“There are certain romances that belong in certain cities, in a certain atmosphere, in a certain time.” – Sammy Davis, Jr.
Cities are where history is, if not necessarily made, than certainly written. Rural areas have peaceful tranquility, of course, but there is no denying that cities have life. Vibrant, agitated, awe-inspiring life.
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Walking down a city street you get to see so many things, all of which have a story behind them. From the people, to the buildings, the stores, and even the street art, every aspect of the city is teeming with life.
No two cities are the same, whether they are famous cities like Paris, London or Berlin, or smaller cities like Palmanova or Bibury. Every city has its own personality, and it is always lovely to see it for yourself, and experience every city in wide-eyed wonder.
Today we will be showing you a few wonderful cityscapes from four old and lovely Romanian cities. Each of these cities has a very rich history and a flourishing cultural scene, which we will explore in the following paragraphs. Let’s start with the first city on our list.
Like most Romanian cities, Timișoara is at its very core a multicultural city. Having been under the control of several kingdoms and empires throughout its history, from the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austrian Empire, and even the Ottoman Empire, Timișoara boasts a very diverse architecture, with an emphasis on buildings form the Austrian Empire era.
In 1920, after the First World War, King Ferdinand I of Romania awarded Timișoara the title of University Center, which lead to continuous economic and cultural development in the interwar years. Even today, Timișoara has 8 universities, oldest of which being the Polytechnic University of Timișoara, founded in 1920. It is still one of the largest technical universities in Central and Eastern Europe.
Being an important center for education and culture, Timișoara has been the birthplace of several important scientists, professors, thinkers and scientists. You might have heard of Johnny Weismuller who, beside being the actor who played one of the most iconic interpretations of Tarzan in the 30’s and 40’s, was also one of the best Olympic swimmers of the 20th century; or Ioan Holander, who is the longest serving administrator that the Vienna State Opera has ever had.
Other illustrious natives include Ana Blandiana, Peter Freund, Francesco Illy and George Lusztig.
Bucharest is the 6th largest city in Europe, and Romania’s capital city. What is truly unique about this city is just how eclectic its architecture is. Ranging from neo-classical, Art Deco, Bauhaus, to Communist-era and modern, Bucharest can really be a wonder to behold if you have an eye for architecture.
In its Golden Age, Bucharest earned the nickname “Little Paris” for its beauty and cosmopolitan high culture during the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
It was first mentioned in official records in 1459, and nearly four centuries later it became the capital of what is now known as Romania. It would have become the capital sooner, after Vlad the Impaler built a residence in the city, and then Mircea Ciobanul rebuilt it in the 16th century, but it lost out to Târgoviște as the center of power in what was then known as Wallachia.
For just over 150 years now, Bucharest has played the role of capital city, and it has seen the country go from Monarchy to Communism, and then to Democracy, each leaving it’s mark on the city. Currently it is the most economically prosperous Romanian city, as it is one of the main industrial centers and transportation hubs in Eastern Europe.
According to the 2011 census, Brașov is Romania’s 7th largest city, with a population of just over 250 thousand people.
It has had many name changes throughout its history. The first official name it went by was Corona, meaning “crown” in Latin, in 1235 when it was first mentioned in official documents by its German colonists. Subsequent names were all similar sounding to its current name, except for Kronstadt, which was used during the Middle Ages, the same time as Corona, and Orașul Stalin, or Stalin City, during 1950 and 1960.
As far as tourism goes, Brașov is one of the most important tourist cities in Romania. It is the largest city in a mountainous area, making it an ideal place for people looking to hike or, during the winter, practice winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding.
For those passionate about history, Brașov is a mere stone’s throw away from important landmarks, such as the Bran Castle, and the Peleș Castle, which is situated in Sinaia, nicknamed “The Pearl of the Carpathians”.
Cluj-Napoca has the richest history of any of the cities on our list. It first began as a Roman settlement called simply Napoca. It is first mentioned in the Milliarium of Aiton, which was discovered in 1758, near the city.
Once again, architecture plays a vital role in this city’s appeal, with its mix of Catholic and Orthodox churches, Haussmann-inspired streets, and Baroque buildings.
The Cluj-Napoca Botanical Garden is a true wonder to behold, housing both a Japanese and a Roman garden, the later of which featuring remains from the ancient Roman colony of Napoca, such a statue of Ceres.
Cluj-Napoca is also a veritable cultural center. Besides having an impressive number of universities, the city is also home to many museums, most famous of which being the National Museum of Transylvanian History, and the Cluj-Napoca Art Museum.
Babeș-Bolyai University, the most well-known university from the city, also has its own museums. These include the Botanical and Zoological Museum, the Museum of Speleology, and the University Museum.
That concludes our presentation of these four marvelous Romanian cities. Writing this article has made us really want to go visit them again, and we sure hope we got some wanderlust going in you, as well.
Be sure to let us know what you think of the cities and the photos, and be sure to share with us any other lovely photos of them, in the comment section below.