Romania

Square in downtown Timisoara

Romania is a very beautiful nation. Too bad we had a day to explore it. 

We visited Romania as part of our road trip in 2018. We decided to visit Romania as a stop on the drive from Budapest, Hungary, to Belgrade, Serbia. Not many cities in Romania are that far west, so we ended up choosing Timisoara, a city in the west of Transylvania. When we visited Timisoara, the two main things we wanted to see were the Orthodox Municipal Church, and the effects of the 1989 Timisoara Protests, which ultimately ignited the Romanian Revolution. 

We began our drive from Budapest to Timisoara. We stopped once for food, and then continued on the drive. Things were uneventful until we entered the city. We parked near the city center, then walked to the main square. The way there wasn’t bad either. There were some really beautiful baroque buildings. 

The first thing we did when we got to the square was eating at McDonalds – my sister wanted some ice cream. That out of the way, we moved on to the square, which was a beautiful place. 

Surrounding the square were wonderful buildings in the Baroque style. Ornately decorated, they told of a time before communism. Splitting the square and the sidewalk was a row of bushes, and the square itself was bordered with benches, while the center was a garden. On one side of the square, the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. On the other, the National Opera house, a building that felt half decorated: between sleek and modern, and detailed to the last inch. The square also had a lot of birds, which I chased. 

Things much more important than chasing birds happened in that square in Timisoara. A little more than 30 years ago, the square was crowded with people. They were protesting the attempted eviction of a Hungarian pastor who denounced the Romanian government. When the government tried to get workers to fight the protesters, the workers joined the protesters. The next day, the dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu made a speech denouncing the protest, which soon went south. Protests spread, and eventually Ceausescu was executed. All of this started in Timisoara, and for the same reason we visited Timisoara. It’s proximity to Hungary and Serbia (Yugoslavia) made it easier to access unbiased media, meaning the people were less happy with the government. 

Our actual trip to Timisoara ended after we photographed the square. We got back on the road, and soon enough, we were in Serbia. But sometimes, it’s more about the story that a place tells, and less about its aesthetics. 

Romania is another unexplored nation, and it is underexplored by tourists. It has a surprisingly deep history, and the beautiful Carpathian Mountains make it optimal for a road trip. We have also visited Rome, and our Airbnb host there didn’t like how Romania’s name is so similar to Rome. Romania came from what meant Roman in Latin, so in a way, it is a mark of how large and powerful the Roman empire once was. 

Tips:

  • Mountain sights: Romania is less visited than the rest of Europe, but it has some great sights in the Carpathian mountains, especially on DN7C, which is a road that goes through the Carpathians.
  • Currency: The Leu is the currency of Romania, not the Euro, so make sure to exchange some money. 

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