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Saturday Afternoon, Timișoara

Three men and a woman dressed in Georgian-era clothing walking in a historic city square
Victory Square, Timișoara, Romania

It should come as no surprise that the number-one question Corie and I have heard this past week is how Timișoara compares with Tbilisi.

While it’s unfair to compare the two cities when we’ve lived in one for two years and the other for almost two weeks, the short answer is they’re very different.

Tbilisi has a peculiar energy to it that makes it unlike any other city in the world. It’s funky, it’s chaotic, and it’s edgy. Those aren’t the three words that would top my list to describe Timișoara.

Instead of funky, Timișoara is elegant, living up to its nicknames, Little Vienna and City of Roses. Instead of chaotic the city moves at the same relaxed pace as the water taxis gliding along the Bega river past art deco buildings and lanes filled with pedestrians and bicyclists.

And edgy? Sorry, Timișoara. It’s no contest. But then few cities in the world would match Tbilisi’s quirky, self-confident style.

But don’t get me wrong. There’s something to be said for an easy pace and capping off a long day with a leisurely meal at one of the many sidewalk cafes in Timișoara’s central district. In fact, we’re enjoying it very much.

Yesterday was a perfect spring day here in Timișoara–just the right temperature and a deep-blue sky–setting the stage for a nice afternoon of people watching.

After a 20-minute walk along the river from our apartment to the central district, my exploration began inside the "Three Hierarchs" Metropolitan Cathedral, a Romanian Orthodox church next to the city’s Victory Square. Like its Georgian Orthodox cousins, the Metropolitan Cathedral interior is somber, richly decorated with murals and icons reflecting the streams of light cascading from the building’s high windows.

Woman walking her dog in a busy city center
Liberty Square, Timișoara, Romania

Since I wasn’t sure if photos were allowed inside the cathedral, I decided to go back another day and will, I hope, feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Leaving the ethereal world of the cathedral’s interior, I crossed the street to Victory Square, a lively urban pedestrian zone bustling with weekend activity.

In 1989, the square witnessed major rallies that saw the overthrow of communism, but today it’s home to children playing, street performers, and couples enjoying the afternoon in one of the flower gardens.

From Victory Square, it’s an easy walk along pedestrian-only streets to the central area’s other two squares, Liberty Square and Union Square, each with a unique personality, and each a great place for people watching and taking in the architecture.

While many in Romania will observe Orthodox Easter on May 5, a small holiday market in Union Square provided plenty of opportunities for food, bunny face painting, and performances.

If you look up Timișoara, the first images you will likely see are from Union Square, and for good reason. Union Square is the most picturesque of the three, bordered by baroque and art-deco buildings. Like the Metropolitan Cathedral, I’ll take you on a deeper dive of Union Square in an upcoming newsletter.

My stroll ended in one of the sidewalk cafes, a chance to enjoy a relaxed break and watch the people go by, eager to find out more about this wonderful city.

group of pre-teen girls standing in a pedestrian street in a historic city center
Alba Iulia Street, Timișoara, Romania


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