The Banat province (stretching to three countries: Romania, Serbia and Hungary), has always been one of Europe’s richest multiethnic regions. After great defeat of the Turkish army at the gates of Vienna in the 17th century, the Banat was conquered by the Austrian Empire and remained as part of it until the First World War. In the meantime, the Habsburg rulers designed a plan to rebuild the province, by colonizing different populations, such as the famous German “Banater Schwaben”. Nowadays, the ethnic structure of the province is formed by Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Serbs, Jews, Bulgarians, Slovak etc… The capital of this region is one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, Timişoara.
With over 300.000 inhabitants and a famous university, the city offers one of Romania’s highest living standards. It was also the starting point of the anti communist revolution in December 19819, which ended with the execution of the dictator Ceauşescu and his wife.
We will start our city tour near the Austrian fortifications of the 18th century, built under direct orders from the famous Prince Eugene of Savoy. Only parts of these old important walls have survived the centuries, most of them being destroyed during the big changes brought on by the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the buildings, such as the Lutheran church, still show scars of the many wars which have been fought here. We will discover the main square, with the Catholic cathedral and the “pest monument” (both erected by the famous Viennese architect Fischer von Erlach), the many Jugendstill palaces and the Serbian-Orthodox cathedral and administrative building. Next on our list is the large Neologies Synagogue and the famous “Nikolaus Lenau” high school (one of the few in the world where two Nobel Prize winners have studied). Next to the “Holly Nepomuk Monument” and the old tram lines (Timişoara was one of the first European cities to have one) we will reach the famous “Opera Place”, where most of the anti-communist demonstrations in December 1989 took place. We will end our tour with the visit of the medieval “Corvinus – Castle” and the Romania-Orthodox cathedral, one of Romania’s biggest.