The engaging city of TIMIŞOARA has long been the most prosperous and advanced of the Banat’s cities, claiming to be the first place in Romania to have a public water supply, the first in Europe to have electric streetlighting and one of the first in the world to have horse-drawn trams. It still boasts Romania’s premier technical university.
Timişoara grew up around a Magyar fortress in the marshes between the Timiş and Bega rivers, and in 1315, Charles Robert of Anjou, king of Hungary, established the capital of the Banat here; it played a crucial role during the 1514 uprising and Hunyadi’s campaigns against the Turks, who occupied the city from 1552 until 1716. The Habsburgs who ejected them proved relatively benign masters over the next two centuries, when Temeschwar, as they called it, acquired many of its current features. The draining of the marshes created the Bega Canal, which now separates the old town from the newer quarters to the south. These days, Timişoara is best known as the birthplace of the 1989 revolution, and still sees itself as the true guardian of the revolution’s spirit, swiftly hijacked by the neo-communists of Bucharest.
Close to the borders with Serbia and Hungary, and with flights from all over Europe and Romania, Timişoara is also a major transport hub. The city’s sights are clustered around the two large main squares, Piaţa Victoriei and Piaţa Unirii.