Continuing the Timisoara Top 10 list – my list of things and activities I have enjoyed as a visitor in Timisoara, Romania’s second largest city:
05. People watching in Victory Square
Whenever I am looking for creative inspiration or just clear my head I visit Victory Square. With beautiful flower beds and sculptures tastefully sandwiched between the Opera and the magnificent Orthodox Cathedral, it’s the ideal promenade for people to socialize. The view of the cathedral from the opera is my favourite in Timisoara and one of the most cherished in all the world. Victory Square is one of the best spots to witness life as-it-happens. I have seen people from all generations come here to meet, celebrate, share, teach, create, and even cry. The plaza always seems to be the scene of formal or spontaneous activities. Strolling around here can also works up an appetite for ice cream or sweet and savoury pasteries. I also discovered the best shawarma’s outside the Arabian peninsula here aswell!
People watching in Victory Square
04. Discover the parks of Timisoara
Timisoareans will tell you that there’s not enough green space in Timisoara. I don’t really agree with that, though I also don’t argue that there could be more. I love the parks scattered all around the city. Sometimes you just have to get off the main road or walk through a, not-so-obvious, gate to find one of the very well maintained public green spaces. There’s 4 interconnected parks, Parcul Andrei Mocioni, Parcul Copiilor, Parcul Rozilor, Parcul Central right along the Bega Canal that I run across at least once a week. The Botanical Garden and the Regina Maria Park that are also worth a special mention and a definite visit. There are several more parks in various neighbourhoods all across the city with interesting art and monuments around them. It’s always wonderful to see children and people young and old being outdoors and taking advantage of these beautiful spaces.
Regina Maria Park, Timisoara
03. Opera in the Park
I was lucky to have arrived during the Festival of Opera and Operetta towards the end of this past summer. The magnificent sets and stage were setup outdoors in the Rose Park (Parcul Rozilor) with large and comfortable outdoor seating for the audience. I happen to catch Georges Bizet’s “Carmen“. Beautiful costumes, superb lighting and sound quality, an excellent performance, all made it the perfect night out in the city with a wonderful companion. Aside from the Festival of Opera, there always seems to be an art project or initiative in the city – everything from the classical to the contemporary, literary to performing arts.
02. Mass at the Orthodox Cathedral
I am not religious, yet whenever I needed spiritual guidance my feet guided me to the Orthodox Cathedral on the far end of the Victory Square in Timisoara. When I saw the cathedral for the first time I imagined it to be a fairy tale castle with it’s colourful spires in conical and pyramidal shapes. The cathedral is the tallest church in Romania and the 8th tallest Orthodox Cathedral in the world. It’s interior is just as magnificient as it’s external architecture – high ceiling with walls adorned with traditional orthodox art and a grandiose gold altar. There’s a warm, spiritual essence that can felt inside the cathedral. The scent of incense and candles along with soft sounds of prayer carry you in to a deep meditative state where you can find the serenity and peace, however clamorous your day may be.
Orthodox Cathedral by night, Timisoara
01. Run, walk or kayak along the Bega Canal
As an active person I like environments that connect me to nature and people while engaging in sporting activities. Back in Ottawa, I have the trails of Gatineau Park and the Rideau Canal. In Timisoara there’s the Bega Canal that runs through the entire, east-west, length of the city cutting through the center and connecting 4 parks. My favourite activity is to run through 3 of the parks all along the Bega, while watching/experiencing local life. Walking, specially during the fall season can be inspiring, invigorating and a romantic experience. There’s also the option of renting a bicycle or get right on to the water with a kayak, a paddle boat, or go fishing. If you really don’t feel active you can find a quite bench to sit and read or visit one of the bar and cafe’s on either side of the canal. Bega has a lot to offer and that’s why it’s number one on my list.
Early morning on the Bega Canal, Timisoara
There you have it folks, my top 10 list for Timișoara. I hope that whenever you’re in this part of the world or planning a visit to Eastern Europe that you will take the time to visit this tranquil and culturally alive city. I can tell you that I am looking forward to my return visit.
This article was originally written for Timisoara 2021 – a Romanian organization dedicated to winning Timișoara the title of European Capital of Culture in 2021.