Timişoara (pronunciation in Romanian: ; Hungarian: Temesvár, German: Temeschburg, Temeswar, or Temeschwar, Bulgarian: Тимишоара, Serbian: Темишвар, Temišvar, Banat Bulgarian: Timišvár, Turkish: Tamışvar-Tamişvar or Temeşvar), also known as "The City of Athletes", is a city in the Banat region of western Romania. It is the capital of Timiş County.
With 312,400 inhabitants, Timişoara is a large economic and cultural center in Banat in the west of the country.
The city is also called "Little Vienna", because it belonged for a very long time to the Habsburg Empire and the entire city center consists of buildings built in the Kaiser era, which is reminiscent of the old Vienna. Timişoara is an important university center with the emphasis on subjects like medicine, mechanics and electro-technology. An industrial city with extensive services, it was the first European city to be lit by electric street lamps in 1884. It was also the second European and the first city in what is now Romania with horse drawn trams in 1867. There are numerous claims that Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, built one of Timişoara's footbridges over the Bega.
The old city consists of historic city quarters with several historic squares and proms. These are: Cetate (Belváros in Hungarian, Innere Stadt in German), Iosefin (Józsefváros, Josephstadt), Elisabetin (Erzsébetváros, Elisabethstadt), Fabric (Gyárváros, Fabrikstadt). Numerous bars, clubs and restaurants have opened in the old center in the fine old baroque square.
In the Roman period, in the place where Timişoara is today, or in its immediate proximity there was a military camp named Zambara or Zurobara. During the time of the invasions of the nomad tribes from the Central-Asian plains, especially that of the Avars, on the site of the ruins of Zambara, a new settlement, called Beguey, was built.
In 1019 the locality of Dibiscos/ Bisiskos/ Tibiskos/ Tibiskon/ Timbisko/etc., presumed to be the future Timisoara , was mentioned for the first time in written documents of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II, although not all historians do agree with this identification. In 1154, the Arabian geographer Sarif al Idrisi mentioned the city telling that "it is a nice city offering a lot of riches". The first mention of the fort of Timişoara (Castrum Temesiensis) is found in the decree of King Andrew II of Hungary dating from 1212. Timişoara itself was first mentioned in official documents as a city in 1474. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1552 and remained under their control until it was taken by the Habsburg army led by the Prince Eugene of Savoy in 1716.
The demographic conditions of the region changed dramatically during the 167 year of Ottoman rule. In 1582, the city of Temeswar, in spite of the bloody siege, still had a Hungarian majority (the chief judge was István Herczegh). Later, the largest ethnic group in the city were Muslim Turks, and other smaller groups included Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies.
After the city was occupied by the Austrian Empire, the Turkish population fled. Of the remainder, we know of about 600-700 inhabitants out of which 446 were Serbs, 144 Jewish, and 35 Armenians. The "Armenische Stadt" as a separate quarter existed until the Great Plague of 1738. According to the 1720 data, the largest ethnic group in the city was Serb. Other smaller groups included Romanians and Jews; there were no Hungarians or Germans in the city at that time. Later, many Germans settled in the city, and gradually they became the largest ethnic group.
In 1718, the first beer factory in Transylvania was built. The first tobacco mill in today's Romania was set up in Timişoara. Between 1728 and 1771 a canal Bega was built to unite the city with the Danube river. In 1849 Timişoara became the capital of the Austrian crownland of Voivodship of Serbia and Tamiš Banat as the result of the Spring of Nations revolution; the province was ethnically extremely diverse, as its population was made up of Romanians, Germans, Serbs, and Hungarians. The crownland was abolished in 1860 and passed to Hungarian rule in 1867 with the creation of the dual monarchy.
The city was also the first city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to have public lighting using suet candles and lamps with oil and grease. Timişoara also became the first city in Europe to have electric public lighting on the 12th of November 1884, (four years after New York City). A tram hauled by horses also came into service around this period. Meanwhile, in 1869 Timişoara was also the first city in the Kingdom of Hungary to have an ambulance station.
In 1910, the town had 72,555 inhabitants: 31,644 (43.6%) Germans, 28,552 (39.3%) Hungarians (most probably including the Hungarian speaking Jews) , 7,566 (10.4%) Romanians and 3,482 (4.8%) Serbs.
After World War I, the town was occupied by Serbian troops in November 24, 1918. They withdrew from the city on July 26, 1919 and the Romanian army entered the city on August 3 after an ultimatum of the Romanian government. This situation was confirmed by the Treaty of Trianon.
During the next decades as a result of the city's development and of population movements from the Romanian villages of the surrounding region and from other regions of the country, Romanians became the majority in the city. A relative Romanian majority was first recorded in the 1941 census. After the Second World War many ethnic Germans emigrated in Germany, also almost all of the Jews emigrated to Israel and to the West. Timişoara's population has more than tripled over the last 50 years (it was slightly more than 90,000 at 1930 census), while the percentage of Magyars (Hungarians) has decreased from 30% to 7.5%, the Germans' from 30% to 2% and the Jews from 8% to almost 0%.
On December 16, 1989 many citizens of the town came to support the Hungarian Calvinist pastor László Tőkés against the authorities and Securitate (secret police)'s decision to deport him. In these circumstances on 17th December a popular uprising started in Timişoara against the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu. This was the beginning of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which put an end to the Communist regime a week later.
Timişoara has been a strong economic center since the 18th century when the Habsburg administration was installed. Due to the Austrian colonization, the ethnic and religious diversity and the innovation of laws, the economy began to develop. The technicians and craftsmen that settled in the city established guilds and helped develop the city’s economy.
During the Industrial Revolution most of the modern innovations were introduced. It was the first city with streets illuminated in the monarchy, and the first city of Europe illuminated by electric light. In this period the Bega river was channelled - Bega canal. It was the first navigable canal in the recent Romanian territory. In this way the city had contact with Europe, and even with the world through the Black Sea. This led to the evolution of commercialism. In the 19th century the railway system of the Hungarian Kingdom reached Timişoara. It is the first city in today’s Romania with international routes. In this way the city had all the needs for commercialism.
In recent years, Timişoara has enjoyed a significant economic boom as the number of foreign investments, especially in high-tech sectors, has risen constantly. It is frequently considered the second most prosperous city in Romania (following Bucharest) and there have been frequent debates on whether the so-called "Timişoara Model" could be applied to other cities. In an article in late 2005, French magazine L'Expansion called Timişoara Romania's economic showcase, and referred to the increased number of foreign investments as a "second revolution".
Apart from the several local investments, many substantial investments from the European Union take place in Timişoara, particularly from Germany and Italy, as well as from the USA. Continental AG has produced tires here for several years. The company Linde produces technical gases, and a part of the wiring moulds for BMW and Audi vehicles are produced by the company Draexelmaier. The US company Solectron maintains a large workplace in the west of the city for the production of mobile telephony and government inspection department devices. The American company Procter & Gamble manufactures washing and cleaning agents in Timişoara. The Swiss company Nestlé produces waffles here.
Colegiul Bănăţean, Jean Louis Calderon High School, Grigore Moisil High School, C.D. Loga High School, Nikolaus Lenau High School, Bartók Béla High School, Ion Vidu High School, William Shakespeare High School and Carmen Silva High School are some of the leading high schools in Timişoara.