Why You Need to Visit Timișoara, Romania

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Piata Unirii Union Square
Content created from a press trip

Hey Owlets,

Timișoara has been announced as the European Capital for Culture in 2021. If you're like me your first thought was "where on Earth is that?!" closely followed by "why?" - I know when I saw the itinerary for my Romania trip both of those questions popped into my head in pretty fast succession. By the time we arrived I still had no idea what to expect, but Timișoara quickly became my favourite place of our entire road trip across Romania - it's absolutely one of the best places to visit in Romania, and here's why.

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Piata Unirii Union Square

Amazing Culture

Timișoara sits a short distance from the Hungarian border in the Banat region of Romania - actually it sits pretty close to the border of more than one country which has had an amazing effect on the city's culture. Banat is almost like a country within a country - despite being part of Romania you notice how different it is from the minute you arrive. The photo above is taken in Piata Unirii, or Union Square is a quiet square with a lot of history. Throughout the years this city has been home (either through migration or invasion) to Spanish, Greeks, French, Hungarian, Serbian, German and Dutch people to name a few, and as you go around the square you can see the mark that each nationality has left with each building looking slightly different, leaving behind a patchwork square that makes you feel like you're standing on the edge of the world. Because of this you can find each culture's influence on music, art and just about everything else throughout the city.

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Casa Bunicii Banat Cuisine

Unique Food

Banat is one of the most multicultural regions in Romania, and of course this is reflected in the food. Being so close to the Hungarian and Serbian borders saw the Banat cuisine develop over the course of a few decades - women would swap recipes with their neighbours, often from different countries, and would add their own touches to it to make it their own. Over the years these recipes have gotten mixed up through the different cultures and become it's own cuisine; this means you're unlikely to see the same food anywhere else in the world. It's also not uncommon for Banat people to speak four or five languages, which goes to show how much different cultures integrated in the area.

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Revolution Memorial

Learn More

Timișoara was the first place to be declared free from communism and is where the revolution started, when people protested that their priest had been taken from the local church. The trams were stopped by protesters blocking the path so the passengers disembarked to see what was happening and the revolution started. In the centre of Timișoara there's a memorial to the revolution inside an old army building. When we went inside we sat down and were spoken to by the guide who grew up during the communist era - it wasn't until we got halfway around the museum that he pointed to a photo on the wall and said "that's me - I was shot on the second day, that's why I walk with a cane". I know he must tell the story multiple times a day but it came out in such a matter of fact tone that it caught us all off-guard. As he guided us through the exhibits he pointed at pictures, told us the names of the people in them, his connection to them and their fate. There are some places in the world where the history is so strong you can feel it - I didn't expect Timișoara to be one of those places but you couldn't help but be moved. It was understandably difficult for our Romanian guides - several of who walked out with tears in their eyes- but what I didn't expect was for a lot of us to feel the same when we hadn't lived through it. It truly is one of those places that you have to visit while you have the chance to learn from those who experienced communism and the revolution first hand.

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Changing of the Guard Piata Unirii Union Square

Take Part in Romanian Traditions

Besides being the birthplace of the revolution Timișoara has a lot more history to explore, and a lot of traditions that are still performed today. Each Saturday afternoon the changing of the guard takes place in front of the palace in Union Square, which is a theatrical reenactment of something that used to take place in 1700s. I realise that's pretty vague, but honestly it's because I had absolutely no idea what was going on; it's all in Romanian, there's lots of shouting and nobody spoke enough English to explain anything, but they fire a giant cannon. bang drums and wear historical costumes so it's pretty cool to see anyway - helpful, aren't I?

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Crama Aramic Romanian Wine

Try Local Wines

Among other surprising facts (Romania is one of the biggest producers of watermelons, bet you didn't know that either) Romania is known for producing excellent quality wines, particularly white wines. Of course, knowing this, it would've been rude not to give it a try and we were lucky enough to get to visit a beautiful vineyard not far from the city that produced Crama Aramic wines. While they've won prestigious awards for their wine they are one of many producers in the region, so if you like your wine Banat is an excellent region to spend your time in.

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Tourist Tram

They Welcome Tourists

One thing I found surprising was just how well set up the city is to handle tourists - I suppose when you think about it it makes sense if they're going to be the European Capital of Culture, but it didn't occur to me at the time. As you walk through the streets you can find multiple tourist information offices, the locals are all friendly and ready to help, there's an abundance of walking tours in the city (some free, some not), and there's even a tourist tram with a bar on board that tells people about the history of the city - right now the commentary is only in Romanian but they've said they want to introduce English in the next few months. Either way, walking or taking the tourist tram is a great way to see everything you don't want to miss in the city if you only have a short amount of time.

Visit Timisoara Romania European Capital of Culture 2021 Free Walking Tours

If you're looking for somewhere to visit in Romania that isn't the typical touristy trip to Bucharest then Timisoara is definitely where you should go. There's an airport with flights from Bucharest so it's easy to get to with just one connection, there's a lot to see and the people are incredible. Just make sure you're here for a few days because there's no way you'll see everything in 24 hours.

Having been there, I suddenly feel like they couldn't have picked anywhere else to be the European Capital of Culture, it makes total sense. Visit now before the crowds start to descend, because I think it's going to get really popular.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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