BANAT and CRIȘANA
Since immemorial times, Banat was permanently populated. Its name derives from “Ban”, the name used for a Hungarian government official. In pre-Christian times the region was Dacian, and then it fell into the Roman sphere of interest and became part of the Roman province of Dacia.
Today, the region is attractive for tourists from all over the world mainly because of its largest city, Timişoara. Its Habsburg past is still reflected today along the streets of the inner city. But also the traces of the Change, the demonstrations that began here in Timisoara, are still present. For visitors, the city, for which science and culture play a major role, is an ideal starting point for tours in the closer and more distant areas: to Lenauheim, the birthplace of the German poet Nikolaus Lenau, to the mountains in the South of Banat or to the Danube Gorge at the Iron Gate. Herta Müller was born in 1953 in Nițchidorf, Timiş County, and she studied German Studies at the University of Timişoara and got to know the power mechanisms of the communist dictatorship. For her work “Nadris” (“Niederungen”), she got an important prize for literature in 1984.
While strolling through the city of Timisoara, one can still feel the flair of the Habsburg era. Thanks to the Baroque and Classical old town, Timisoara is also called “Little Vienna”. The city had its heyday after the retreat of the Turks in 1718, when it came under Habsburg rule.
Shortly before the Hungarian-Romanian border at Nădlac, there is Arad, Banat’s second largest city. Like Timisoara, it was also influenced by the Habsburgs and has a baroque footprint. Arad is situated on a sinuosity of the Mureș River, the second longest river in Romania after the Danube, which flows into Hungary just a few kilometres further down. The Turks conquered the region in the mid-16th century and kept it occupied until the 1699 Peace of Karlowitz. After that, the region came under the rule of the Austrians and became again a part of the Kingdom of Hungary. A fortress built in 1763-1783 turned Arad into a garrison town and the most important military base, along with Timisoara.
Oradea, once Oradea Mare, is located just six kilometres away from the present Romanian-Hungarian border and is the main town in the Crișana region (region around the river Cris). Oradea is characterized by splendid Baroque buildings from the Habsburg era. Along with the many baroque private houses, there is worth mentioning the imposing Barock palace, founded as residence of the archbishop, the Roman Catholic cathedral, the largest baroque church in Romania, and the Moon church. The Black Eagle, the Parc Hotel, the Moskovits Palace, the Adorjan house, all magnificent examples of Transylvanian architecture heavily influenced by the Viennese and Budapest Secession.