, Copiilor, Justiției, Plevnei, Poporului are just a few of them. According to the city hall, Timișoara hosts 22 parks and public gardens, looks like it’s very hard to miss them.
Let me tell you something. People of Timișoara must love their festivals, I stopped counting at 25, but there were lots more. The most renowned is Plai—considered one of the most relevant world music and art festivals in Europe—started in 2006 by a group of generous volunteers. The festival has not only grown a lot since, in both scope and the number of participants, but has added adjacent projects, all supported by volunteers. The International Literature Festival, Jazz TM, Early Music Festival, Ceau Cinema, Opera and Operetta Festival, Ethnic Minorities Festival are just some other interesting ones, but, really, there’s something for everyone.
Art Encounters Biennial
The Art Encounters Foundation is an independent art institution established in 2015, aiming to support the Romanian art scene by promoting artistic production, exhibitions, publications, workshops and educational activities. The Biennial is a mix between an experimental art festival and a contemporary art biennial. 2019 marks its third edition, and will take place between September 20 and October 27, continuing its mission of engaging the audience in debating the main topics of today’s society and creating a platform for the cultural exchange. This year the focus is on the local heritage and the exploration of Timișoara’s different facets.
Scârț Loc Lejer
Scârț (1, Laszlo Szekely Street) is an emblematic place for the underground culture in Timișoara. A cultural hub opened in an old house, Scârț has multiple functions. The basement hosts the nonconformist Communist Consumers Museum, opened in 2015, displaying lots of specific objects of the era, from porcelain trinkets and crochet doilies, which used to adorn all the communist apartments, to furniture, books, radios, dolls and toys. The ground floor is a bar, also decorated with communist paraphernalia and odd posters, and a theatre space for the Auăleu company. The large garden adds to the charm of the place, especially in the long summer days and nights.
Also, while in Timișoara, you might want to:
- plan a trip to Gărâna, 2 hours by car from Timișoara, for the Gărâna Jazz Festival (in July each year);
- join other runners, joggers, or complete beginners and run for fun and a good cause at Timotion;
- visit La Două Bufnițe independent bookshop (11, Unirii Square), for a varied selection of books in Romanian and foreign languages, book launches and lots of literary events.
Featured image: Andrei Moțiu / flickr