Timişoara and Cluj-Napoca: Two cosmopolitan Romanian towns
November 26, 2008
Start exploring Timisoara, located on the northern bank of the Bega River in western Romania, in Union Square. The square is dominated by the Roman Catholic and Serbian Orthodox cathedrals that face each other. On the square’s south side is the 18th-century baroque palace that houses the Museum of Fine Arts, which showcases works by Flemish, German and Italian artists.
The cathedrals aren’t the only architectural marvels on the square. Others include the Nicolas Lenau College, home to the city’s first theater, the Art Nouveau Scont Bank and many historic pastel buildings.
Behind Union Square is the Memorial Museum of the 1989 Revolution. The memorial’s exhibits include an extensive collection of Romanian militia and military uniforms. A short stroll down the road is the Banat Ethnographic Museum, which houses collections of textiles, costumes and painted glass idols in the city’s oldest building.
Typical souvenirs — blouses, skirts and tablecloths with intricate embroidery — can be purchased at several stores on Victory Square.
For a side trip, travel by bus 12 miles east to the Reca Vineyards, where tourists can taste white, red and rose wines as well as see the cellars and learn about wine-making.
In the city of Cluj-Napoca, the university-filled Union Square features the 14th-century Gothic St. Michael’s Church, boasting impressive stained-glass windows, a star-shaped vault, striking sculptures and well-preserved murals.
Next to St. Michael’s sits Banffy Palace, once the residence of the Austro-Hungarian governors and now home of the Cluj National Museum of Art. The museum holds displays of sculptures, weapons, furniture, carpets and paintings among its 22 halls.
Other landmarks within the square include the Hotel Continental, which was a German military headquarters during World War II.
Other sites include the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania, which offers a large indoor collection of photos, art, pottery, textiles; an open-air park; and the National History Museum of Transylvania, housing exhibits highlighting local history from the Paleolithic times.
The Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden, home to about 10,000 plant species, is a popular destination. Take a stroll through the grounds that offer greenhouses, a Japanese garden, Roman garden and museum.
In the evenings, enjoy a concert at the Philharmonic Hall, or take the children to see a marionette show at the Puck Puppet Theater.
— Compiled by Heather Klinglesmith from travel Web site