Timioara (Romanian pronunciation; German: Temeswar, also formerly Temeschburg or Temeschwar, Hungarian: Temesvár, Serbian: Темишвар/Temišvar, Turkish: Temeşvar, English: Timisoara) is the capital city of Timi County, in western Romania. One of the largest Romanian cities, with a population of 303,708 inhabitants (the third most populous city in the country, as of 2011), and considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat, Timioara is the main social, economic and cultural center in the western part of Romania.
History Timisoara was first mentioned as a place in either 1212 or 1266. The territory later to be known as Banat was conquered and annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary in 1030. The city grew considerably during the reign of Charles I, who, upon his visit here in 1307, ordered the construction of a royal palace. Timioara's importance also grew thanks to its strategic location, which facilitated control over the Banat plain. John Hunyadi, Regent-Governor of Hungary, established a permanent military encampment here and moved here together with his family. In 1552, Ahmed Pasha conquered the city and transformed it into a capital in the region. Timisoara remained under Ottoman rule for nearly 160 years, controlled directly by the Sultan and enjoying a special status, similar to other cities in the region such as Budapest and Belgrade. During this period, Timioara was home to a large Islamic community, until Prince Eugene of Savoy conquered it in 1716. Subsequently, the city came under Austrian rule, and it remained so until the early 20th century. During this time, Timioara evolved from a strategic fortress to an economic and industrial center: numerous factories were built, electric illumination and public transport were introduced, railroad connections were established. The city was defortified, and several major road arteries were built to connect the suburbs with the city center, paving the way for further expansion of the city limits.
On October 31, 1918, local military and political elites establish the Banat National Council, together with representatives of the region's main ethnic groups: Hungarians, Romanians, Serbs and Germans. In the aftermath of World War I, the Banat region was divided between the Kingdom of Romania and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and Timioara came under Romanian administration after Serbian occupation between 1918-1919. In 1920, King Ferdinand I awarded Timioara the status of a University Center, and the interwar years saw continuous economic and cultural development. During World War II, Timioara suffered damage from both Allied and Axis bombing raids, especially during the second half of 1944. After the war, the People's Republic of Romania was proclaimed, and Timioara underwent Sovietization and later, systematization. The city's population tripled between 1948 and 1992. In December 1989, Timioara witnessed a series of mass street protests, in what was to become the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
Demographics According to the 2002 Romanian census, there were 317,660 people living within the city of Timioara, making it the fourth most populous city in Romania. Of this population, 85.52% were ethnic Romanians, while 7.64% were Hungarians, 2.25% Germans, 1.98% Serbs, 0.96% ethnic Roma, 0.38% Bulgarians, 0.23% Ukrainians, 0.17% Slovaks, 0.11% Jews and 0.76% others. 14.2% of the population are under 15 years of age, 4.0% are over 75. As of 2011 census data, Timioara has a population of 303,708, while the proposed Timioara metropolitan area would have a population of 365,777.
Economy Timioara has been an important economic center since the 18th century when the Habsburg administration was installed. Due to Austrian colonization, ethnic and religious diversity and innovative laws, the economy began to develop. The technicians and craftsmen that settled in the city established guilds and helped develop the city's economy. Notably, in 1717, Timioara became host to the region's first beer factory. During the Industrial Revolution, numerous modern innovations were introduced. It was the first city in the monarchy with street illumination, and the first city in Europe illuminated by electric light (1884). The Bega river was also channelled during this time. It was the first navigable canal on current Romanian territory. This way, Timioara had contact with Europe, and even with the rest of the world through the Black Sea, leading to the local development of commercialism. After 1990, Timioara was the first city in the country with international routes economic boom as the amount of foreign investment, especially in high-tech sectors, has risen. In terms of living standards, Timioara ranks fourth nationwide.
Culture and education The city center largely consists of buildings from the Austro- Hungarian era. The old city consists of several historic areas. These are: Cetate (Belváros in Hungarian, Innere Stadt in German), Iosefin, Elisabetin, Fabric. Numerous bars, clubs and restaurants have opened in the old Baroque square (Unirii Square). Landmarks include: Timioara Orthodox Cathedral St. George's Cathedral (The Dome) Millennium Church Museum of Banat - Huniade Castle Opera House
Performing arts: Banatul Philharmonic of Timioara (Filarmonica Banatul Timioara) Romanian Opera House (Opera Română Timioara) National Theatre (Teatrul Naional) German State Theatre (Teatrul German de Stat) Hungarian State Theatre (Teatrul Maghiar de Stat) Puppet Theatre (Teatrul pentru copii i tineret "Merlin") Festivalul Plai, a world music and jazz festival Timioara has four public universities and three private universities. Timioara has 15 twin towns and sister cities.